Ezra Klein calls Jane Mayer “one of the really great investigative reporters of our age.” As a writer for the New Yorker, Mayer has delved deep into major political stories, covering powerful men like Robert Mercer and Mike Pence. She’s written books about Clarence Thomas, the war on terror, and the Reagan presidency. She worked with Ronan Farrow on the story of the Eric Schneiderman sexual assault allegations, which led to Schneiderman’s resignation. Even so, on this week’s episode of The Ezra Klein Show, Mayer said that she doesn’t think of herself as an investigative reporter: “I don’t think it’s different [from ordinary reporting.] It’s taking longer, but doing what every reporter ought to be doing anyway.”
Mayer’s most recent book, Dark Money, covers the billionaires funding extreme right-wing politics, so when it came time for book recommendations, she picked out three more books about how money came to control American politics. Each covers a different era of 20th-century America, from the Jazz Age to the New Deal to the 1970s.
Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Winner-Take-All Politics tracks the origins of extreme income inequality in the United States to deregulation in the late 1970s. “We thought nothing was happening that much at the time, other than sideburns and disco,” Mayer says, “but actually, it all began in the ’70s.”
“The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s classic short story, about an old-money family who made their fortune selling their hoard of diamonds, “is really a fable about America and money,” according to Mayer. It’s also “just so much fun.”
Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal by Kim Phillips-Fein
In addition to being wonderfully written, Invisible Hands tells the story of the wealthy businessmen who campaigned against Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and built a coalition of both big and small businesses to influence Washington.