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09.12.09

Ralph Nader, Novelist

Al Gore’s nemesis has written a new novel about billionaires who save the planet. From Barbara Boxer to Scooter Libby, TAKE OUR QUIZ and match the politicos to their prose.

In 1965, Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, a lasting takedown of America’s automobile industry. More than 40 years later, the consumer advocate, best known for his quixotic presidential campaigns, returns to the writer’s desk this month. With “ Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us”—a story of real-life billionaires who save the world—Nader joins the ranks of politicians who fancy themselves novelists. Nader’s dramatis personae (helpfully provided by author) include Warren Buffet, Bill Cosby, Paul Newman, and Yoko Ono.

The political novelist set is a surprisingly large clique, a caucus that knows no partisan standard—nor any real literary one. Look at it this way: their shared membership gives Dick Cheney’s wife, Al Gore’s daughter, Jimmy Carter, Newt Gingrich, and now Ralph Nader something else to argue about.

In honor of Nader’s newest venture, The Daily Beast challenges you to match the following excerpts with their authors.

ANSWER CHOICES:
• William S. Cohen, former Maine Senator and Secretary of Defense, Dragon Fire

• Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney, Sisters

• William F. Weld, former Massachusetts governor, Big Ugly

• Kristin Gore, daughter of Al Gore, Sammy’s Hill

• Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Dick Cheney, The Apprentice

• Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and William R. Forstchen, Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

• Jimmy Carter, former president, The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of Revolutionary War

• Barbara Boxer, California Senator, and Mary-Rose Hayers, A Time to Run
1. The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage—no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.

2. The party really started to rock when Willie Nelson and Queen Nefertiti began pouring shots. I downed one and felt my stomach immediately replaced by a large liquor bonfire that spread through my chest, its flames licking up the inside of my throat. Willie leaned over and whispered that Winnie the Pooh had the hots for me.

3. Windblown Emma was waiting for us at a table by the railing. She had made zero effort to get ready for our date—blue jeans, spads, no makeup—but she had on a cream-colored silk blouse, and wore her sunglasses perched in front of a messy French twist. Those two things were plenty good enough for me.

4. Shadows moved about the flickering lights, the scent of wood smoke drifting on the cool breeze mingled with all the other scents of the army... horses, men, food cooking, grease, sweat-soaked wool uniforms, oiled leather, latrines, the heavy mix both repugnant and comforting, the smells that had been his life for over thirty years.

5. The young girl stood quiet and unseen behind the trunk of a large walnut tree, its leaves and branches scarred on one side by a recent fire. Her demeanor and even her clothing would have indicated to a careful observer that she led a relatively protected life in a family of modest means. Although concealed, she didn’t appear to be ill at ease but sure of herself.

6. A silence hung between them. Greg knew he should be ashamed of lying. Of course he and Jane had sex, and pretty good sex, too—but that was all it was, sex, not love-making, so perhaps it wasn’t a lie after all.

7. Then the girl reached into her mountain trousers and tugged at her clothing. The young apprentice could see the movements of her hand inside her pants. Creeping silently…the youth crouched slowly down to get a better look his mouth, inches from the floor, hung slightly open.

8. Ben-Dar had demanded much of her in the past. She had killed on his command before and would do so again without the slightest hesitation or remorse. But sex was different. She would sacrifice her life for her country, but not her body.

Answers on Next Page

1. The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage—no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.

ANSWER: —Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney, Sisters, 1981.

2. The party really started to rock when Willie Nelson and Queen Nefertiti began pouring shots. I downed one and felt my stomach immediately replaced by a large liquor bonfire that spread through my chest, its flames licking up the inside of my throat. Willie leaned over and whispered that Winnie the Pooh had the hots for me.

ANSWER: —Kristin Gore, daughter of Al Gore, Sammy’s Hill, 2004.

3. Windblown Emma was waiting for us at a table by the railing. She had made zero effort to get ready for our date—blue jeans, spads, no makeup—but she had on a cream-colored silk blouse, and wore her sunglasses perched in front of a messy French twist. Those two things were plenty good enough for me.

ANSWER: —William F. Weld, former Massachusetts governor, Big Ugly, 1999.

4. Shadows moved about the flickering lights, the scent of wood smoke drifting on the cool breeze mingled with all the other scents of the army... horses, men, food cooking, grease, sweat-soaked wool uniforms, oiled leather, latrines, the heavy mix both repugnant and comforting, the smells that had been his life for over thirty years.

ANSWER: —Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and William R. Forstchen, Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War, 2005.

5. The young girl stood quiet and unseen behind the trunk of a large walnut tree, its leaves and branches scarred on one side by a recent fire. Her demeanor and even her clothing would have indicated to a careful observer that she led a relatively protected life in a family of modest means. Although concealed, she didn’t appear to be ill at ease but sure of herself.

ANSWER: —Jimmy Carter, former president, The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of Revolutionary War, 2003.

6. A silence hung between them. Greg knew he should be ashamed of lying. Of course he and Jane had sex, and pretty good sex, too—but that was all it was, sex, not love-making, so perhaps it wasn’t a lie after all.

ANSWER: —Barbara Boxer, California Senator, and Mary-Rose Hayers, A Time to Run, 2006.

7. Then the girl reached into her mountain trousers and tugged at her clothing. The young apprentice could see the movements of her hand inside her pants. Creeping silently…the youth crouched slowly down to get a better look his mouth, inches from the floor, hung slightly open.

ANSWER: —Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Dick Cheney, The Apprentice, 2005.

8. Ben-Dar had demanded much of her in the past. She had killed on his command before and would do so again without the slightest hesitation or remorse. But sex was different. She would sacrifice her life for her country, but not her body.

ANSWER: —William S. Cohen, former Maine Senator and Secretary of Defense, Dragon Fire, 2006.

WHAT YOUR SCORE MEANS:

8/8 : You might want to run for office and then write a novel.
6 or 7: You do most of your reading in the voting booth.
4 or 5: You need to find a new book club.
2 or 3: You appreciate a good read.
1 or less: Congratulations, you win!

Plus: Check out Book Beast for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.

Samuel P. Jacobs is a staff reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Observer, and The New Republic Online.