Mar 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Pulitzer-winning Latino journalist covers U.S. political life by reading

"The Washington Book: How to Read Politics and Politicians" By Carlos Lozada.

Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

One of the few Latino journalists to win the Pulitzer Prize has released a new collection of his book reviews, criticisms and assessments of contemporary American politics.

Why it matters: "The Washington Book: How to Read Politics and Politicians," by the Peruvian-born Carlos Lozada, explores the American experiment from an immigrant's perspective using analysis and criticism.

  • The book is composed of pieces from Lozada's days as a Washington Post book critic and later as an opinion columnist for The New York Times.

Zoom out: Lozada tells Axios his career as a book critic took off right before Donald Trump ran for president for the first time, and when longtime Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley stepped down.

  • He says he couldn't avoid the political shifts happening in the nation. He covered politics using critiques of nonfiction books.
  • "So I just ended up deciding to take that as my beat, that I would try to understand what was going on in American political life ... through books."

Zoom in: Lozada dissects the nation's racial reckoning and the conservative backlash that came after it by examining "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival," by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and "The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story."

  • Lozada reread the New York Times Magazine's Pulitzer Prize-winning series by Nikole Hannah-Jones, listened to all the accompanying podcasts and read the children's book.
  • "There's been so much about this project, praising or attacking it. I thought it would be most interesting to show its evolution," he says.
  • He concluded that the 1619 Project evolved from a "strictly historical inquiry" to one using history to advocate for political reforms.
  • Lozada not only took the time to read his material closely but get absorbed in the history of the writers and their subjects.

Our thought bubble: This expansive collection by Lozada echoes the work of the early 20th-century literary critic Edmund Wilson.

  • Lozada's Wilsonesque voice came at a time when newspapers were slashing their book review and art criticism pages.

Fun fact: Lozada doesn't only write only about contemporary nonfiction books —he revisits Alexis de Tocqueville's 19th-century "Democracy in America."

  • As an immigrant from Peru, Lozada wanted to understand the Paris-born de Tocqueville's assessment of the United States to see if anything had changed.
  • Lozada observes how De Tocqueville noticed Americans got real intense about their presidential elections, and after it was over, went on with their lives. That's how it used to be then and how Lozada saw it ... until recently.

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