By Bob Skolnik
With politics on many people's minds the days and months after the November presidential election, the leaders of the Brookfield Public Library have chosen a political book this year for the third annual Brookfield Reads! program.
This year's book is Believer: My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod, the Chicagoan who served as Barack Obama's chief strategist from Obama's 2004 Senate campaign through two successful presidential campaigns and played as important a role as anyone in electing the United States' first black president.
The highlight of a month of events revolving around Believer will be a discussion with Axelrod that will be held at the Brookfield Zoo's Discovery Center on Thursday June 15, at 7 p.m. Admission will be free, but advanced registration is required.
"Given the recent national presidential election and its results, the library anticipated some post-election stress among Brookfield residents," said Brookfield Library Director Kimberly Coughran said in an email. "This year's Brookfield Reads! focuses on state and national politics and features David Axelrod as an outlet for all who are concerned about the country's future direction. We expect very strong discussions to take place at the events throughout May and June."
Believer is the memoir of Axelrod, a native New Yorker who has lived in Chicago since the 1970s, when he arrived to attend the University of Chicago. He began his career as reporter, first working for a Hyde Park newspaper as a college student and then, upon graduating, moving on to the Chicago Tribune where he quickly rose to becoming the paper's top political reporter.
In 1984, becoming disenchanted with the Tribune, Axelrod became the campaign manager for Paul Simon's senate race against Charles Percy. After helping Simon unseat Percy, Axelrod launched his own Chicago-based political consulting firm which advised and made television advertisements for Democratic candidates across the nation.
During the first two years of the Obama administration, Axelrod worked in the White House, managing communications and messaging. Believer is a candid tale of life in the trenches for a political idealist and a revealing tale of Axelrod's relationship with his dream client.
After Obama's re-election in 2012, Axelrod retired from an active role in politics to found and run the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. He also serves as a regular political commentator on CNN.
Copies of Believer are available at the Brookfield Public Library for checkout.
A host of events focusing on politics will take place over the next month at the library. Brookfield Reads! kicks off Wednesday May 10 at 7 when historian Jim Gibbons will give a talk at the library about legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who served as the mayor of Chicago from 1955 until his death in 1977.
On May 17, former Daily Herald political editor Madeleine Doubek will lead a discussion "Improving Illinois: What You Need to Know About Our Financial Crisis." Until last month Doubek had been the publisher of Reboot Illinois, a website dedicated to improving Illinois financial condition and reforming Illinois politics and government.
On Monday June 5 historian David Clark will discuss public corruption in Illinois with a talk about "Illinois Rogues Gallery: Our Infamous Politicians," featuring the long history of corruption among Illinois politicians.
Book discussions about Believer will be held on May 27 at 7 p.m. at Irish Times in Brookfield and on Saturday June 10 at 2 p.m. at the Brookfield Public Library.
The library will also show two movies as part of month-long event. On Saturday, May 13 at 1 p.m., the library will show the 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart as a young idealistic senator who discovers how politics really works.
And on June 17, at 1 p.m. the library will screen Milk, the story of Harvey Milk who became California's first openly gay elected official before being assassinated in 1978.
For more information about Brookfield Reads! and related events, visit www.brookfieldlibrary.info/brookfieldreads.