Aug. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Book 'Em

Barry Wheeler/Library of Congress
The free National Book Festival will feature more than 125 authors this year and will take place between Ninth and 14th streets on the National Mall.

The National Book Festival will celebrate a love of reading this weekend by bringing some of the country's most successful writers and thinkers to speak on the National Mall. 

With more than 125 authors this year, the festival tries to appeal to every taste, with speakers as diverse as children's authors Jerry Spinelli and R.L. Stine, New York Times opinion writer Thomas Friedman, biographers Walter Isaacson and Robert Caro and novelist Jeffrey Eugenides. 

Eisenhower biographer Jean Edward Smith is scheduled to appear, as are David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower.

Douglas Brinkley, chronicler of environmental heroes John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, is on the schedule, and so is Daniel Yergin, historian of fossil fuels.

"The political set can get what everyone can get, which is a respite from their current reality," festival Operations Manager Jennifer Gavin said. "Even political people need to relax with a good book once in a while."

The free festival, organized by the Library of Congress, will be held between Ninth and 14th streets on the National Mall, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and continuing through Sunday night.

For the political- and policy-minded, here are five authors to look for at the festival:

Thomas Friedman

Friedman will be discussing his 2011 book, "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back," at 11 a.m. Saturday. He will speak with co-author Michael Mandelbaum, director of the American Foreign Policy program at Johns Hopkins University. 

Their prescription for America's ailments is simple: "What we need is not novel or foreign," they explain in a statement on Friedman's website, "but values, priorities, and practices embedded in our history and culture, applied time and again to propel us forward as a country. That is all part of our past. That used to be us and can be again - if we will it."

David Maraniss

Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and associate editor at the Washington Post, will recount what he learned from three and a half years of reporting on his new biography of President Barack Obama, "Barack Obama: The Story" at 1:50 p.m. Sunday. 

"I think that his life was sort of encrusted in mythology," he said. "So what I do is try to pursue the real story and wipe away the mythology from all sides."

He calls the book a "generational biography" because he delves into Obama's background and family history. Maraniss traveled to Indonesia, Kenya, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago to track Obama's story. 

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