Don't tell David Mark that negative campaigning turns people off politics. It was 1992's smash-mouth primaries that got him into political reporting. "When Jerry Brown brought up Hillary Clinton's financial dealings at a debate," Mark remembers, "and Bill got all mock angry about it, I took Brown's side. That was a completely legitimate issue." A career covering politics, most recently as editor of Campaigns & Elections, only strengthened Mark's appreciation for pols who go negative; he eventually wrote Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning (Rowman & Littlefield) to stick up for political nastiness. In "Attack Ads Are Good For You!" (page 22), he points out the upside of letting candidates expose their foes' unbecoming personal behavior.

At the 2005 Conservative Political Action Conference, when most Republicans were celebrating Bush's re-election, New York Post columnist Ryan Sager was distraught. "There was such a sense that the religious right was the only wing that mattered," he says, and that the party "can do whatever we want with government instead of shrinking government." His response: The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party (Wiley), a call to arms for the party's Goldwater wing. An excerpt from the book, exploring the good, bad, and ugly sides of Bush's "Ownership Society," begins on page 42.

When Katherine Mangu-Ward was editing the Yale Free Press in 2000, Reason started arriving in her mailbox: "Like manna from heaven, I suppose." She scored an internship with the magazine, then went on to work as a reporter and fact checker at The Weekly Standard ("You haven't really lived until you've been on a tight deadline trying to decide which spelling of Abdullah is correct for each of 10 different Abdullahs mentioned in a 5,000-word article") and as a researcher for New York Times columnist John Tierney. With this issue, she returns to Reason as an associate editor. For a taste of her writing, turn to "How the Upper Crust Eats" (page 69).