I've just read a couple of great books that I have to recommend. Neither is new, and both got a lot of press when they came out. It just took me a while to get around to reading them. If you, like me, missed them the first time around, here's your chance to go get them.
The first is Tomorrow Is Another Country by Allister Sparks, a long-time South African journalist. It's a play-by-play telling of South Africa's transition, from Nelson Mandela's imprisonment to his presidency. While I'm worried about South Africa's future under the less-than-Mandela-like Thabo Mbeke, the story of the peaceful transition is amazing.
The second book is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, which sets the ambitious goal of finding the root causes for European dominance over other societies, and in my view completely succeeds in this goal. Diamond is a real-life Indiana Jones, a brilliant professor and student of many disciplines who spends time in remote corners of the world to study cultures, botany, and linguistics. It's amazing that one person could put together such a comprehensive, multidisciplinary book. I lack the words to recommend it strongly enough.
UPDATE: The Rude Pundit has some interesting observations about the reading habits of El Presidente.
UPDATE on the UPDATE: A plausable explanation (from the evil genius mind of Karl Rove?).