Shining City Reading Group Guide

Q. The president wants to pick an iconoclast independent thinker on the court, hoping to change the dynamics among the judges, which he believes have become too partisan. Many of his own aides disagree. What do you think of that? If you were president, would you pick someone who strongly agreed with your political views, or try to pick someone independent of politics?”

Q. Critics praised Shining City” for its realism and its insights into the characters and inside mores of politics in Washington. Before becoming a novelist, the author, Tom Rosenstiel, was a long-time Washington journalist and the author of seven nonfiction books about politics and media. Did you learn anything about these subjects you found interesting or surprising? Did any of it inspire you? Or was it disheartening? 

Q. The two main characters in the book, Peter Rena and Randi Brooks, are partners who disagree politically. Rather than by ideology, they are bound instead by a desire to always get the true facts of a situation. They both believed, deeply, knowing the facts is the only way the country can solve its problems? They pick their clients based on character, not conviction. What do you think of that? Do you have many friends in your own life you disagree with politically? Why or why not?

Q. Did the book change your opinion or perspective about anything issues? Do you feel differently now than you did before you read it?

Q. Peter Rena, the former soldier turned political fixer, has a fatalistic view of morality. He isn’t sure Martin Luther King was right that the long arc of history bends toward justice. But he believes you should tug towards justice in your own life because others may be pulling the other way. What would you say is your own view of the arc of history?

Q. Which parts of the book stood out to you? Are there any quotes, passages, or scenes you found particularly compelling? Were there parts of the book you thought were incredibly unique, out of place, thought-provoking, or disturbing?

Q. The author has said one thing that intrigues him about political thrillers is that usually all the characters think they are doing the right thing, or fighting for some good cause, even the ones readers are rooting against or think are evil or wrong. What did you think of the characters antagonists in this book? In the end, the the protagonists are uneasy with what they have had to do. What do you think of them?

Q. If the book were being adapted into a movie, who would you want to see play what parts?

The Series