Being a writer, that is. No matter what kind of writing someone does, there’s the writer-brain watching in the background, observing and taking notes.
Which gets really interesting when I’m doing something like, oh, reading about late-medieval/early Renaissance Florence, around the time the republic of Florence was crumbling. The authors are listing out the factors contributing to the decline of the republic and its replacement by aristrocratic rule in all but name and I’m thinking “oh gee, this looks like the USA right now, only instead of the Pazzis and the Medicis we have the Democrats and the Republicans”. Um. Nightmare fuel on steroids.
Also, anyone who thinks politics is dirty now should consider the methods they were using half a millenium ago. Death by misadventure, death by judiciary, death by… well, death (I suspect it was covered up really well in those cases – too well to trace who did what to whom), taxation that makes the IRS look like pussies, applied to one’s enemies (jokes about tax audits, anyone?). History is an interesting place. I wouldn’t want to live there, but boy does it have interesting material for books.
Oh, and for those who are interested, the book is April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici by Lauro Martines.