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The best political books ever

AlltheKing_0.jpg

Over the past few weeks in our "Live Fix" chats, we've been engaged in an ongoing debate with Fixistas over the best works of political fiction and non-fiction of all time.

Our nominees are below but we want to hear from you too. Once we reach critical mass, we'll publish out the full list of titles in this space and, in so doing, provide you endless gift ideas for the political junkie in your life.

You can offer your nominations in the comments section below. Here's ours:

FICTION: "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren. Released in the mid 1940s and based not-so-loosely on the life of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, Penn Warren writes beautifully and insightfully about what politics can cost those who play it at the highest levels. The fact that it's narrator -- Jack Burden -- is a journalist doesn't hurt either. It is ranked as the 36th best fiction work ever by Modern Library.

NON FICTION: "What It Takes" by Richard Ben Cramer. No piece of non-fiction written before or since better captures well, what it takes, to run and win the presidency than this work written by Ben Kramer of the 1988 presidential campaign. The portraits of Gary Hart, Al Gore, Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and, of course, Vice President George H.W. Bush are perfectly crafted and even today ring true.

If you have not read these two books, you MUST buy them and read them immediately or run the risk of giving up your credentials as a true political junkie.

What other books -- fiction and non fiction -- fall into the "must read' category for political junkies? The comments section awaits.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 28, 2010; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
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Comments

"Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism" by Susan Jacoby. Convincingly making the case that it's all politics.

Posted by: larryj2 | February 4, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I have enjoyed many of the books mentioned. I just recently read "A Prayer for the City," and enjoyed it so much that I read it AGAIN. It is full of reality, humor, and heart.

Posted by: flemingclan | February 3, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I loved both Maximum Contribution and The Sniper Bid by Rick Robinson. Both books delve into what is wrong with our political system. The Sniper Bid gives you a glimpse of how easy it is for someone with the best of intentions to get swept up in the power of politics.

Posted by: denebola0402 | February 1, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Fiction: Sniper Bid by Rick Robinson. It deals not only with politics, but delves into the question of government's role (or non-role)in solving the problem of steroid use in MLB. The plot is fast-paced and engaging, and the book raises questions about Washington's wingspan. It also has tons of trivia about baseball, the Capitol building, and many of the old-time players from both arenas.

Posted by: ashley6 | February 1, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Fiction - The Last Hurrah or The Man

Non-Fiction - The Prince or Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President

Posted by: chrissmoot | January 31, 2010 4:43 AM | Report abuse

Oooh! Oooh! I get to put on my poli sci major hat!!

Since a bunch of folks have beat me to Caro, Machiavelli, etc., may I add to the list:

The Last Hurrah, by Edwin O'Connor -- the thinly disguised telling of the James Michael Curley story and a picture of Irish-American politics in the 1940s. Arguably the greatest book about Boston politics ever.

Kevin Starr's series on California history -- what has happened in California has colored much of US politics in the past 60-odd years, for better and for worse.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty -- heck, we need another item in the classic political philosophy canon here, and it is a (if not the) seminal text on classical liberalism.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Hunter S. Thompson on Richard Nixon. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: SGfromMudville | January 30, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Nothing describes what's wrong with Washington then and now better than Rick Smith's "The Power Game", David Stockman's "The Triumph of Politics" and the remarkably prophetic Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".

Posted by: genanna | January 30, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

female perspective seems to be completely missing in the responses!

Posted by: iowazambia | January 29, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

To the books I listed previously I must second "The Gay Place" as political fiction and its snapshot of Austin in the late fifties. I used to play softball on Sunday mornings with Brammer and others, in Westenfield Park, but that does not color my love for the book. I also second KK's nomination of Key's "Southern Politics" which along with Myrdahl's "American Dilemma" are the two must read books for understanding the mid-century American south. These are usually in the American political science curriculum, I assume. They were universally required in 1960.

For a short work of political philosophy there is Hoffer's "The True Believer".

My previous recommendations repeated:

"1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country" by James Chace

"American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968" by Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson, and Bruce Page

"Truman" by David McCullough

"Alexander Hamilton, American" by Richard Brookhiser

I am not as taken by Caro as many of you are. But y' all would love John Bainbridge's "The Super Americans"
with its sardonic views of Texas oil in the early 60s.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 29, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry,
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald.
Also:
The Declaration of Independence by Carl Becker; and
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall by William Riordan

Posted by: MikeK3 | January 29, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Just for lovers of Virginia political arcana -- The Shad Treatment by Garrett Epps.

It certainly isn't the best political novel ever. I agree that the honor goes to All The King's men. But is a fun 'roman a clef' of "Howling" Henry Howell's populist run in 1977 against the Virginia political establishment.

Posted by: Minnesotan602 | January 29, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin

Science fiction, featuring nations somewhat like the US and Russia in the old days, plus an Anarchist government.

Posted by: dnfree | January 29, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Chris, you mention '88 and don't even name Dukakis. Why not? Non-Fiction:

Pledging Allegiance by Blumenthal
Boss by Royko
The Power Broker by Caro
Lincoln by David
We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent by Rakov

Posted by: MikeK3 | January 29, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

James Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox.
William Manchester, MacArthur: American Caesar.
David McCullough, Truman.
Dos Pasos, American Trilogy[1920s labor movement and politics]
Bruce Catton, Civil War Trilogy.
Shaaras, Civil War Trilogy.

Posted by: roberts7 | January 29, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Fiction - The Last Hurrah or The Man

Non Fiction - The Prince or Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President

Posted by: chrissmoot | January 29, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Can't go wrong with the classics:

The Republic (Plato)
The Prince (Machiavelli)

Posted by: wordmaven | January 29, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Loved What it Takes -- RBC did a very good job with all the candidates but you sense he really liked Biden and Dole. Other books worth considering: Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Ward Just's Echo House and to a lesser degree Jack Gance; Gore Vidal's Lincoln and for what it's worth Jean Edward Smith's recent FDR was a terrifc read -- it was more immediate and gave me a better understanding of his career as Secretary of the Navy during WW I -- and how important it was to his growth and development.

Posted by: DennisV | January 29, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"Political Fictions" by Joan Didion.
See especially her essay on the way journalists cooperate with politicians in the Bush-Dukakis race in 1988; a good companion to "Boys on the Bus."
"Nixon Agonistes" by Gary Wills is a keeper as well; his chapter on "The Denigrative Method" will remind us that Nixon is in his grave but that his legacy lives on in the fine art of the smear.

Posted by: easysween | January 29, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised "A face in the crowd" (play & movie) hasn't been mentioned.

Posted by: geraldsutliff1 | January 29, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised "A face in the crowd" (play & movie) hasn't been mentioned.

Posted by: geraldsutliff1 | January 29, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Great suggestions all!
Will just add "Huey Long" by T. Harry Williams (All the King's Men is largely modeled on HL, of course) and "Wallace" by Marshall Frady. David Halberstam says that Frady was the most talented of the journalists who emerged from the 1960s.

Posted by: easysween | January 29, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Great booklist here everyone.
Caro's books on Robert Moses & LBJ are longtime favorites & just re-read Halberstam's The Best & The Brightest last summer & it has lots of lessons & reminders on the perils of implicitly trusting the elites & ruling class (terms not in vogue these days, I suppose). Since we began with "All the King's Men," I'm surprised that no one suggested "Huey Long" by T. Harry Williams, the model for the novel, which reminds me to commend Jack Beatty's "The Rascal King" on James Michael Curley, on whom "The Last Hurrah" is based. Another addition to the list is Marshall Frady's "Wallace" & if you like that "Jesse" both of which are written in a rich lush Southern prose. Halberstam said that Frady was the most talented journalist to emerge from the 1960's.

Posted by: easysween | January 29, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," by Hunter S. Thompson. Absolutely worth reading every four years. Gary Hart before he was a candidate!

Fiction: "Fletch and the Man Who," by Gregory McDonald. Terrific dialogue.

Posted by: iainspapa | January 29, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"The American Creed" by Forrest Church and "The American Soul" by Jacob Needleman. The essence of spiritual politics, the moral values and deep emotions that are the heartbeat of American democracy.

Posted by: Paideia | January 29, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"The Kennedy Tapes:Inside The White House During The Cuban Missile Crisis", ed. by May & Zelikow.

These are the transcripts of tapes Kennedy secretly made of the leadership meetings during the crisis. You read it in their own words (open and honest -- no one but JFK and maybe Bobby knew about the tapes), as this group of men deliberate what to do about the missiles, and how to either start or avoid a war that could have killed hundreds of millions and ruined the planet.

Two things are clear: 1. It's scary how close we came to a full-on nuclear war, and 2. It's inconceivable that we'll ever see this sort of record, of that sort of event, ever again.

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | January 29, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"Everyone commenting must be under fifty. Noone has mentioned Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest", which I always thought was the consensus greatest political book of my lifetime."

Great book for sure, but I don't look at it as a "political" book, since the title characters -- Macnamara, Rusk, Bundy, etc. -- were all unelected officials who were basically apolitical. (as opposed to someone like Robert Moses, who was never elected to any office but played a dominant political role in NY city and state. His one venture into running for office himself was a miserable failure, almost laughable. He was born to be a behind-the-scenes puppetmaster. Retail politics was not for him.)

I'd call TBATB more of a governance book. Slight difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 29, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Best Fiction: Advise and Consent and its sequels, by Allan Drury
Also agree with The Last Hurrah and The Best Man

Best Non-Fiction: All the President's Men, by Woodward and Bernstein. Kept everybody guessing 20+ years.

Posted by: lindad2 | January 29, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

1912 is a definite must-read look at one of the most interesting elections in American history.

Team of Rivals is an excellent study of how to build a political coalition out of people with differing views.

Posted by: cmb0229 | January 29, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Everyone commenting must be under fifty. Noone has mentioned Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest", which I always thought was the consensus greatest political book of my lifetime.
How about
John Lewis' "Walking With The Wind"
"The King Years" by Taylor Branch (Pulitzer Prize)

Posted by: DanPeace | January 29, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

One classic that deserves mention: "Southern Politics in State and Nation" by V.O. Key.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 29, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

To the readers who mentioned Caro, he is tops in my book. "The Power Broker," or "Master of the Senate" anytime.

Posted by: robrains | January 29, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Seven Days in May," by Fletcher Knebel. The movie does justice to the book.

"The Prince," by Machiavelli.

My sometimes less than humble opinion.

Posted by: PolSciWatcher | January 29, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

How the Good Guys Finally Won - Notes from an Impeachment Summer. by Jimmy Breslin.

A beautifully written and different take on the Watergate scandal by a great writer. Breslin looks closely at the people, workings and politics of the House's and the Judiciary Committee's impeachment process. It reads like a thriller by one of America's most literate journalists. Breslin's imagery of documents accumulating in the impeachment staff's offices and each making small paper cuts in Nixon's presidency, until it bleeds to death - an image I'll never forget.

I've owned and re-read the book for over 30 years and recently was able to get two out of print copies that I insisted my daughters have on their booksshelf.

Posted by: kjff | January 29, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Many great recs on here, cluttered with a few bits of idiocy from the likes of armpit.

For a look into the mind of the typical Republican, try Babbitt or Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 29, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I never read the book but Gore Vidals "the Best Man" was a great movie.

Posted by: bradcpa | January 29, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

-Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen
-The Summer of 1787 by David O. Stewart
-John Adams by David McCullough
-Samuel Adams by Ira Stoll
-Saving Freedom by Senator Jim Demint
-The Political Brain by Drew Westen
-Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin
-Common Sense by Thomas Paine
-Common Sense by Glenn Beck

Posted by: VirginianforFreedom | January 29, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

BB -- NetFlix has them all. I love Ian Richardson -- very good at sly b@stards.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 29, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

LBJ The Path to Power by Robert A Caro

Posted by: djpcrowley | January 29, 2010 4:39 AM | Report abuse

"President Reagan: Role Of A Lifetime" By Lou Cannon

"The Survivor: Bill Clinton In the White House" By John F. Harris

Posted by: aaronguerrero87 | January 29, 2010 1:58 AM | Report abuse

LaFollette's Autobiography 1912
Another Chance-Gilbert
America Transformed-Abrams
Trading Up - the New American Luxury and Jihad v. McWorld
The Crisis of Global Capitalism-Soros
The Future of Capitalism-Thurow
It Can't Happen Here-Sinclair Lewis
Turning Points in Modern Times-Karl Bracher
Reflections on the Civil War-Bruce Catton
Code Name Bright Light-the Untold Story of U.S. Pow Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War-Veith
Tiger the LURP Dog-Miller
Guts-Gary Paulsen
Utilitarianism, Liberty and Representative Government-Mill
Dr. Brewer's Guide to English History-ThirtyFifth Edition, London 1868

Posted by: mesondk | January 29, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Many great selections but the two books for me that are essential to understanding politics from 1960 on in this country are the incomparable and groundbreaking The Making of the President 1960 by Teddy White and Edwin O'Connor's masterpiece The Last Hurrah-Skeffington is a magnificent character and the wake scene and 'Up, Up for the Mayor!" cut to the essence of the game

Posted by: rath | January 28, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Everyone should read Saul Alinski's book "Rules for Radicals", in order to learn how Comrade Barack Obama intends to change our country into a Socialist Communist Workers paradise, a la North Korea, Cuba, and the former USSR's.

Posted by: armpeg | January 28, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Fiction: "Interface" by Neal Stephenson

Posted by: Noacoler | January 28, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Some non-fiction for those of us who are history buffs:

"1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country" by James Chace

"American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968" by Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson, and Bruce Page

"Truman" by David McCullough

"Alexander Hamilton, American" by Richard Brookhiser

From this last book I learned the probable antecedent to the right to bear arms, in an afterthought.

"Truman" will let you understand the modern Presidency as no other book I have ever read.

"1912" will take you back to the last of the great and meaningful debates in American politics.

BB, better than "Yes, Minister" were the incredible series featuring the character of Francis Urquhart [FU],
the evil PM, which were called "House of Cards", "To Play the King" and "The Final Cut". If you have never seen them, you must.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 28, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

One must go back to the basics:

animal farm
1984
brave new world
mans fate

politics from day to day is shallow. Look for the universal themes.

Posted by: Moonbat | January 28, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

"The Right Nation"

"Regean's Revolution"

Conscience of a Conservative" Barry Goldwater

"House" History of the US House of Reps.

Posted by: matthewcheadle | January 28, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Is 'JacketPotato' having computer problems, or is he/she just overly enthusiastic about his/her choice?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | January 28, 2010 8:51 PM


No, he's just a disciple of broadwayjoe.

Posted by: SuzyCcup | January 28, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

"The Prince" by Machiavelli.

Posted by: --sg | January 28, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

It's not a book, but Yes, Minister (which became Yes, Prime Minister) is must watch BBC.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 28, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Posted by: SuzyCcup | January 28, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

"Washington DC" by Gore Vidal is a good page-turner (fiction, of course).

Still think "Boys on the Bus" is one of the best looks at intersection of media and politics, even it's nearly 40 years since it was published.

Totally agree with "All the King's Men" as the best fiction political book. Worth a look is "At Heaven's Gate," also by Robert Penn Warren. He wrote it before AKM, and feels like a warm-up for it.

I have not read them, but Trollope's Palliser series of novels are said to be great fun.

Posted by: Russ_Walker | January 28, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Is 'JacketPotato' having computer problems, or is he/she just overly enthusiastic about his/her choice?

Actually, I loved Mike Royko's writing, although I haven't read 'Boss' yet. mea maxima culpa!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | January 28, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The Real Majority: An Extraordinary Examination of the American Electorate by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon. Best book about the american electorate that resonates right now.

Posted by: rotney_oshea | January 28, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

How about Howard Zinn's history/political book that got a shoutout in "Good Will Hunting."

Posted by: broadwayjoe | January 28, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

"The Best Man." Although full disclosure: I didn't read the best selling novel; I waited for the Henry Fonda/Cliff Robertson movie.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | January 28, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Aristotle.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | January 28, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I have three favorite fiction novels by the same author
Richard North Patterson

No Safe Place
Protect and Defend
Balance of Power

Posted by: gigimn37 | January 28, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972, Hunter S. Thompson; Caro's LBJ Trilogy; Seven Days in May, Knebel [sp?]; The Ugly American (Lederer & ?); Boss, Mike Royko.

Posted by: tjbv1 | January 28, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Caro's LBJ books are good, but the single best non-fiction political book of all time is Caro's ``The Power Broker.''

Posted by: CharlieInDC | January 28, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Boss by Mike Royko for a pithy bio of machine and city politics.

Posted by: jacketpotato | January 28, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Foreign political fiction: "In the Time of the Butterflies," Julia Alvarez. "Blindness" and "Seeing," Jose Saramago.

Nonfiction: "Profiles in Courage," JFK.

Posted by: CCDMembership | January 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"Up, Simba!" by the late David Foster Wallace.

Two weeks on the McCain 2000 campaign with the generation's greatest author, during the wildest two weeks of the GOP primary. It's as probing an account of consultants, journalists, the capital "T" Truth and b.s. in a postmodern world.

It's also one of the funniest campaign accounts ever written by an author who claimed not to know much about politics, but whose skills of observation were peerless.

http://bit.ly/dfA5Zw

Posted by: fallenstjames | January 28, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Caro's "The Master of the Senate" is the best work of political non-fiction of all time, bar none.

Posted by: paulnolette | January 28, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I've read both books and heartily concur. I might add that I also suggest both: Fletcher Knebel's 'Seven Days in May' (also a stunning--your favourite adjective--film by John Frankenheimer) and Allen Drury's 'Advise & Consent' (a good, but slightly less 'stunning' film by Otto Preminger)--both of which are STILL so timely.

In fact, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves if it's a good thing that Congress and the way the 'game' is played have actually changed so little during the intervening 50-odd years.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | January 28, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Caro's LBJ trilogy, Joe Klein's Politics Lost and Jules Witcover's Marathon.

Posted by: WGladstone | January 28, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"Walking with the Wind" by Congressman John Lewis D-GA. The politics behind the civil rights movement, within the movement and in DC was incredibly complex and horribly twisted at times. Shows where the Southern Strategy came from. A good companion book to that is "Nixonland" by Rick Perlstein. I understand Nixon and his actions so much better now. It doesn't excuse what he did but explaining it is helpful because in many ways he was a good president. Just like reading "By His Own Rules" by Ben Bradlee,explained alot about Rumsfeld, the person which turned him into the SecDef we all came to detest...but he's actually a pretty neat guy.

Posted by: katem1 | January 28, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse

Posted by: h2jg | January 28, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse. Non-fiction.

Posted by: h2jg | January 28, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"The Gay Place," by William Brammer. The main character, a Texas governor, is reputedly based on Lyndon Johnson, for whom Brammer once worked.

First published in 1961, it was considered by David Halberstam to be one of the two great American political novels, the other being All the King's Men. An informed introduction and an excerpt that gives the flavor, can be read here:

http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/excerpts/exbragap.html

It was later republished by the University of Texas Press, as by Billy Lee Brammer, a name originally considered by the NY publisher to be too southern.

n non-fiction, I agree with others about Caro's bio of Johnson and about "What It Takes."

I'm surprised, however, that no one has yet mentioned "The Earl of Louisiana," about Earl Long. Huey's brother and the govenor of LA. It is by one of the greatest prose stylists of the 20th century, A. J. Liebling. Read it for the wonderfully crafted sentences and the wit, but read it also for the portrait of Uncle Earl, as he was known.

Posted by: barryrb | January 28, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"What It Takes" made me a fan of Joe Biden. Yeah, I said it--I like and respect Joe Biden and I don't care who knows it.

Posted by: soonerthought | January 28, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Just ordered What it Takes by Cramer-it will be here in 2 days--thanks for the recommendation -- I hope it is as good as you say.

Posted by: davidkaplan7 | January 28, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

And since you're into Louisiana poltical books, I also highly recommmend "The Last Hayride," by my friend Jon Maginnis, about Edwin Edwards. Non fiction.

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | January 28, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

And since you're into Louisiana poltical books, I also highly recommmend "The Last Hayride," by my friend Jon Maginnis, about Edwin Edwards.

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | January 28, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the column, CC -- a good subject that attracted only one of the usual suspects.

Posted by: drindl | January 28, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry but in the fiction category, the late Allen Drury's (former UPI Hill reporter) Advise and Consent will always be tops in my library. Great detail, highly realistic, and remarkably prescient. And a great movie was made from it as well.

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | January 28, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

One of the best political books I've ever read is the not-so-well-known book about New York State politics and local city machine politics is the biography about Mayor of Albany, Erastus Corning: http://www.amazon.com/Mayor-Corning-Albany-Icon-Enigma/dp/0791472949/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264713640&sr=1-1
Everything you need to know about New York State - applies to current players in NYS politics on the national stage.

Posted by: melanie4 | January 28, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

BEST POLITICAL BOOK: "The Power Elite," by C. Wright Mills (1956)

***

(News item: Obama-Biden Unveil High-Speed Rail Project)

Mr. President: How about first boarding the FREEDOM TRAIN?

RESTORING THE RULE OF LAW IN AMERICA MUST BE JOB #1.

• A Job Without Justice Is Slavery by Another Name.

See: Poynter.org (Journalism Groups -- Reporting):

• "U.S. Silently Tortures, Impairs Americans with Cell Tower Microwaves"
• "Gestapo USA: Fed-Funded Vigilante Network Terrorizes America"
• "U.S. Uses CBS News to Cover Up Microwave Cell Tower Torture?"

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://www.poynter.org/subject.asp?id=2 OR:
NowPublic.com/scrivener (see "stories" list)

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 28, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

George58 beat me to it but the answer has to be Caro -- LBJ -- one or all 3

Posted by: davidkaplan7 | January 28, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

George58 beat me to it but the answer has to be Caro -- LBJ -- one or all 3

Posted by: davidkaplan7 | January 28, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Certainly, Samuel Lubell's The Future of American Politics should be included in the non-fiction category, as should All the President's Men.

Posted by: thephd | January 28, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Theodore White's Making the President 1960
Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
and
Craig Shirley's recent Rendezvous with Destiny about Reagan's 1980 campaign

Posted by: dirtybusiness | January 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Chris, please--The Last Hurrah has to be on an equal footing with All the King's Men. One of the all-time best. I learned something new everytime I read it. It also predicts the rise of TV as a major factor in campaigns.

Posted by: rayspace | January 28, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The Audacity of My Father

-BHO (ghostwritten by w.a.)

Posted by: leapin | January 28, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

This is extremely obvious, but Robert Caro's LBJ trilogy is at mandatory and AWESOME.

And one would be a fool to omit The Prince.

Posted by: George58 | January 28, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Julius Caesar -- The Conquest of Gaul.

Posted by: milfordone | January 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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