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Long Wait at the Polls? Bring a Book.

POSTED: 02:24 PM ET, 11/ 3/2008 by Derek Kravitz

With elections officials predicting long lines in many states, including across the Washington area, there's one piece of advice that seems to be universal: Bring a book.

So for your consideration The Post's Investigations blog has compiled a list of politically-themed reading material:


If you're in the mood for fiction, try Robert Penn Warren's classic "All the King's Men," the 1947 political thriller about Southern populist politician Willie Stark, modeled after Louisiana Gov. Huey Long. (Both Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are reportedly fond of the book).

For more recent tales, there are Larry Beinhart's "American Hero," the 1995 political satire about a staged Hollywood-style war (the film "Wag the Dog" was based on the book) and Joe Klein's "Primary Colors," the fictional novel based on the goings-on behind the 1992 presidential campaign of former President Bill Clinton.

And in memory of the late Tony Hillerman, the New Mexico author who died earlier this month at 83, there's the 1971 political novel "The Fly On The Wall," which follows reporter John Cotton as he becomes embroiled in a political scandal involving a senatorial candidate.

(Children who are stuck in long lines can also check out Doreen Cronin's and Besty Lewin's "Duck for President," about farm animals seeking higher power.)

Check out non-fiction, autobiographies and what the presidential candidates are reading after the jump:


Want to relive recent history? Try Barton Gellman's "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," (review) the Post reporter's revealing look at Vice President Dick Cheney and his role in the Bush administration. Or Bob Woodward's "The War Within," (review) the fourth and final installment of the acclaimed journalist's behind-the-scenes look at the president and the Iraq War.

For one take on what the world might hold for the next president, check out Thomas L. Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded," (review) The New York Times columnist's tome on global warming and population growth.


To brush up on your candidate's life story, you can thumb through Obama's two books -- his personal 1995 memoir "Dreams From My Father," and the Illinois more political 2004 book "The Audacity of Hope." Joe Biden penned "Promises to Keep," which chronicles the Delaware Democrat's life and senatorial career.

For McCain, there's his autobiography "Faith of My Fathers," which chronicles his life and torture in a North Vietnamese POW camp and the Arizona senator's three books on character: "Character is Destiny, "Why Courage Matters" and "Hard Call."


McCain has a particular affinity for the character of Robert Jordan, the young American fighting the Spanish fascists in Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls." At the end of the book, a wounded Jordan faces the possibility of torture or suicide as the attack nears.

Both Obama and McCain's reading habits have been thoroughly examined. If elected, Obama would be one of the most "literary presidents in recent memory," writes's Laura Miller, noting that "Obama the reader blossomed as an undergraduate at Occidental College in California and, especially, during the two monkish years he spent finishing up his degree at Columbia University in New York."

Also, check out a few books that the candidates have been seen carrying under their arms in recent months: Obama was spotted with Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars" about the CIA's role in the War on Terror and Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World" and McCain was seen with Robert Kagan's "The Return of History and the End of Dreams" and Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front." For more books that the candidates have recommended or been seen reading check out's Election 2008 page.

By Derek Kravitz |  November 3, 2008; 2:24 PM ET Election 2008
Previous: Election Coverage, Nevada Gov. Cleared, Judge Demands Wiretap Memos | Next: Lying Juror Says Stevens Guilty


Please email us to report offensive comments.

My choice? A book about a Republican senator from Arizona losing big time to the Democratic nominee: The Making of the President 1964, by Theodore White.

Posted by: mdhughes | November 4, 2008 11:35 AM

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