All the King’s Men by William Penn Warren (1947) – Perhaps the quintessential book about US politics and politicians. There are many reasons for this classic novel’s longevity and its Pulitzer Prize – great writing, intriguing and unique characters, and superb descriptions of the deep south. This tale of ambition and power set in the Depression is widely considered the finest novel ever written about American politics.
Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (2012) – The death of a town councilman unearths dysfunctional town politics, not-at-all-functioning public housing complexes, turned off teenagers engaging in unsafe activities, corrupt politicians, and townspeople looking out only for themselves. And despite the fact plot is often bleak, her characters are memorable and the messages embedded throughout this novel resonate during this election season. Ms. Rowling’s first forray into adult literature is all about muggles, and we know it was panned by many critics, but this book does make you think.
Primary Colors: A novel of politics by Anonymous, later revealed to be Joe Klein (2006)- A fun romp through 1990s politics. Yes, the campaign greatly resembles Bill Clinton’s, but what is wrong with that? Have fun laughing at, or possibly with, a fictional look at presidential campaigns.
From the policy makers, because sometimes you just need the numbers
The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the next revolution for women work and familyby Madeleine Kunin (2012) – We should first say that we are fans of our former governor, Ms. Kunin. Her career path, poise, thoughtfulness, compassion and intelligence are inspiring. In her latest book, she argues that empowering women to succeed in their work is good for everyone – men, women and children. She then discusses what it will take for this vision to occur. Whether you agree with her politics or not, this book provides important fodder for intelligent discussions. (At the very least we recommend you read her short introduction.)
A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget by the National Priorities Project (2012) – An accessible, amply illustrated look at the complications of our national budget. To be truly informed voters we should all know a little something about our budget and the national priorities project has made that task a bit more palatable. Perfect for your favorite wonk.
From the satirists, because sometimes you just need to laugh
Tweet Land of Liberty:Irreverent rhymes from our political circus by Elinor Lipman (2012) – One of our favorite humorous novelists, Elinor Lipman, has produced daily poetic tweets about the 2012 election for quite some time. Recently, someone was smart enough to gather them in a book. This collection contains many tweets that are hilarious and most are cleverly embedded in actual headlines about the various campaigns. Enjoy revisiting the work of Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and many others.
The Snark Handbook: politics and government edition. Gridlock, red-tape and other insults to we the people by Lawrence Dorfman (2012). This little book has quotes by politicians about politics, by politicians about other politicians, by people you have never heard of about politics and politicians, all presented in a lovely little book that will leave you smiling and sometimes a bit sad, but ideally comforted by the fact that politicians and politics have said and done nasty things for years, not just today and somehow we have survived as a nation.
America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert (2012) – The Colbert Show team returns with a parody of elections. Yes, this book employs
the egotistical voice of “Stephen Colbert” to inform readers. And if you are not a fan of that voice, you will probably not be a fan of this book. But this book offers an interesting take on how our country is “Americeptional” in a wide range of subjects: healthcare,
Wall Street, energy, and elections. Through it all, there are gags to make you smile (even if only a little bit) no matter what your political bent.
Disclaimer — Lisa Cadow wanted to make sure our readers know that she relied on Lisa Christie to screen the books for this post. So please don’t ask her for her take on the Federal Budget any time soon. She still has a few pages to go on that selection.