Books Behind the Headlines

Dive deeper into election politics with these reads.

Books Behind the Headlines

Photo: Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images

Though the presidential election is just getting started, news coverage is already through the roof. Questions this week included whether or not Joe Biden will run (it looks like he will skip the first Democratic debate on October 13), what Hillary Clinton’s e-mails will reveal, and how Bernie Sanders’ fundraising efforts have effected his standing in the polls, and more. If you just can’t get enough of all the political wheeling and dealing, here are five reads to hold you over until Election Day.


The Faithful by Carla Dickens

Drawn from and inspired by today’s newspaper headlines and political blogs, The Faithful follows a cast of young, intelligent men and women as they navigate the turbulent waters of the 2008 presidential election. The titular “faithful” of Carla Dickens’ novel is a group of young people tasked with shepherding their candidate towards presidential success—a feat that’s as complicated as it is entertaining. Fast-paced and clever, The Faithful is a must-read for anyone invested in politics.


Primary Colors by Anonymous and Joe Klein

When an idealistic congressional aide joins the staff of a governor from a small, southern state as he launches his presidential candidacy, manic, unnerving hilarity ensues. Observing and narrating with equal parts horror and amazement, Henry Burton’s account of Jack Stanton’s presidential race reads eerily similar to that of another American president’s, Bill Clinton. Quick-witted, enlightening and smart, Primary Colors is as much page-turning realistic fiction as it is insightful critique of American politics.


Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton 

The 2008 election brought a great deal of change for presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton. Expecting to return back to the United States Senate, she was asked by President Barack Obama to instead serve alongside him as Secretary of State. Together, the two were thrust into a vast array of difficult decisions, left in the wake of the previous presidency. In Hard Choices, Clinton details the work that went into repairing foreign relations, fiscal crises, and unruly tension resulting from wars in foreign countries. Deemed by the New York Times Book Review as “serious, sober and substantive,” Clinton’s memoir is an essential read for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the political hopeful’s past ventures—and her aspiration to become President of the United States.


The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro 

Biographer Robert A. Caro’s exhaustive study of the life of President Lyndon Johnson is not for the light of heart, only die-hard political fans need commit themselves. Four volumes have been published chronicling LBJ’s entree into politics, his mastery of Congress, and rise to power after the assassination of JFK. Caro has completed enormous amounts of research for these volumes, which clock-in at over 3,000 pages so far. A fifth volume, on the bulk of Johnson’s presidency, is due in 2016.


The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy 

The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated, strange and overall intriguing place. This bestselling history, written by presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, provides readers with the convoluted and tabloid-worthy secrets of America’s last thirteen presidents. Such topics of discussion from within the executive boys club include Jack Kennedy and The Bay of Pigs, Reagan’s race for the 1966 presidency, and the complicated relationships between the likes of Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Well-researched and incredibly eye-opening, The Presidents Club is a true thrill for any political aficionado.

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