Join our email list

Never miss another "to be read" book!

5 Books Every Democratic Political Junkie Should Read

With the recent Democratic Convention, we thought it might be of interest to readers to learn the ins and outs of political campaigning. We also threw in a two books that describes the Obama White House and the battles the president waged against the conservative factions in congress and the Tea Party.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heileman and Mark Halperin

Game Change book cover

In Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country’s leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. Heilemann and Halperin take us inside the Obama machine, where staffers referred to the candidate as “Black Jesus.” They unearth the quiet conspiracy in the U.S. Senate to prod Obama into the race, driven in part by the fears of senior Democrats that Bill Clinton’s personal life might cripple Hillary’s presidential prospects. They expose the twisted tale of John Edwards’s affair with Rielle Hunter, the truth behind the downfall of Rudy Giuliani, and the doubts of those responsible for vetting Palin about her readiness for the Republican ticket—along with the McCain campaign staff’s worries about her fitness for office. And they reveal how, in an emotional late-night phone call, Obama succeeded in wooing Clinton, despite her staunch resistance, to become his secretary of state. Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.

The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election, by Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz

The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated undercurrents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency. Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson followed this campaign from the candidates’ first forays into Iowa and New Hampshire to the historic night of Obama’s victory celebration. They take readers on a gripping journey through the epic battle for Iowa, Clinton’s dramatic comeback in New Hampshire, the racially tinged primary in South Carolina, the stunning endorsement of Obama by Senator Edward M. Kennedy over the Clintons’ objections. They reveal the strategic mistakes of the Clinton campaign and the story behind Obama’s breakthrough organization. They cover McCain’s struggle for survival in the Republican primaries, Sarah Palin, and the economic meltdown that ensured Obama’s victory. Exclusive interviews with the candidates and their top strategists produce intimate portraits of the candidates throughout the longest and most expensive presidential campaign in American history. Balz and Johnson also interviewed voters in battleground states who expressed their anxieties about the economic climate and the challenges facing the United States.

The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory, David Plouffe

Audacity to Win book cover

For two years Plouffe worked side by side with Obama, charting the course of the campaign. His is the ultimate insider’s tale, revealing both the strategies that delivered Obama to office and how the candidate and campaign handled moments of great challenge and opportunity. Moving from the deliberations about whether to run at all, through the epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton and the general election against John McCain, Plouffe showcases the high-wire gamesmanship that fascinated pundits and the drama and intrigue that captivated a nation. The Audacity to Win chronicles the arrival of a new moment in American life at the convergence of digital technology and grassroots organization, and the exciting possibilities revealed by a campaign that in many ways functioned as a $1 billion start-up with laser-like focus and discipline.

Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, by Richard Wolffe

Bestselling Obama biographer Richard Wolffe draws on unrivaled access to the West Wing. He traces an arc from near death to resurrection that is a repeated pattern for Obama, first as a candidate and now as president. Starting at the first anniversary of the inauguration, Wolffe paints a portrait of a White House at work under exceptional strain across a sweeping set of challenges: from health care reform to a struggling economy, from two wars to terrorism.
Revival is a road map to understanding the dynamics, characters, and disputes that shape the Obama White House. It reveals for the first time the fault lines at the heart of the West Wing between two groups competing for control of the president’s agenda. On one side are the Revivalists, who want to return to the high-minded spirit of the presidential campaign. On the other side are the Survivalists, who believe that government demands a low-minded set of compromises and combat. At the center of this compelling story is a man who remains opaque to supporters, staff, and critics alike. What motivates him to risk his presidency on health care? What frustrations does he feel at this incredible time of testing? Revival is a frank and intimate account of a president struggling to adapt, enduring failure, and outfoxing his foes.

Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party, by David Corn

In Showdown, political journalist David Corn chronicles and examines this crucial time in the Obama presidency and its impact on the nation’s future. Drawing on interviews with White House officials, Obama’s inner circle, members of Congress, and others, Corn takes the reader into the Oval Office and the back rooms on Capitol Hill for a fast-paced and gripping account of the major events as they unfolded: the controversial tax-cut deal with Congress in December 2010; the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell; the passage of the New START treaty; the near shutdown of the government in early 2011; the revolutionary Arab spring; the killing of Osama bin Laden; the intense, high-wire debt-ceiling negotiations (in which intransigent House Republicans risked the nation’s financial standing); House Speaker John Boehner’s erratic maneuvers during the rise and fall of the grand bargain; and the face-off between Obama and congressional Republicans over how best to create jobs.Corn captures the dilemmas faced by a president assailed by disappointed progressives and defiantly obstructionist Republicans determined to see his defeat. Here is a chief executive trying to balance the cross-cutting demands of governance and politics while handling unending challenges at home and abroad. The book reveals a thoughtful leader with a cool head who is unafraid to take risks and make tough choices, a steely battler who successfully turned his enemies’ obstinacy to his advantage. Obama has often frustrated supporters, but Corn shows how the president, who often puts pragmatism ahead of partisan demands, has craftily operated within a hostile conservative political climate, looking to win the long game, achieve progressive goals, and, ultimately, win reelection.

    Join our email list

    Never miss another "to be read" book!

    Leave a Reply

    Sorry, but you must be logged in to post a comment.