The best best books to understand the American political system

Who am I?

I write about politics. I grew up in a political household. My mother was a key fundraiser for the Democratic Party and my stepfather served as a White House counsel to President Clinton. Politics and the Washington experience were the air I breathed during my formative years. I followed in their footsteps and co-founded Fight for a Better America, an organization that invests in key battleground districts and states throughout the US, with the goal of either flipping them blue or maintaining a Democratic incumbent. Through my travels with the organization, I have made hundreds of contacts with folks in local civic clubs and organized hundreds of volunteers on the ground. 


I wrote...

Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

By Bill Kuhn,

Book cover of Facts & Fury: An Unapologetic Primer on How the GOP Has Destroyed American Democracy

What is my book about?

Written in smart and easily digestible chapters, you will discover how Trump became the logical consequence of decades worth of corruption, fear-mongering, and destructive policies. Kuhn uncovers the blatantly racist style of politics inherent in the GOP from Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Movement to Reagan’s aversion to public welfare. Each chapter is poignant and a well-researched entry contributing to the national conversation and debate on how we got to where we are today.

Facts & Fury is a revelatory work of scholarship and a laceration of the Republication Party that will energize the country and encourage discussion. Much more, it is a call to arms to halt the GOP’s efforts, engage our neighbors, and ultimately strengthen American democracy.

The books I picked & why

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Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond

By E.J. Dionne,

Book cover of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond

Why this book?

Why The Right Went Wrong is a wicked, detailed, and easily digestible account of how the Right was overtaken by power-hungry ideologues bent on destroying government. This is not hyperbole. Dionne painstakingly documents the ascendancy of those radicals in the Republican Party, and how our present moment – of chaos and near-civil war – is in large part due to this movement outlined in his book. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand how we got “here.”


Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

By Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson,

Book cover of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

Why this book?

Hacker explores the connection between America’s present yawning inequality and the deliberate decisions made by key political figures throughout the last 50 years. While off-shoring and technological innovation have contributed to the ever poorer job prospects and conditions for the poor and working-class, he argues that our government is just as much to blame. We could have taken action to protect these constituencies but rather defended the interests of corporate America and the radical rich (his term for wealth conservative donors such as the Koch Brothers). The book is very well-researched and easily digestible.


Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

By Kurt Andersen,

Book cover of Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Why this book?

In his characteristically funny and sardonic style, Andersen guides us through the historical connection between corporate America and the Republican Party. Needless to say, the relationship has been strong and fruitful (Democrats are guilty as well, but it’s hardly a comparison). He reports on the key conservative figures in both the private and public spheres who have funded and enabled the transformation of our laws and society. It is a remarkable story of power and greed written in concise witty prose. Highly recommend!


The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy

By Michael Lewis,

Book cover of The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy

Why this book?

Wow, if you had any idea how the Trump administration conducted the presidential transition, you would be floored. You likely have some idea of the ignorance and incompetence based on observing President Trump, but Lewis guides us through the fine details not covered in the press. Through incisive interview quotes and masterful story-telling, Lewis manages a brilliant look inside the post-election debacles. He also educates us as to the critical functions of the Departments of Energy and Agriculture and how we all rely on their proper functioning. 


Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches

By John W. Dean,

Book cover of Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches

Why this book?

President Nixon’s former White House Counsel, John Dean, has had the inside seat to Republican malfeasance and corruption. He utilizes his deep experience in government to write about his former party (Republican) of the 1990s and 2000s. He painstakingly documents the brutal no holds barred tactics of Republican leaders in Congress and in the executive branch. The damage former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Vice President Dick Cheney wreaked on our democracy are incalculable. Dean proves this definitively. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Republican Party, the economy, and conservatism?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Republican Party, the economy, and conservatism.

The Republican Party Explore 18 books about the Republican Party
The Economy Explore 113 books about the economy
Conservatism Explore 19 books about conservatism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism, Affluence and Influence, and The Making Of Global Capitalism if you like this list.