10 books like A Political Education

By Harry McPherson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Political Education. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

By William L. Riordan,

Book cover of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics

Plunkitt infected me with “the political bug.” George Washington Plunkitt’s “very plain talks on very practical politics” showed me the joys of playing the political game, of devising and executing strategies and tactics, of outwitting opponents. I first read Riordon’s classic for grade school and loved its gritty romp through turn-of-the-century New York. I reread the book for a college history course and came to appreciate politics as the art of the possible – and to see the innate conflict between ambition and conscience. After seven years in journalism, I “crossed to the dark side” and became a political operative, partly because Plunkitt had shown me that playing politics can be far more rewarding – and fun – than watching it.

Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

By William L. Riordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Plunkitt of Tammany Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A political machine member describes its operations


The Power Broker

By Robert A. Caro,

Book cover of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

A gnawing hunger for the truth animates this towering author’s work on Robert Moses, New York City’s longtime “master builder” who reshaped and indisputably wrecked large chunks of thriving Gotham over the first half of the twentieth century. This book was staggeringly influential for me as a young urbanist and author coming to grips with the forces that mold the urban landscape. Caro’s intrepid, old-school reporting—a model of investigative journalism, the likes of which we could sorely use more of today—showed how one dogged writer could blow open the portals of power, hold the mighty to account, and reframe how we see our world.

The Power Broker

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Power Broker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro is 'simply one of the best non-fiction books in English of the last forty years' (Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times): a riveting and timeless account of power, politics and the city of New York by 'the greatest political biographer of our times' (Sunday Times); chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time and by the Modern Library as one of the 100 Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century; Winner of the Pulitzer Prize; a Sunday Times Bestseller; 'An outright masterpiece' (Evening Standard)

The Power Broker tells the…


What It Takes

By Richard Ben Cramer,

Book cover of What It Takes: The Way to the White House

Why would anybody in their right mind put themselves through the agonies of a presidential campaign? And what does it take to win? Cramer’s account of the crowded 1988 campaign is less about strategy and tactics than the personality and character of the candidates (including Joe Biden, Bob Dole, and George H. W. Bush). Ego and ambition, courage and cowardice are on display here, but so too is an almost across-the-board sense of honor and duty that’s in rare supply today.

What It Takes

By Richard Ben Cramer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What It Takes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Quite possibly the finest book on presidential politics ever written, combining meticulous reporting and compelling, at times soaringly lyrical, prose." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

An American Iliad in the guise of contemporary political reportage, What It Takes penetrates the mystery at the heart of all presidential campaigns: How do presumably ordinary people acquire that mixture of ambition, stamina, and pure shamelessness that makes a true candidate? As he recounts the frenzied course of the 1988 presidential race -- and scours the psyches of contenders from George Bush and Robert Dole to Michael Dukakis and Gary Hart -- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist…


Politics and the English Language

By George Orwell,

Book cover of Politics and the English Language

A little essay, not a book. It can be found in many collections of Orwell’s work, and it has been my lodestar over many years of writing about politics. At first, it appears to be about politicians and the way they manipulate language to hide their intentions, often with disastrous results. But Orwell is actually addressing those of us who write about politics. Will we allow ourselves to become instruments of propaganda? I re-read this essay yearly—a sort of mental booster vaccine.

Politics and the English Language

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Politics and the English Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Politics and the English Language' is widely considered Orwell's most important essay on style. Style, for Orwell, was never simply a question of aesthetics; it was always inextricably linked to politics and to truth.'All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.'Language is a political issue, and slovenly use of language and cliches make it easier for those in power to deliberately use misleading language to hide unpleasant political facts. Bad English, he believed, was a vehicle for oppressive ideology, and it is…


The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Book cover of The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I

Great biographers never ignore the warts, and Lyndon Johnson—the subject of Robert Caro’s masterful quartet of biographies—had plenty of them. For starters, LBJ mishandled the war in Vietnam, for which history will never forgive him. But Johnson was also a stunning contradiction—a rural Texas conservative who did more for urban society than anyone in modern history—and an absolute force of nature. I served as a White House Fellow under him in 1966-67. Close to Johnson, you could sense his nobility.

The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Path to Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The greatest biography of our era ... Essential reading for those who want to comprehend power and politics' The Times

Robert A. Caro's legendary, multi-award-winning biography of US President Lyndon Johnson is a uniquely riveting and revelatory account of power, political genius and the shaping of twentieth-century America.

This first instalment tells of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country, revealing in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy and ambition that set LBJ apart. It charts his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut…


The Gay Place

By Billy Lee Brammer,

Book cover of The Gay Place

Brammer’s novel has resonated throughout my career, warning of almost inevitable disillusionment with a political powerhouse. Brammer had served as a top aide to Lyndon Johnson, on whom he based Arthur Fenstemaker, a star as bright as Penn Warren’s Willie Stark. The Gay Place spoke to me even more directly, focusing on minor politicos and their ambitions, frailties, and humanity. And the book drove home, through a pervading sadness, the anomie that rises from disillusionment. Brammer’s “Flea Circus” metaphor continues to amuse and bum me.

The Gay Place

By Billy Lee Brammer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gay Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in Texas, The Gay Place consists of three interlocking novels, each with a different protagonist-a member of the state legislature, the state's junior senator, and the governor's press secretary. The governor himself, Arthur Fenstemaker, a master politician, infinitely canny and seductive, remains the dominant figure throughout.

Billy Lee Brammer-who served on Lyndon Johnson's staff-gives us here "the excitement of a political carnival: the sideshows, the freaks, and the ghoulish comedy atmosphere" (Saturday Review).

Originally published in 1961, The Gay Place is at once a cult classic and a major American novel.


Personal History

By Katharine Graham,

Book cover of Personal History

Personal History is Katharine Graham’s memoir. She became the first female Fortune 500 CEO when she took over at The Washington Post. From having Warren Buffet as a mentor to presiding over The Washington Post during Watergate, her life was absolutely fascinating. There is so much to learn about leading, women’s empowerment, and how we show up at work through Graham’s journey. What makes this book unique, though, is that in addition to being a classic in the women’s leadership genre, it’s as juicy and riveting as your best suspense novel.

Personal History

By Katharine Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personal History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As seen in the new movie The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep, here is the captivating, inside story of the woman who piloted the Washington Post during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of American media.

In this bestselling and widely acclaimed memoir, Katharine Graham, the woman who piloted the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, tells her story - one that is extraordinary both for the events it encompasses and for the courage, candour and dignity of its telling.

Here is the awkward child who grew up…


The Passage of Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Book cover of The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Imagine you’re Vice President Lyndon Johnson on Nov. 22, 1963. The Secret Service just hustled you into a secure room at the Dallas hospital where doctors are desperately trying to keep President John F. Kennedy alive after an assassination attempt. What’s going through your mind? If Kennedy dies, what are your next steps? Robert Caro found out. Pulitzer-winner Caro is the greatest historian of our lifetime—and a brilliant, accessible writer who makes it impossible to put down a 700-page nonfiction book. The Passage of Power is the fourth of a planned five-volume biography of Johnson, the man who helped turn Martin Luther King’s dream into reality, and then self-imploded with the Vietnam War. Caro’s final volume will be an instant best-seller.

The Passage of Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Passage of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE, THE MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE, THE AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK PRIZE

Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece.”

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power…


A White House Diary

By Lady Bird Johnson,

Book cover of A White House Diary

Lady Bird’s diary is worth reading no matter what you are studying. She is insightful, funny, and attentive to her unique perspective as First Lady. In terms of understanding Pat, the diary offers an outsider’s view from someone who understood Pat’s situation personally. The tidbits concerning their first post-election meeting and then subsequent visits provide evidence of Pat’s humor, humility, and kindness.

A White House Diary

By Lady Bird Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A White House Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available again in paperback--Lady Bird Johnson


America's Stolen Narrative

By Robert Parry,

Book cover of America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama

This is an encyclopedia for anybody who wants to doublecheck the official version of events in US history starting from George Washington all the way through the presidencies of Nixon, the two Bushes, and Barak Obama. Investigative journalist Robert Parry worked for Associated Press and Newsweek on the Iran-Contra affair and spent years on the October Surprise, that cost President Jimmy Carter a second term. If you want to understand the role of the arms industry on US foreign policy since World War II, this is a great start. Or as President Eisenhower put it in his farewell address: “… we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

America's Stolen Narrative

By Robert Parry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked America's Stolen Narrative as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry reframes key chapters of American history by exploring past events that still drive the U.S. political narrative – from why the Framers junked the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution, to how the modern Republican Party embraced a win-at-all-cost ethos, to why the Democrats shy away from the hard work of accountability.

AMERICA’S STOLEN NARRATIVE takes you on a journey from America’s founding – and the plotting of George Washington and James Madison – to Richard Nixon’s sabotage of Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks, on to the Watergate scandal (showing how those two dark…


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