100 books like Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Here are 100 books that Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 fans have personally recommended if you like Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Patrick J. Maney Author Of Bill Clinton: New Gilded Age President

From my list on presidential campaigns.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the 1960 presidential campaign, between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, that I first became enthralled with politics and history. I was only thirteen, so it never occurred to me at the time that I would end up abandoning my childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor and instead devote most of my adult life to teaching and writing political history. Because of what happened to me, I’m recommending five classic presidential campaign accounts. Because they were written by firsthand observers, they convey a vivid sense of how events, with all of their uncertainties appeared at the time before they became fixed in history.  

Patrick's book list on presidential campaigns

Patrick J. Maney Why did Patrick love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics

John Houle Author Of The Siberian Candidate

From my list on political thrillers that teach you about real world events.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a political consultant for much of the first half of my nearly 30-year career in communications. Having run statewide and local political campaigns, I experienced many of the personalities I write about today. What is behind the political decisions elected leaders make? Can you truly be a dedicated public servant in politics today? If you only play to win, how do you keep from becoming your own worst enemy? My writing and the works I gravitate towards explore these challenging issues, which are as prevalent today as they were analyzed by the Greeks, Shakespeare, and 20th-century writers.

John's book list on political thrillers that teach you about real world events

John Houle Why did John love this book?

Primary Colors is one of the finest illustrations of the coming of age of modern politics. 

Ripped from the headlines of the day, Primary Colors provides a true-to-life experience of what it was like leading up to Clinton’s upset over Bush. It’s a fine expose and morality play in which we see how ethics can be compromised in the pursuit of power.

By Anonymous,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Primary Colors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel provocatively based on an insider's devastating account of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. The anonymous author is reported to be someone close to the Clintons.


Book cover of An American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968

Patrick J. Maney Author Of Bill Clinton: New Gilded Age President

From my list on presidential campaigns.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the 1960 presidential campaign, between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, that I first became enthralled with politics and history. I was only thirteen, so it never occurred to me at the time that I would end up abandoning my childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor and instead devote most of my adult life to teaching and writing political history. Because of what happened to me, I’m recommending five classic presidential campaign accounts. Because they were written by firsthand observers, they convey a vivid sense of how events, with all of their uncertainties appeared at the time before they became fixed in history.  

Patrick's book list on presidential campaigns

Patrick J. Maney Why did Patrick love this book?

Outsiders sometimes see us better than we can see ourselves. Such is the case with the three British journalists who covered the tumultuous 1968 presidential campaign that took place during a year of assassinations, civil unrest, and war. Their account detected fault lines in the political system that still emperil us today but also reminds us that—however much we may wring our hands today—we’ve survived more perilous times. 

By Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson, Bruce Page

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An American Melodrama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A true original collectors item with a rare white background on cover and very minimal wear. This is a great book that's being sold at much higher prices but we are pricing ours to sell quickly.


Book cover of The Boys on the Bus

Patrick J. Maney Author Of Bill Clinton: New Gilded Age President

From my list on presidential campaigns.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the 1960 presidential campaign, between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, that I first became enthralled with politics and history. I was only thirteen, so it never occurred to me at the time that I would end up abandoning my childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor and instead devote most of my adult life to teaching and writing political history. Because of what happened to me, I’m recommending five classic presidential campaign accounts. Because they were written by firsthand observers, they convey a vivid sense of how events, with all of their uncertainties appeared at the time before they became fixed in history.  

Patrick's book list on presidential campaigns

Patrick J. Maney Why did Patrick love this book?

There’s never been a better book about the role of the media in presidential politics than Timothy Crouse’s classic account of the 1972 campaign between Richard Nixon and George McGovern. The campaign “bus” may be more inclusive today than it was fifty years ago, but the story remains much the same.

By Timothy Crouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boys on the Bus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cheap booze. Flying fleshpots. Lack of sleep. Endless spin. Lying pols.

Just a few of the snares lying in wait for the reporters who covered the 1972 presidential election. Traveling with the press pack from the June primaries to the big night in November, Rolling Stone reporter Timothy Crouse hopscotched the country with both the Nixon and McGovern campaigns and witnessed the birth of modern campaign journalism. The Boys on the Bus is the raucous story of how American news got to be what it is today. With its verve, wit, and psychological acumen, it is a classic of American…


Book cover of The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It

Anita Bartholomew Author Of Siege: An American Tragedy

From my list on plots to overthrow the US government.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a long-time contributor to Reader's Digest (and former contributing editor), specializing in narrative nonfiction who has covered social and geopolitical issues for the magazine. I'm also a political junkie who loves to dig into little-known aspects of history and current events. 

Anita's book list on plots to overthrow the US government

Anita Bartholomew Why did Anita love this book?

The Steal documents what happened in the weeks between the 2020 presidential election and January 6th in swing states that Biden won, where Trump persuaded local loyalists that the election had been rigged. Avid Trump supporters embraced every wild conspiracy theory Trump World tossed their way—imagining minor glitches to be bulletproof evidence of massive fraud. 

As the author of another narrative about the collateral damage wrought by purveyors of the Big Lie, I had obvious reasons to be drawn to The Steal. It deftly see-saws between besieged election workers and officials trying to do their jobs in the face of unrelenting pressure, and those who—truth, law, and logic be damned—applied that pressure. The Steal fascinates, both as a commentary on human nature and a ground-level account of an attempted coup.  

By Mark Bowden, Matthew Teague,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A gripping ground-level narrative…a marvel of reporting: tightly wound… but also panoramic.”—Washington Post

“A lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks.”—New York Times

In The Steal, veteran journalists Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague offer a week-by-week, state-by-state account of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

In the sixty-four days between November 3 and January 6, President Donald Trump and his allies fought to reverse the outcome of the vote. Focusing on six states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—Trump’s supporters claimed widespread voter fraud.

Caught up in this effort were scores of activists, lawyers, judges,…


Book cover of Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

Identity Crisis delivers a compelling account of the 2016 Presidential campaign.

The book explains how the election played out and what factors led to Trump’s seemingly surprising victory.

The authors explore the many plausible reasons for the outcome, eventually concluding that the racially charged language of the campaign, particularly from Trump, provoked voters’ pre-existing divisions on racial issues and prompted them to vote based on identity.

In addition, they address how identity compared to factors such as economic anxiety and dissatisfaction as explanations for Trump’s success. The 2016 election was indicative of a more apparent American crisis that raised issues such as who is American and what the values of the country are.

By John Sides, Michael Tesler, Lynn Vavreck

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping in-depth look at the presidential election that stunned the world

Donald Trump's election victory resulted in one of the most unexpected presidencies in history. Identity Crisis provides the definitive account of the campaign that seemed to break all the political rules-but in fact didn't. Featuring a new afterword by the authors that discusses the 2018 midterms and today's emerging political trends, this compelling book describes how Trump's victory was foreshadowed by changes in the Democratic and Republican coalitions that were driven by people's racial and ethnic identities, and how the Trump campaign exacerbated these divisions by hammering away…


Book cover of The Presidential Quest: Candidates and Images in American Political Culture, 1787-1852

Mark R. Cheathem Author Of The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson

From my list on early U.S. presidential campaigning.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of the U.S. presidency, I have long been fascinated by the ways in which aspirants for the White House energize and harness popular support for their candidacy. Tracing the development of electioneering practices from the early 1800s to today has been fascinating. Is there a connection between the hickory sprigs worn by Andrew Jackson’s supporters and the MAGA hats worn by Donald Trump’s supporters? Between the political rallies of William Henry Harrison and those of every modern presidential candidate? Between the derision leveled at politically active women in the 1830s and that directed at Sarah Palin and Hilary Rodham Clinton in the twenty-first century? You betcha!

Mark's book list on early U.S. presidential campaigning

Mark R. Cheathem Why did Mark love this book?

Heale’s book is a classic look at how Early Republic presidential candidates and presidents curated their public image. Reading it made me realize how much political mythology was deliberately crafted during the early decades of the U.S. presidency, an obvious point in hindsight and a particularly important one in thinking about the contemporary relevancy. I gain new insights every time I read it.  

By M. J. Heale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Heale, M. J.


Book cover of Campaign of the Century: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From my list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Geoff Shepard Why did Geoff love this book?

Gellman is a nationally-recognized historian, whose writings reflect thorough and insightful research. His earlier books – on Nixon’s time in Congress (The Contender) and as Eisenhower’s vice president (The President and the Apprentice) – meticulously debunked derogatory stories about Nixon, and this one on the 1960 campaign does the same. Many believe Theodore White’s Making of the President,1960 is the only authoritative account of that contest, but Gellman points out how White set out to idolize Kennedy and villainize Nixon – never once actually speaking to Nixon, either during or following the campaign. Gellman is an excellent writer, putting his readers right in the center of historic events. His final chapter, bringing the campaign all together is simply outstanding.

By Irwin F. Gellman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on massive new research, a compelling and surprising account of the twentieth century's closest election

"[Gellman] offers as detailed an exploration of the 1960 presidential race as can be found."-Robert W. Merry, Wall Street Journal

"A brilliant work . . . the research is absolutely phenomenal . . . This book should receive every accolade the publishing industry can give it, including the Pulitzer Prize."-John Rothmann, KGO's "The John Rothmann Show"

The 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon is one of the most frequently described political events of the twentieth century, yet the accounts to…


Book cover of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From my list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Geoff Shepard Why did Geoff love this book?

Pat Buchanan joined Nixon’s staff in 1966 and was the conservative guru on his White House staff throughout Nixon’s terms in office. Totally written off for dead after his 1962 loss to Edmund “Pat” Brown as California’s governor, Nixon remerged to be sworn in as our 37th President in January 1969 – and Pat was with him every step of the way. This book is Buchanan’s insider account of how that recovery was planned, executed, and ultimately achieved. Its stories reflect lessons and insights for everyone interested in national campaigns. I served alongside Pat in the Nixon White House, but this volume fills in intimate details of Nixon’s wilderness years – before he took the oath of office.

By Patrick J. Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Patrick J. Buchanan, bestselling author and senior advisor to Richard Nixon, tells the definitive story of Nixon's resurrection from the political graveyard and his rise to the presidency.

After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon's career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and…


Book cover of The Election of the Evangelical: Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and the Presidential Contest of 1976

Robert L. Fleegler Author Of Brutal Campaign: How the 1988 Election Set the Stage for Twenty-First-Century American Politics

From my list on explaining today’s polarized US politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a history professor at the University of Mississippi and I've been a political junkie for a long time. I really began following politics during the 1988 presidential election and I vividly remember reading about the race in the newspaper every morning and then watching the evening news coverage each night. Thus, it seemed like the perfect topic for my second book. It was really fascinating to see the similarities and differences between my memories and the sources from the time.

Robert's book list on explaining today’s polarized US politics

Robert L. Fleegler Why did Robert love this book?

Williams’ book is an excellent look at an earlier election with many similarities to 1988. 

As opposed to today’s elections where candidates work to motivate their bases, Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Gerald Ford worked to build broad electoral coalitions in 1976. They had to concern themselves with both liberal and conservative constituencies within their own parties. 

In the end, Carter was able to unite the old New Deal coalition for one last hurrah while Ford nearly provided a last gasp for traditional establishment conservatism. By 1988, the two parties were not the same big tents they were in 1976 but still featured much greater ideological diversity than they do today.

By Daniel K. Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From where we stand now, the election of 1976 can look like an alternate reality: southern white evangelicals united with African Americans, northern Catholics, and Jews in support of a Democratic presidential candidate; the Republican candidate, a social moderate whose wife proudly proclaimed her support for Roe v. Wade, was able to win over Great Plains farmers as well as cultural liberals in Oregon, California, Connecticut, and New Jersey - even as he lost Ohio, Texas, and nearly the entire South. The Election of the Evangelical offers an unprecedented, behind-the-headlines analysis of this now almost unimaginable political moment, which proved…


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