10 books like Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

By William L. Riordan,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Plunkitt of Tammany Hall. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren,

Book cover of All the King's Men

The early ‘30s were marked by the rise of Huey P. Long, Louisiana’s populist governor, senator, and cult leader whom FDR called “the most dangerous man in America.” In All the King’s Men, the character of Willie Stark is based on Long and gives us a richly detailed look into the labyrinthine politics of the times. Fiction, but painfully true, not just to Long and the ways he corrupted decent people but to our own political times, as well. Favorite quote: “Politics is a matter of choices, and a man doesn't set up the choices himself. And there is always a price to make a choice. You know that. You've made a choice, and you know how much it cost you. There is always a price.”

All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Willie Stark's obsession with political power leads to the ultimate corruption of his gubernatorial administration.

The Power Broker

By Robert A. Caro,

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

Arguably, no single person has shaped the built environment of New York City as much as Robert Moses. To some, he was an evil dictator imposing his will on the urban fabric; while to others, he was the man who got things done. In his four-decade career, Moses oversaw the buildings of beaches, parks, highways, bridges, tunnels, public housing, slum clearance projects, and World Fairs. Caro’s work is a detailed chronicle of Moses’ life and projects. Five decades later, one can quibble with Caro’s conclusions, but it remains a jaw-dropping tome about how Moses reshaped New York, for good and for bad.

The Power Broker

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

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


A Political Education

By Harry McPherson,

Book cover of A Political Education: A Washington Memoir

Here’s Lyndon B. Johnson again. As a bright young lawyer, McPherson left Texas to work for a year with Johnson, thinking the experience might open his eyes—and a few doors—at the beginning of his legal career. McPherson stepped onto the rocket sled of politics and never stepped off. This grand old man of Washington paused mid-career to give us the ultimate learning-the-ropes memoir of life inside politics.

A Political Education

By Harry McPherson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This insider's view of Washington in the 1950s and 1960s, of the tumultuous presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and of the conflicts and factions of the president's staff has become a political classic since its original publication in 1972. In this reissue, Harry McPherson adds a new preface in which he reflects on changes in Washington since the Johnson era and on the lessons Bill Clinton could learn from the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.


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.


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 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.


The Last Hurrah

By Edwin O'Connor,

Book cover of The Last Hurrah

James Curley, former Boston mayor, Massachusetts governor, and jailbird – not in that order – was as grand a politico as Huey Long or LBJ, and O’Connor’s novel based on his career holds its own with the classic romans à clef on those two. Frank Skeffington was also a self-made populist, but O’Connor’s book centers on big-city politics and ethnic tensions, which were more immediate to me – I grew up in New York City. Skeffington, a charmer, considered himself innately decent, an honorable man forced to play a dirty game, which made one of my father’s maxims echo: Beware of anyone with a clean conscience.  Skeffington honed words as weapons, which helped me appreciate the power of a good quip.

The Last Hurrah

By Edwin O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"We're living in a sensitive age, Cuke, and I'm not altogether sure you're fully attuned to it." So says Irish-American politician Frank Skeffington-a cynical, corrupt 1950s mayor, and also an old-school gentleman who looks after the constituents of his New England city and enjoys their unwavering loyalty in return. But in our age of dynasties, mercurial social sensitivities, and politicians making love to the camera, Skeffington might as well be talking to us.

Not quite a roman a clef of notorious Boston mayor James Michael Curley, The Last Hurrah tells the story of Skeffington's final campaign as witnessed through the…

Huey Long

By T. Harry Williams,

Book cover of Huey Long

I began reading Williams’s biography as research for a recent historical novel, scanning passages listed in the index. Soon enough, I was gulping whole sections and chapters; I couldn’t stop reading the thing.  Williams reminded me how exuberant political narrative nonfiction can be and taught me as much about writing as about Huey Long. He showed ways to showcase characters’ traits and tells, portraits-in-miniature, in a “God is in the details” vibe. He showed how to set a story in its historical context while also using history as a mirror for contemporary times. And, through Long himself, Williams made me again admire the boundless audacity and ambition that I’d never possessed – and again made me thankful for its absence.

Huey Long

By T. Harry Williams,

Why should I read it?

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


The Gangs of New York

By Herbert Asbury,

Book cover of The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld

In the 19th century, the Bowery and the Five Points neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan were twisted warrens of saloons, brothels, opium dens, and gambling houses, home to gangs of criminals like the Plug Uglies, Bowery Boys, and Dead Rabbits. It’s a complex ecosystem but when it comes to lowlifes Herbert Asbury is an extraordinary naturalist. His book covers a bewildering number of hoodlums, scams, bawdyhouses, convictions, and murders, and the sum total makes a larger impression than any one part. (Although highlights include the depictions of the crooked Tammany Hall political leadership and a chilling account of the New York City draft riots of 1863.) When the book was originally published in 1927, the Prohibition-empowered Italian Mafia pretty much ran Lower Manhattan’s crime and the era of these legendary gangs was already a fading memory. Asbury’s tome captured an entire criminal universe that was packed into a few square blocks,…

The Gangs of New York

By Herbert Asbury,

Why should I read it?

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


Washington

By Ron Chernow,

Book cover of Washington: A Life

I find Ron Chernow’s biography to be the most informative and comprehensive. It is quite a tome at over 800 pages, but worth the read. Chernow has fascinating insights into his character. Washington had a temper that he sought to control. Even in that, he made an impression on people. From the introduction of the book, “His contemporaries admired him not because he was a plaster saint or an empty uniform but because they sensed his unseen power.”

We see Washington develop over his life from early childhood. The loss of his father at age eleven brought him closer to his brother Lawrence, fourteen years his senior. Lawrence became a father figure to him.

After service in the French and Indian War, Washington married Martha Custis. There was true love in the marriage. She spent every winter with him throughout the eight years of the Revolution. She came with…

Washington

By Ron Chernow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The celebrated Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of America. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life, he carries the reader through Washington's troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian Wars, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention and his magnificent performance as America's first president.

Despite the reverence his name inspires Washington remains a waxwork to many readers, worthy but dull, a laconic man of remarkable self-control. But in this groundbreaking work Chernow revises forever the uninspiring…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in George Washington, the American Revolution, and Washington state?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about George Washington, the American Revolution, and Washington state.

George Washington Explore 38 books about George Washington
The American Revolution Explore 95 books about the American Revolution
Washington State Explore 46 books about Washington state