10 books like The Gay Place

By Billy Lee Brammer,

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

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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.

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.


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.


Ambling Into History

By Frank Bruni,

Book cover of Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush

George W. Bush, even today, 14 years after leaving the presidency, is a controversial president. But as with all presidents, to understand their politics and policies you have to first understand their personality and character. That’s what I like about this book: Bruni seeks to explain and understand who Bush was as a man—a man who, although the son of a president, never seemed destined to lead a nation and the world and yet ultimately faced one of the greatest crises in US history. Bruni, a former New York Times reporter who covered Bush as presidential nominee and president, shows W.’s weaknesses and strengths, his somewhat surprising life journey of serious endeavors for an often less-than-serious man, and ultimately how the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed Bush’s entire outlook and demeanor, thrusting him into an unprecedented challenge that elevated the laid-back good-time guy to a serious and dedicated leader.…

Ambling Into History

By Frank Bruni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush. As the principal New York Times reporter assigned to cover George W. Bush's presidential campaign from its earliest stages - and then as a White House correspondent - Frank Bruni has spent as much time around Bush over the last two years as any other reporter. In Ambling Into History, Bruni paints the most thorough, balanced, eloquent and lively portrait yet of a man in many ways ill-suited to the office he sought and won, focusing on small moments that often escaped the news media's notice. From the author's initial introduction to Bush…

Tales of Alaska's Bush Rat Governor

By Jay S. Hammond,

Book cover of Tales of Alaska's Bush Rat Governor: The Extraordinary Autobiography of Jay Hammond Wilderness Guide and Reluctant Politician

Alaska’s politics have always been a blood sport, in part because participants are usually down-to-earth, no-nonsense Alaskans bound and determined to do what they think is right no matter the consequences—even if it costs them an election. 

A former Marine pilot with the famed “Black Sheep” squadron, Jay Hammond came north as a bush pilot and at statehood in 1959 was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives. His self-deprecating accounts of the political battles of the next quarter of a century, including the Permanent Fund, are sure to bring more than a chuckle. I once looked out an aircraft window to see a small plane upside down on a dirt runway at Hamond’s homestead some miles from Port Alsworth. Inquiring, I was told, “Oh, don't worry, Jay’s fine; he just bounced on a bad landing.”

Tales of Alaska's Bush Rat Governor

By Jay S. Hammond,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales of Alaska's Bush Rat Governor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906

By Miguel Antonio Otero,

Book cover of My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906

I’m not usually a fan of political memoirs (I tend to be skeptical of the authors), but this one is an enlightening read in terms of understanding the sorts of structural and governmental prejudices that Hispanic people faced in the early twentieth century as exemplified by New Mexico’s long struggle to obtain statehood. Otero was from a prominent New Mexican family and was the governor of the territory from 1897 to 1906. New Mexico was acquired as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the aftermath of the Mexican-American war in 1848, but it didn’t become a state until 1912, due in part to the anti-Hispanic attitudes in Washington DC that Otero discusses in his book.

My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906

By Miguel Antonio Otero,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miguel Antonio Otero (1859-1944) not only distinguished himself as a political leader in New Mexico and lived out his life as a champion of the people, but he is also highly recognized for his career as an author. He published his legendary My Life on the Frontier, 1864-1882, in 1935, followed by The Real Billy the Kid: With New Light on the Lincoln County War in 1936, My Life on the Frontier, 1882-1897 in 1939, and My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906 in 1940. These books, of which this is one in Sunstone's Southwest…

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…


Say You'll Remember Me

By Katie McGarry,

Book cover of Say You'll Remember Me

Right away, I really loved the musical connection for the male lead’s side. He and his siblings are named after musicians, and I’m big on character names and I adored that element. Not to mention I’m a huge Swiftie and I peeped the title reference right away. Hendrix or “Drix” is recently released from juvie for a crime he did not commit and is inducted into a program aiming to give young offenders second chances and rehabilitate them, sponsored by the governor. And who does he meet while doing press releases for this program? The governor’s daughter Elle! This forbidden element had me engrossed immediately. I loved the idea of Drix being off-limits for Elle, but him being the only person she could be herself with and open up to!

Say You'll Remember Me

By Katie McGarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Say You'll Remember Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Browns of California

By Miriam Pawel,

Book cover of The Browns of California

A sprawling family story that, thanks to the sheer effort and skill of its author, tackles four generations of a political dynasty’s history and shapes it into a history of modern California at the same time. We see the Browns both shaping California and in turn being inexorably shaped by it, and we come away knowing them and knowing the Golden State all the better for this book’s depth and ambition.

The Browns of California

By Miriam Pawel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Browns of California as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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