10 books like The Last Hurrah

By Edwin O'Connor,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Last Hurrah. 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 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.


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.


Still Life with Murder

By P.B. Ryan,

Book cover of Still Life with Murder

This is the first in the Nell Sweeney Mystery series. And the slow-burn romance extends over the whole series. Set in 19th Century Boston, these little gems kept me on the edge of my seat, while immersing me in the historical period.

Normally, I don’t find drug addicts make for the best romantic heroes, but William Hewett is not your typical hero. Sure, he was a surgeon in the Civil War, where he was injured physically and emotionally and has become hooked on opium because of it, but he’s not a scorch-your-panties-off kind of hot. (It is the Victorian era, after all.) Yet he’s a compelling character and perfect for the heroine who helps to save him. I found I was rooting for this pair every step of the way. I wanted him to heal, kick his habit, and have his HEA with the unconventional Miss Sweeney.

Still Life with Murder

By P.B. Ryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Still Life with Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Faith

By Jennifer Haigh,

Book cover of Faith

Hemingway once said that a writer should “convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.” As a reader, I don’t always need to feel like the story has happened to me, but when a book is written in first-person narrative, I do enjoy feeling like it really happened to the narrator. I love it when the main character sounds authentic and the author fades to the background, making it seem like a memoir. Such a book is Faith, by Jennifer Haigh. Although Faith isn’t categorized as crime-fiction, it involves an Irish Catholic family in Boston in 2002 during the height of the church’s pedophile scandals. As the narrator navigates her family dynamics after her half-brother is accused of sexual assault, she becomes a woman caught between faith and doubt, and she explores this limbo…

Faith

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One woman's search for the truth after scandal rocks her family, and the explosive family secrets she uncovers, in this complex, moving novel from award-winning author Jennifer Haigh.

In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the repercussions of one family's history of silence, when a priest's sex scandal forces his family's untold past to surface. Art, Sheila, and Mike are siblings in a large extended Irish-American family from the Boston suburbs. Though their father is a non-believer, their mother is lace curtain Irish-Catholic, having raised her children to keep family secrets just that - secret - in a home where most subjects…


Looking for Rachel Wallace

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Looking for Rachel Wallace

Street names, the Charles River, bridges, the Back Bay, the Public Gardens, actual hotels and restaurants—Robert B. Parker’s forty Spenser novels make Boston so much a character that Parker wrote Spenser’s Boston. The sixth novel in the series, published in 1980, has Spenser searching for a missing lesbian activist who’s been kidnapped by an anti-gay group. Like Buffalo, Boston sometimes gets a lot of snow. Unlike Buffalo, which is not the snowiest city in New York but is depicted as such, Boston is not known as a snow capital. That Spenser must search during a blizzard is a welcome dose of realism.

Looking for Rachel Wallace

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Looking for Rachel Wallace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


A Civil Action

By Jonathan Harr,

Book cover of A Civil Action

This gripping true story of a water contamination lawsuit in Woburn, Massachusetts highlights the best our legal system can be. (Yes, I made an exception for non-fiction here, but only because it was assigned reading in law school. But it reads like a novel, I promise.) After her child is diagnosed with leukemia, Anne Anderson realizes the cancer cluster among her neighbors is caused by contamination of the town's water supply. She convinces a lawyer, Jan Schlichtmann, to take on the case when he discovers that several nearby factories are responsible for the pollution. In taking on the case against the deep pockets of the corporate defendants, Schlichtmann is nearly destroyed seeking justice for the town. (John Travolta stars in a great film adaptation of this book playing Schlichtmann.)

A Civil Action

By Jonathan Harr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of a lawyer's battle to win compensation from two of America's largest industrial giants. He fought on behalf of 21 families whose lives were wrecked by illness and death due to the alleged poisoning of their town well. This case became renowned in American legal history.

Blanche Cleans Up

By Barbara Neely,

Book cover of Blanche Cleans Up: A Blanche White Mystery

This is the third of Barbara Neely’s mysteries about a peppery African-American housekeeper, Blanche White, and the dirt she finds while she’s cleaning other people’s houses. It’s a different house in each of the novels – and a tough task to choose just one, I can tell you. This time, we find Blanche in Boston working for the Brahmin-ish Brindle family, who have got “too-good-to-be-true” written all over them. There’s a nifty plot, but what I love (and this can’t be a surprise after the first four books, surely) is Blanche’s take on everything from how a spice-rack is organised, to why rich people have such ugly art. She is irresistible. I wish somehow she could meet Frances Wray (from The Paying Guests) and share some of her moxie. I’d kind of love to hear her thoughts on the Mortmains too.

Blanche Cleans Up

By Barbara Neely,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blanche Cleans Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Early Autumn

When I think about the interaction of my own two detectives, Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido, I know Parker’s influence is still present. The banter between his iconic private eyes Spenser and Hawk is some of the very best dialogue you will find in crime fiction. He also had the wonderful ability to make even minor characters three-dimensional and interesting.

Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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