69 books like The Last Hurrah

By Edwin O'Connor,

Here are 69 books that The Last Hurrah fans have personally recommended if you like The Last Hurrah. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of All the King's Men

James Sulzer Author Of The Voice at the Door

From my list on poets and politics.

Who am I?

As a teenager, I “discovered” the poetry of Emily Dickinson and put her verse to music. Later, at Yale University I delved deeper into the power of rhythms, the beauty of images, the clarity of insights—how they combine to create a genuine poetic voice that reveals an interior world. Politics, of course, define our interactions in the exterior world, and great novels meld these two elements—poetry and politics—into a seamless union. I’ve been inspired to write novels about two poets—Emily Dickinson and John Keats—to bring the reader into the intense, poetic world of their blazing interiors and their unique outward politics.

James' book list on poets and politics

James Sulzer Why did James love this book?

Harsh politics and tender poetic feelings: All the King’s Men is a classic novel about the rise and fall of a would-be dictator named Willie Stark. But it’s also about the personal lives of the people behind the power struggles—especially the bemused, poetic narrator, Jack Burden, who loses the love of his life, Anne Stanton, to the increasingly tyrannical Stark. As a teenager I fell in love with the love story. This novel convinced me of the power of combining the personal and the public, which I am working on in my new novel about the Black Panther rally in New Haven in 1970.

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16.

What is this book about?

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


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

Charles Robbins Author Of The Accomplice

From my list on political bosses.

Who am I?

Political power has intrigued me since I read Macbeth and Machiavelli in high school – how to acquire it, wield it, and keep it, and how it seduces and ultimately corrupts. Political bosses fascinated me – Svengalis who built empires, often through charisma, populism, and ruthlessness. I began writing about politics as a newspaper reporter, then ran press shops for lawmakers and candidates, including a presidential campaign; co-wrote three nonfiction books with senators, including a former majority leader; then turned to writing fiction, a passion since boyhood, largely under the theme “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  

Charles' book list on political bosses

Charles Robbins Why did Charles love this book?

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.

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


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.

Who am I?

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 The Gay Place

Charles Robbins Author Of The Accomplice

From my list on political bosses.

Who am I?

Political power has intrigued me since I read Macbeth and Machiavelli in high school – how to acquire it, wield it, and keep it, and how it seduces and ultimately corrupts. Political bosses fascinated me – Svengalis who built empires, often through charisma, populism, and ruthlessness. I began writing about politics as a newspaper reporter, then ran press shops for lawmakers and candidates, including a presidential campaign; co-wrote three nonfiction books with senators, including a former majority leader; then turned to writing fiction, a passion since boyhood, largely under the theme “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  

Charles' book list on political bosses

Charles Robbins Why did Charles love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Huey Long

Charles Robbins Author Of The Accomplice

From my list on political bosses.

Who am I?

Political power has intrigued me since I read Macbeth and Machiavelli in high school – how to acquire it, wield it, and keep it, and how it seduces and ultimately corrupts. Political bosses fascinated me – Svengalis who built empires, often through charisma, populism, and ruthlessness. I began writing about politics as a newspaper reporter, then ran press shops for lawmakers and candidates, including a presidential campaign; co-wrote three nonfiction books with senators, including a former majority leader; then turned to writing fiction, a passion since boyhood, largely under the theme “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  

Charles' book list on political bosses

Charles Robbins Why did Charles love this book?

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.

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.

What is this book about?

He was one of the most extraordinary figures in American political history, a great natural politician who looked, and often seemed to behave, like a caricature of the red-neck Southern politico - and yet he had become, at the time of his assassination, a serious rival to Franklin D. Roosevelt for the presidency.

In this "masterpiece of American biography" (New York Times), Huey Long stands wholly revealed, analyzed, and understood.


Book cover of The Da Vinci Code

John Houle Author Of The Siberian Candidate

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

Who am I?

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?

When a book opens a whole new perspective, and turns your world upside down, that’s a great work. Such is the case with The Da Vinci Code for me.

When any work of fiction can make such a compelling argument in a fast-paced thriller format, it is truly masterful. So much of my writing style I can attribute to Dan Brown, who may go down as one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Da Vinci Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes.

As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci - and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vault of history.

Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the…


Book cover of The Power of the Dog

John Houle Author Of The Siberian Candidate

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

Who am I?

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?

I am fascinated with the application of power and its intersection with business and politics.

Winslow’s expose on the Mexican drug cartels provides a real-life description of the tragedies of America’s longest war and the unexpected consequences. It is thought provoking as well as entertaining, opening up my own world to new thoughts on the realities of American intervention in South America to prevent the spread of Communism.

By Don Winslow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Breathtaking' JEREMY CLARKSON
'Winslow's masterpiece (so far) ... should have a place on every crime freak's bookshelf. Superb' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
_______________________
A brilliant page-turning thriller of power and revenge on the front lines of the drug war.

Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug federacion, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture and murder of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his…


Book cover of The Cartel

John Houle Author Of The Siberian Candidate

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

Who am I?

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?

Having read the series out of order, The Cartel was my first Winslow book. His story was so captivating that I needed to go back and read how it all started.

The fact that I could start with The Cartel without having read the origin story is an example of Winslow’s talent. The Cartel is a great stand-alone story, made even better when its two companion books are added together. Winslow has developed compelling characters, and it's enjoyable to watch how they evolve and face new challenges.

By Don Winslow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling second novel in the explosive Power of the Dog series—an action-filled look at the drug trade that takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge.

Book Two of the Power of the Dog Series

It’s 2004. Adán Barrera, kingpin of El Federación, is languishing in a California federal prison. Ex-DEA agent Art Keller passes his days in a monastery, having lost everything to his thirty-year blood feud with the drug lord. Then Barrera escapes. Now, there’s a two-million-dollar bounty on Keller’s head and no one else capable of taking Barrera…


Book cover of Small Mercies

Christopher Swann Author Of Never Back Down

From my list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters.

Who am I?

I love crime fiction, but the genre can be very much a boys’ club where women are sometimes reduced to femmes fatales or victims who need to be saved. When I look at my bookshelves, I realize how many of the books I’ve read are written by men about men. There’s nothing wrong with stories about men, but I have a lot of strong women in my life, and I’ve learned so much from listening to their perspectives. As a writer, I like pushing myself to try and create strong female characters who find themselves ensnared in a crime and have to figure their way out.

Christopher's book list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters

Christopher Swann Why did Christopher love this book?

I’ve loved Lehane’s fiction ever since reading his Kenzie & Gennaro series, and Small Mercies is a small miracle.

It’s 1974, and the city of Boston is preparing to desegregate its public schools in the face of threats and violence. Mary Pat Fennessy, a tough Irish broad from Southie, is searching for her teenage daughter who failed to come home one night. Her questions irritate the local Irish mob. And when a young Black man is found dead under mysterious circumstances, the city is primed to explode.

As a Gen Xer, I found the 1970s setting on point and revelatory. Desperate and determined, Mary Pat is a force of nature. I loved the thrilling plot, the searing portrayal of racism and politics, and this fierce, flawed, and unflinching protagonist.

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Instant New York Times Bestseller

“Small Mercies is thought provoking, engaging, enraging, and can’t-put-it-down entertainment.” — Stephen King

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling writer returns with a masterpiece to rival Mystic River—an all-consuming tale of revenge, family love, festering hate, and insidious power, set against one of the most tumultuous episodes in Boston’s history.

In the summer of 1974 a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessy is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Mary Pat has lived her entire life in the housing projects of “Southie,” the Irish American enclave that stubbornly adheres to…


Book cover of Still Life with Murder

Nhys Glover Author Of The Barbarian's Mistress

From my list on hot, tortured heroes saved by love.

Who am I?

I’ve always read and written Romance. But while my real life took center stage, I consigned my manuscripts to gather dust in my bottom desk drawer and went off to teach English and History and raise a family. When my real life got less hectic and the Indie Revolution started, I dragged my stories out, dusted them off, and started publishing them. Lo and behold, readers loved them as much as I did, and suddenly I had a whole new career. Teaching literature tends to make you critical, and I was super-critical of my ‘trashy’ romances. Now I’m proud I write stories women can read to relax and be entertained by. 

Nhys' book list on hot, tortured heroes saved by love

Nhys Glover Why did Nhys love this book?

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.

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.

What is this book about?

“What a thoroughly charming book! A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place.” —NYT bestselling author Barbara Hambly

Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.

The Hewitts’ eldest son, William, a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Boston, Irish Americans, and politics?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Boston, Irish Americans, and politics.

Boston Explore 167 books about Boston
Irish Americans Explore 33 books about Irish Americans
Politics Explore 688 books about politics