100 books like The Presidential Quest

By M. J. Heale,

Here are 100 books that The Presidential Quest fans have personally recommended if you like The Presidential Quest. 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 The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century

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?

This book has been one of the most interesting and enjoyable ones I have read recently. Grinspan looks at how political parties tried to cement voters’ loyalty for a lifetime by courting their first (or virgin) vote. He also discusses the importance of voting and political parties in shaping the lives of young people. Young people are often overlooked in traditional historical scholarship, but Grinspan treats them seriously.  

By Jon Grinspan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There was a time when young people were the most passionate participants in American democracy. In the second half of the nineteenth century--as voter turnout reached unprecedented peaks--young people led the way, hollering, fighting, and flirting at massive midnight rallies. Parents trained their children to be "violent little partisans," while politicians lobbied twenty-one-year-olds for their "virgin votes"-the first ballot cast upon reaching adulthood. In schoolhouses, saloons, and squares, young men and women proved that democracy is social and politics is personal, earning their adulthood by participating in public life.

Drawing on hundreds of diaries and letters of diverse young Americans--from…


Book cover of Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic

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?

This collection set me on the road of thinking about how politics consisted of more than just voting and holding office. Essays by Nancy Isenberg (on Aaron Burr and sexual politics), Jeff Pasley (on Thomas Jefferson and blocks of cheese), Andrew Robertson (on electioneering rituals), and Rosemarie Zagarri (on women and political parties) have been particularly influential in shaping my thinking about the interaction between traditional politics and cultural politics.

By Jeffrey L. Pasley (editor), Andrew W. Robertson (editor), David Waldstreicher (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In pursuit of a more sophisticated and inclusive American history, the contributors to Beyond the Founders propose new directions for the study of the political history of the republic before 1830. In ways formal and informal, symbolic and tactile, this political world encompassed blacks, women, entrepreneurs, and Native Americans, as well as the Adamses, Jeffersons, and Jacksons, all struggling in their own ways to shape the new nation and express their ideas of American democracy. Taking inspiration from the new cultural and social histories, these political historians show that the early history of the United States was not just the…


Book cover of We Mean to Be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia

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?

Varon’s book is another classic study. She examines not only the role of women in supporting traditionally male political activities but also in broadening the definition of what constituted political activity. While Varon focuses on Virginia, evidence of her argument can be seen in other parts of the United States, as I found in my own research.

By Elizabeth R. Varon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Mean to Be Counted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the past two decades, historians have successfully disputed the notion that American women remained wholly outside the realm of politics until the early twentieth century. Still, a consensus has prevailed that, unlike their Northern counterparts, women of the antebellum South were largely excluded from public life. With this book, Elizabeth Varon effectively challenges such historical assumptions. Using a wide array of sources, she demonstrates that throughout the antebellum period, white Southern women of the slaveholding class were important actors in the public drama of politics. Through their voluntary associations, legislative petitions, presence at political meetings and rallies, and published…


Book cover of Harnessing Harmony: Music, Power, and Politics in the United States, 1788–1865

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?

The connection between music and contemporary politics is obvious, but it is easy to forget that before Woody Guthrie, the protest songs of the 1960s, Green Day, and Keke Palmer, music was an integral part of national politics. Coleman unsurprisingly contends that political music in the early U.S. was collective and participatory, but he goes on to argue that elites used it to enforce conformity, an interesting twist on how we traditionally think of political music as challenging the status quo. 

By Billy Coleman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Following the creation of the United States, profound disagreements remained over how to secure the survival of the republic and unite its diverse population. In this pathbreaking account, Billy Coleman uses the history of American music to illuminate the relationship between elite power and the people from the early national period to the Civil War. Based on deep archival research in sources such as music periodicals, songbooks, and manuals for musical instruction, Coleman argues that a particular ideal of musical power provided conservative elites with an attractive road map for producing the harmonious union they desired. He reassesses the logic…


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 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 Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

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?

The 1972 campaign was one of the most lopsided in history, but it produced not one but two classic accounts. The first was Timothy Crouse’s Boys on the Bus. The second was Hunter S. Thompson’s uproarious, passionate, frankly partisan but insightful account. During my forty years of teaching modern US history, this was a class favorite.

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 50th anniversary edition of “the best account yet published of what it feels like to be out there in the middle of the American political process” (The New York Times Book Review) featuring a new foreword from Johnny Knoxville.

A half-century after its original publication, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 remains a cornerstone of American political journalism and one of the bestselling campaign books of all time. Thompson’s searing account of the battle for the 1972 presidency—from the Democratic primaries to the eventual showdown between George McGovern and Richard Nixon—is infused with the…


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 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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