The most recommended books about politicians

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to politicians, and here are their favorite politician books.
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Book cover of Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage

Manu Herbstein Author Of Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade

From Manu's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historical novelist Citizen of South Africa and Ghana Retired civil engineer Avid reader

Manu's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Manu Herbstein Why did Manu love this book?

This book is described as "a deeply researched, shattering new account of Nelson Mandela's relationship with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela." That it certainly is, both deeply researched and shattering.

I found it page-turning but also deeply disturbing, recalling the Latin cautionary phrase "de mortuis nil nisi bonum." On the other hand, perhaps that injunction to express nothing but good of the dead should not apply to public figures like the Mandelas, both of them proper subjects for a responsible historian like Steinberg.

In the early 1990s, Barbara Masekela served as Nelson Mandela's Chief of Staff. This book contains revealing lengthy extracts from an interview Steinberg conducted with her in 2018, after both Mandelas had died.

By Jonny Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Gripping and profoundly moving' DAMON GALGUT 'Deft and operatic' OBSERVER

From one of South Africa's foremost nonfiction writers, a deeply researched, shattering new account of Nelson Mandela's relationship with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Drawing on never-before-seen material, Steinberg reveals the fractures and stubborn bonds at the heart of a volatile and groundbreaking union, a very modern political marriage that played out on the world stage.

One of the most celebrated political leaders of the twentieth century, Nelson Mandela has been written about by many biographers and historians. But in one crucial area, his life remains largely untold: his marriage to Winnie. During…


Book cover of Eva Peron: The Myths of a Woman

Katie Pickles Author Of Heroines in History: A Thousand Faces

From my list on heroines in history.

Who am I?

I’ve been interested in exploring the characteristics and meaning of heroines in history since I met two fellow travelers in Nova Scotia in 1990 who introduced me to the work of Joseph Campbell and his The Hero with a Thousand Faces. As a history professor I am interested in women’s changing place in society and the history of heroines is an excellent way to explore this. I am passionate about moving beyond individual, celebratory stories to instead explore themes for a dynamic modern archetype of a heroine across time and cultures. I like to imagine a time when all humans can be heroes without the feminine suffix.

Katie's book list on heroines in history

Katie Pickles Why did Katie love this book?

J M Taylor captures the successes and tragedies of Argentina’s ‘Santa Evita’. She unravels the myth-making that surrounded her eventful life.

Eva Peron’s public image and iconography are contrasted with complex class politics, religious observation, political coups, and sexism. Peron’s untimely death from cancer and the story of her corpse not being left to rest in peace is particularly jarring. I like how the book reveals that the history of heroines is complicated and that myth-making can hide important nuances.

By Julie Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eva Peron , one of the most powerful women in the world at the time of her death in 1952, rose from humble origins to international renown as First Lady of Argentina and the force behind her husband, Juan Peron. Despite her popularity she was inaccessible to the people of Argentina, and so images were constructed around her to fill that void. According to J.M. Taylor, these "myths" around Eva Peron reflect Argentine culture and political history at the time of her seven-year reign. With a brief biography of Eva Peron serving as a backdrop, this study offers an analysis…


Book cover of Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Christine Ieronimo Author Of A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World

From my list on stories from Africa with strong protagonists.

Who am I?

I am passionate about writing books for children that create windows to the world, teaching empathy. Children that are empathic grow up to be kind and compassionate adults. I write because I long for a world that is more accepting and compassionate.  

Christine's book list on stories from Africa with strong protagonists

Christine Ieronimo Why did Christine love this book?

Wangari is from Kenya and grew up among many trees. When she is older and returns home, she notices that the trees have all been cut down. She decides to replant her own trees which starts a movement with many to reforest the land. She has many obstacles to overcome but, in the end, prevails. This is a story that shows determination in the face of many challenges to make a difference. I, of course, love that it also introduces children to a very different and very beautiful part of the world. This is another story that can connect us all. Jeanette Winter’s text and beautiful illustrations complement each other perfectly. 

By Jeanette Winter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wangari's Trees of Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something - and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . .

This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman's passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.

Includes an…


Book cover of Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai

Mary Shaw Author Of Basil's Unkie Herb

From my list on I wish I could have read to my children.

Who am I?

I really am passionate about children and education. Reading to children is such a joy especially when they snuggle in and get absorbed in the story. Education is the only way to achieve some sort of equity in our world. The world I knew as a child is no more and that is a good thing. Cruel biases and intolerance hurt so many. Today there is more freedom and the potential to live true to yourself whatever that may be. I like books that show the diversity of our humanity, that can be read to children to broaden their understanding, acceptance, and tolerance of family which may be very different from their own.

Mary's book list on I wish I could have read to my children

Mary Shaw Why did Mary love this book?

I really like this book because it is a story about a strong woman, a science student, someone who studied at university. The message “if you are part of the problem, you can be part of the solution” and the message of education, and environmental responsibility resonates with me. The illustrations are gentle pastoral scenes and the fact that it was the women who saved Kenya from hunger and devastation makes this a must-read. My favourite scene is when Wangari is telling soldiers to have a gun in one hand and a seed in the other. The true story that just one person beginning with a small act of planting some seeds made a big difference is definitely worth a read.

Book cover of Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator

Neal Thompson Author Of Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991

From my list on America’s path through the Cold War.

Who am I?

I entered the United States Army in August 1970, two months after graduation from high school, completed flight school on November 1971, and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in Troop F (Air), 8th US Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. After my discharge, I served an additional 28 years as a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard, retiring in 2003. I graduated from Triton Junior College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University Law School in 1981. My passion for this subject arises, as one would expect, from my status as a veteran. My expertise is based on my own experience and 16 years of research and writing that went into the preparation of my book.

Neal's book list on America’s path through the Cold War

Neal Thompson Why did Neal love this book?

This is a balanced view of Senator McCarthy that, read in conjunction with Venona, Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, replaces the mendacity of historical orthodoxy with the truth, as columnist Nicholas Von Hoffman acknowledged in 1996: “Point by point Joe McCarthy got it all wrong, and yet he was still closer to the truth than those who ridiculed him.” The collapse of the Soviet Union opened both Soviet and American intelligence archives to Western scholars, if only briefly, and we now know that McCarthy’s charges were not, as we have been told for more than half a century, baseless, groundless, and irrational. Herman also reveals the dishonesty of Harry Truman and his enablers, who worked strenuously to obstruct investigations into Soviet espionage and poisoned political relations in this country.  

By Arthur Herman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Senator Joseph McCarthy is remembered as a self-serving and hypocritical man who recklessly destroyed people's lives through anticommunist witch hunting. This re-evaluation shows that the more that is learnt about communism in America, the more McCarthy is proven to be accurate in his charges.


Book cover of A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

Sondra London Author Of The Making of a Serial Killer

From my list on recent true crime books.

Who am I?

I am a  true-crime author. Most recently, I have released a pair of related books: The Making of a Serial Killer: 2d Ed, by Danny Rolling as told to myself; and Danny Rolling Serial Killer: Interviews. Before that, I published Good Little Soldiers: A Memoir of True Horror. Coauthored with Dianne Fitzpatrick, it relates her tale of murder & mind control under the US Army MK Ultra program. Earlier, I wrote True Vampires, an encyclopedic compendium of bloody crimes, and Knockin' on Joe: Voices from Death Row. I also collaborated with serial killer GJ Schaefer on Killer Fiction, a volume of psychopathic musings he wrote for me.

Sondra's book list on recent true crime books

Sondra London Why did Sondra love this book?

In A Lie Too Big to Fail, longtime Kennedy researcher (of both JFK and RFK) Lisa Pease lays out, in meticulous detail, how witnesses with evidence of conspiracy were silenced by the Los Angeles Police Department; how evidence was deliberately altered and, in some instances, destroyed; and how the justice system and the media failed to present the truth of the case to the public. Pease reveals how the trial was essentially a sham, and how the prosecution did not dare to follow where the evidence led.

A Lie Too Big to Fail asserts the idea that a government can never investigate itself in a crime of this magnitude. Was the convicted Sirhan Sirhan a willing participant? Or was he a mind-controlled assassin? It has fallen to independent researchers like Pease to lay out the evidence in a clear and concise manner, allowing readers to form their theories about…

By Lisa Pease,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lie Too Big to Fail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A Lie Too Big to Fail, longtime Kennedy researcher (of both JFK and RFK) Lisa Pease lays out, in meticulous detail, how witnesses with evidence of conspiracy were silenced by the Los Angeles Police Department; how evidence was deliberately altered and, in some instances, destroyed; and how the justice system and the media failed to present the truth of the case to the public. Pease reveals how the trial was essentially a sham, and how the prosecution did not dare to follow where the evidence led.
A Lie Too Big to Fail asserts the idea that a government can…


Book cover of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

John G. Matsusaka Author Of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge

From my list on understanding why American democracy is struggling.

Who am I?

I am an economist by training, who has researched and taught classes related to business, governance, and democracy for more than 30 years at the University of Southern California. My work is multidisciplinary, spanning economics, finance, law, and political science, with a grounding in empirical analysis. In addition to two books and numerous scholarly articles, I am a frequent op-ed contributor and media commentator on topics related to democracy. I also direct the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a nonpartisan education organization focused on direct democracy.

John's book list on understanding why American democracy is struggling

John G. Matsusaka Why did John love this book?

Although established in the late 1700s, the United States didn’t really become a recognizably modern democracy until the middle of the 1800s. This classic history book describes in detail how this happened in response to public pressures that were populist in nature. The story of this transformation over the 19th century reveals that populism is a recurring feature of American politics, and it has often led the country to improve its democratic practices. This is not an easy read, but offers significant rewards to the persistent reader.

By Sean Wilentz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acclaimed as the definitive study of the period by one of the greatest American historians, The Rise of American Democracy traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. Ferocious clashes among the Founders over the role of ordinary citizens in a government of "we, the people" were eventually resolved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson. Thereafter, Sean Wilentz shows, a fateful division arose between two starkly opposed democracies-a division contained until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. Winner of the Bancroft Award, shortlisted for the Pulitzer…


Book cover of Mr. Texas

Ellen Pall Author Of Must Read Well

From Ellen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Reader Bluegrass jammer Best friends with my dog

Ellen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Ellen Pall Why did Ellen love this book?

A big fat novel full of sly, rueful, knowing humor, great, unpredictable characters, and most surprising plot turns, Mr. Texas made me laugh (which I love), breathe fast, and stay up reading late into the night.

Long as it is, it sped by, and I missed it after I was done. It’s also rich with the deep knowledge Wright, a distinguished New Yorker writer and longtime Texas resident, has of the state: the ranchers, the legislators, the families, the hard land left behind after the oil wells it once supported have disappeared.

We root for the maverick protagonist and hold our breath when he risks defeat. In an epilogue, Wright describes the very long road this book had to publication. What luck that it finally got there.

By Lawrence Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author, a hilarious, sharply drawn send-up of local politics • A novel about a dark-horse candidate who risks his personal happiness for a career in the Texas House of Representatives • "Required reading in these politically turbulent times.”—Susan Orlean, author of On Animals

“A rollicking satire . . ."— Paul Begala, The New York Times Book Review

Sonny Lamb is an affable, if floundering, rancher with the unfortunate habit of becoming a punchline in his Texas hometown. Most recently, to everyone’s headshaking amusement, he bought his own bull at an auction. But when…


Book cover of A Spell of Good Things

Bekkah Frisch Author Of The Great Quiet

From my list on families from around the world.

Who am I?

Years ago in a psycholinguistics class, I discovered that a person’s primary language—not just their vocabulary but the structure of the language itself—shapes the way that person perceives the world and relationships around them. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with perspective and how perceptions of an event are shaped by who is experiencing them, what stage of life they’re in, the language they speak, and so on. As a full-time marketer in addition to an author, I have to consider every angle of a project before I can begin, whether I’m designing an ad or writing dialogue between characters.

Bekkah's book list on families from around the world

Bekkah Frisch Why did Bekkah love this book?

This novel, of two Nigerian families who are from incredibly different backgrounds and prospects, is in stark contrast to the previous book. It is rooted in the present, in the dual realities of life in modern-day Nigeria. 

I loved this novel for its twists of fate, the way storylines inevitably collide like two freight trains going in opposite directions on the same track, and just how deeply the cultural values surrounding marriage and family shine through—such as when a teenage girl counts the number of times in a week her family members mention marriage to her.

By Ayobami Adebayo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2023
MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2023: the Observer, Guardian, Financial Times, Stylist, the Express and Oprah Daily

Ayobami Adebayo, the Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Stay With Me, unveils a dazzling story of modern Nigeria and two families caught in the riptides of wealth, power, romantic obsession and political corruption.

Eniola is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. His father has lost his job, so Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers and begging, dreaming of a big future.

Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect…


Book cover of House of Cards

DC Alden Author Of The Angola Deception

From my list on coverups and conspiracies.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from an early age I was drawn to military, political, and science fiction thrillers because they explored a world of black operations, ruthless cabals, and clandestine government programmes. Later, I discovered that such a world exists, one where the military-industrial complex exerts enormous power and influence, a world of secretive global agendas, of dark actors controlling corrupt politicians, and cold-blooded military contractors, their allegiances no longer tied to any national flag but to mega-wealth cabals, offshore accounts, and vast pension funds. A world of shadows, where the light rarely shines, and the truth remains hidden. A truth often stranger than fiction.

DC's book list on coverups and conspiracies

DC Alden Why did DC love this book?

The book that triggered my deeper exploration into the world of political corruption, Dobb’s classic still stands shoulder to shoulder with HBO’s powerhouse TV reimagining of the source material, and ticks all the political thriller boxes—corruption, blackmail, and murderous intent at the highest levels of government. The masterfully crafted Francis Urquhart is one of the most intriguing fictional characters I’ve met, determined, manipulative, and utterly ruthless, and the twisty plot moves along at a cracking pace. Do people like Urquhart really exist? Undoubtedly, although the real versions are infinitely crueler and more corrupt. If you loved the TV show, as I did, the original book will not disappoint.  

By Michael Dobbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

REVISED AND UPDATED WITH BRAND NEW MATERIAL
The acclaimed political thriller that first introduced the unforgettable Francis Urquhart MP and launched Michael Dobbs' No 1 bestselling career - now updated with brand new material.

Michael Dobbs' entertaining tale of skulduggery and intrigue within the Palace of Westminster has been a huge hit with the public. Its scheming hero, Chief Whip Francis Urquhart, who uses fair means and foul to become Prime Minister, is one of the best-known characters of the last decade - the politician we all love to hate.

Acclaimed for its authenticity and insights into a secret world…