59 revealing nonfiction books about politics

nonfiction books about politics: Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie ParnesI was seven years old when I first became aware of politics. It was 1948, and the presidential race between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey was underway. With all the wisdom of a seven-year-old, I picked the obvious winner, Dewey. We all know how that worked out. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get actively involved politics until I was in high school, when I actually did manage to pick a winner, John F. Kennedy. (I was the only member of my government class who did. It was a very Republican town.) I couldn’t vote for Kennedy, of course—the 18-year-old vote wasn’t permitted until 1971—but I got a taste for the process. And from the time in college when I served as president of the Young Democrats, I’ve been engaged to one degree or another ever since.

All of which goes to explain why I seek out books about politics. Fiction, nonfiction—it doesn’t matter. If it’s credible and at least reasonably well written, I’m game. So, ever since I launched this blog eight years ago, I’ve read and reviewed a fair number of books about the topic. Here, I’m listing only the 59 nonfiction books that have appeared in this space, beginning with my top 10. All these titles appear in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names within each of the two groups of books. Each is linked to its review on this blog. I hope it’s obvious that this is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive reading list. I’ve only included recent books I’ve read from beginning to end and reviewed here.

If you read widely about current affairs, you’re likely to come across a number of titles that are familiar to you. Included are such familiar authors as Michelle Alexander, Robert Caro, Noam Chomsky, Adam Hochschild, Van Jones, and Robert B. Reich. But you’ll also encounter many works that never surfaced on bestseller lists or attracted the attention of mainstream reviewers. I hold the peculiar opinion that a book can hold important truths even if few people read it.

My top 10 nonfiction books about politics

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace, by Peter Janney

It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America, by David Cay Johnston

The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire, by Stephen Kinzer

The Self-Made Myth, and the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed, by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham

Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged, by Katherine S. Newman and Rourke L. O’Brien

Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin

Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, by Seth Rosenfeld

The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country, by Gabriel Sherman

49 other nonfiction books about politics

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, by Kurt Andersen

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, by Joe Bageant

Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin III

Republican Gomorra: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, by Max Blumenthal

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, by James Bradley

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia, by James Bradley

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, by Robert A. Caro

Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, by Noam Chomsky

Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It, by Jeffrey D. Clements

99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It, by Chuck Collins

When Money Talks: The High Price of “Free” Speech and the Selling of Democracy, by Derek Cressman

Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, by Robert H. Frank

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank

Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic, by David Frum

National Security and Double Government, by Michael J. Glennon

Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, by Joshua Green

Double Down: Game Change 2012, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, by Luke Harding

Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by Luke Harding

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, by Adam Hochschild

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Rebuild the Dream, by Van Jones

Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together, by Van Jones

The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, by John Judis

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World Warby Stephen Kinzer

Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth, by Howard Kurtz

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—plus plenty of valet parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital, by Mark Leibovich

One Nation Under Gods: A New American History, by Peter Manseau

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer

Trailblazer: A Biography of Jerry Brown, by Chuck McFadden

A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent, by Robert W. Merry

A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies, and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment, by John Preston

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II, by Richard Reeves

Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, by Robert B. Reich

Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party, by Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost

Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, by David E. Sanger

The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America, by Robert Scheer

Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angelesby Les Standiford

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T. J. Stiles

Game Changers: Twelve Elections That Transformed California, by Steve Swatt, Susie Swatt, Jeff Raimundo, Rebecca LaVally

Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, by Zephyr Teachout

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, by Larry Tye

This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement, edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of Yes! Magazine

A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren

One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, by Tim Weiner

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, by Jay Winik 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff

Obama’s Wars, by Bob Woodward


Mal Warwick