35 excellent nonfiction books about politics

politics - Dark Money - Jane MayerI 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 six years ago, I’ve read and reviewed a fair number of books about the topic. Here, I’m listing only the 35 nonfiction books that have appeared in this space. These titles, and the underlying links to my reviews, appear roughly in reverse chronological order based on the dates of the reviews’ publication. 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.

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

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

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

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

National Security and Double Government, by Michael J. Glennon

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

Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War, by Joe Bageant

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

A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebuild the Dream, by Van Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama’s Wars, by Bob Woodward


Mal Warwick