books on politics

As America is gearing up for elections, everyone seems to be going crazy trying to predict who will win.

Some already know who to vote for, while others are still debating.

But how many of us really understand the complexities of running the government and politics?

Which policies have worked and which haven’t?

These are not easy questions,

but books can help us find answers to them.

To get deeply acquainted with politics, pick up any or all of the books on this list.

1. The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society, by Binyamin Appelbaum


The New York Times financial writer maps the advance of economists—from the Kennedy administration onward—out of the academy and into government,

elevating free markets in the sausage-making of public policy and sparking the inequity that plagues us today. 

2. Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, by Joe Biden


Public defender, Senator, Vice President, Presidential contender.

Throughout his lengthy and storied career Joe Biden has circled back to his cherished touchstone: father.

After a terminal cancer diagnosis, his eldest son Beau asked his dad to promise him he’d be okay, as Beau’s health declined, Biden performed his elected duties

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3. United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good, by Cory Booker


The junior Senator from New Jersey hitched a ride on a meteor to success.

His prescription for our ailing nation is sharp and rich, a blueprint for coming together from a politician destined to play an indelible role on the American stage.

4. Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future, by Pete Buttigieg


Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has uneasily embodied some of the most enduring tensions in our culture: a Harvard grad and urban businessman lured back to run for mayor of his Rust Belt town;

a closeted Iraq War veteran; the first openly gay candidate for President; and now, most shockingly, a coolly measured voice amid the din of Twitter grievance.

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5. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. KendI


The author of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning returns with a compelling compendium of facts and figures, searing stories of tragedy and triumph as he defines what it truly means to be an anti-racist in our divisive age. 

How To Be An Antiracist is the antidote for the toxicity of white supremacy—and a rebuke to calls for segregation.

6. No Stopping Us Now: A History of Older Women in America, by Gail Collins


While young men have fallen by the hundreds of thousands in military combat,

America’s women have waged wars of their own on the home front, forcing change.

This New York Times columnist traces the enthralling arc of older women in political history, from feminist pioneers to First Ladies feisty agitators to intrepid influencers (Nellie Bly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg); Republicans of integrity (Margaret Chase Smith) and legendary Democrats (Hillary Clinton). They’re all here, brought to radiant life in Gail Collins’ witty, vivid prose.

7. We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, by Jonathan Safran Foer


Alarmed by the spike in perilous climate change, the acclaimed writer tackles what we can do here and now, ordinary tweaks with global impact,

his book a mesh of bulleted lists blended with polished literary forms—read this if you’re looking for The Overstory meets 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.

8. West Wingers, by Gautam Raghavan


From a Latina immigration expert to a dessert chef enlisted as “spokesperson” for healthy eating, 18 former Obama administration staffers share their candid, affecting accounts of life at the White House.

9. The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite, by Daniel Markovits


A product of public schools and the Ivy League, a Yale Law professor exposes the lies beneath aspirational meritocracy, damning it with data and anecdotes.

In Markovits’s telling, the American Dream is a locked steel door that bars the middle-class from achievement and imprisons the children of elites in cells of excruciating expectations.

10. Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America, by James Poniewozik


Now comes the New York Times’ television critic with a similarly masterful study that probes how television networks built up a vulgar xenophobe to boost ratings,

a meditation on “a man who, through a four-decades-long TV performance, achieved symbiosis with the medium.

11. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, by Kamala Harris


In her second book, California Senator Kamala Harris incorporates tales from her upbringing and how her mother motivated her to explain why she feels responsible for serving Americans in office. With its release,

Harris is being touted as a potential 2020 White House contender,

especially after saying she believes the U.S. is ready for a woman of color to be president.  

12. The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton


Pitted against an often antagonistic media, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have made difficult choices, for themselves and for others, with grace and fortitude.

Here they share a hundred profiles of the women who have inspired them through tough moments: resilient figures from the past — Harriet Tubman, “the Moses of her people,” and  Rachel Carson, the environmental Cassandra — and the present, such as charismatic activist Malala Yousafzai and the virtuoso novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Aidichie. These captivating stories point the way toward a kinder future for us all.

13. This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class, by Elizabeth Warren


She’s been called the “long-distance runner” of the 2020 election. The indomitable Massachusetts Senator has emerged as the wonk’s dream date, the go-to candidate for hot takes on trade, healthcare, social justice, and her signature issue of economic inequality.