Darren Richardson

Aug. 25, 2012

With the Republican and Democratic conventions just around the corner, political junkies are about to get their fill of, ahem, political junk. Being somewhat of a political junkie myself, I say that without mordancy or malice.

But what to do when the convention coverage ends for the day and all you can find are endless loops of the same footage on cable channels you didn’t even know you had? That’s easy: Read a book.

The Punditty Project offers up these five political book recommendations for those who still appreciate turning pages as well as clicking links when it comes to reading. With about 10 weeks left until Election Day, you may even have time to read one or two of them.

Happy page-turning.

  1. The Making of the President 1960: Author T.H. White influenced the political conversation in America like few writers before or since with this 1961 masterwork detailing the drama of Sen. John F. Kennedy’s battle with his primary foes and eventual razor-thin victory over Richard Nixon. White’s prose is fashioned in a style reminiscent of a suspense novel . It remained on the best-seller list for more than 40 weeks and won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1962.
  2. “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72”: Arguably Hunter S. Thompson’s best work, this book is not suitable for timid adults or children under 12. It may not be suitable for children of any age. Thompson details the strange, twisted saga of the 1972 presidential campaign with his characteristic high-energy articulate madness. From Ed Muskie’s fabricated ibogaine addiction to a one-on-one conversation with Richard Nixon about professional football, Thompson takes the readers on a savage journey into the heart of darkness that is American politics.
  3. The Boys on the Bus: The 1972 campaign produced not just one but two political classics. In his 1973 account of how the George McGovern and Nixon campaigns interacted with and tried to manipulate the press corps during the race to Election Day, author Timothy Crouse provides readers with what the Washington Post called “the definitive story.”
  4. What It Takes: The Way to the White House: Longtime Punditty readers are aware of his fascination with Michael S. Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee whose loss to George H. W. Bush changed America and the world forever. In this 1993 book, author Richard Ben Cramer gives readers what the San Francisco Chronicle called “ultimate insider's book on presidential politics.” The only thing bad about this book is that the wrong candidate wins.
  5. Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics: Originally published by “Anonymous, “ this 1996 roman à clef retells the story of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign with a character named Jack Stanton serving as a fictional stand-in for Clinton. The author of the book was later revealed to be former Newsweek reporter Joe Klein, who had denied writing the book until a handwriting analysis by the Washington Post in the summer of 1996 led him to admit authorship.

With thousands of other political books on the market, it is impossible to include all the great reading options in this report. But you can always leave your suggestions in the comment section below or, better yet, sign up and start writing in Allvoices’ The American Pundit political writing contest for chance to win the $5,000 Grand Prize, to be awarded this fall after the Nov. 6 election. Who knows? It could be your first step to writing a great political masterpiece.

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.