Reading List: United States Politics

Article excerpt

Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, by James Mann, (Viking 2004). Now a little out of date, the Bush administration being long gone, this is nevertheless a wonderful background on how President George W. Bush's foreign policy team came together, the personalities and their relationships with one another. Far more about the people than the policy.

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, by Anonymous, (Random House, 1996). Written, in fact, by Joe Klein, a political journalist in 1996, this is a thinly veiled novel that is really about the 1992 democratic presidential primary and, in particular, Bill Clinton's campaign. It's an amusing description of the politics of primary battles in a time when things were less vicious than they are today.

It's Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, (Basic Civitas, 2012). This has energized the debate in Washington today with two Democratic policy wonks coming together to explain why the American political system is so dysfunctional. In their view, the Republican Party has veered sharp right, leaving a huge unfilled expanse between them and the traditional Republicans or Democrats and, as a result, moving the whole debate rightward. Extremism is breaking the US system.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Do not let the 900 dense pages put you off. This is an incredible history of how Abraham Lincoln came from obscurity to win the 1860 Republican National Convention, and then the presidency, finally bringing into his cabinet three of his rivals from the primary process. …