In the political world, it's easy to get wrapped up in social commentary from both sides of the aisle on television. However, our nation still depends heavily on political books, such as James Comey's recent A Higher Loyalty or Hillary Clinton's What Happened. It's with these kinds of books that we're able to get a more personal viewpoint of our government and society as a whole.
These political books offer the kind of social commentary that we should be teaching more in schools. Here we can forego any kind of third party bias or opinion that could distort the truth.
It's also true that political books can change our society. Even novels like George Orwell's 1984 offer a grim outlook on what the future could look like. And there are even elements from the book that are present today, like the government's spy programs and social networks' privacy controls. Great books like these are the ones that influence a generation and are some of the best political books ever written.
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
This classic piece by W.E.B. Du Bois is a sociological work concentrating on the experiences of African-Americans in American society. Du Bois writes several essays about race and ethnicity, often using excerpts from poems and songs. Using a concept of "double consciousness," Du Bois delves between both the black world of the south and the white world of the north. The Souls of Black Folk tackles the role of religion and how both races use it as a means of disliking each other. The importance of this book still rings true today, as it discusses racial and religion issues that still ravage our country.
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
As winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, All the King's Men is often considered one of the best political books of all time. This book is so relevant to today's society as comparisons of the fictional, cynical populist Willie Stark to Donald Trump are easy to make. While Stark and Tump may differ in personality, they both represent a central underlying theme of depravity. The novel tackles themes of nihilism and hubris that all intertwine with our current president. The fact that something written over 70 years ago is still relevant in today's society is astounding.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Often considered one of the greatest US Presidents of all time, Team of Rivals details the genius of Abraham Lincoln. This Pulitzer Prize winning book is mostly a biography about the president, but also shines a light on the people close to him as well. Author Doris Kearns Goodwin focuses primarily on Lincoln's decision making and how he chose his cabinet. President Barack Obama has cited Team of Rivals as an influence for picking his own cabinet. Goodwin highlights the fact that Lincoln was wise to work closest with people that were his biggest adversaries.
Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro
This look into President Lyndon Johnson's life is one of the best presidential biographies and one of the best political books of our time. Master of the Senate is the third book of the series about President Johnson. In this book, author Robert A. Caro focuses on Johnson's tenure as Senate majority leader and his work on civil rights in Congress. Winner of the Pulitzer Price in 2003, Master of the Senate is a very detailed perspective on Johnson's more formative years before becoming president.
The Butler by Wil Haygood
Later adapted into the all-star cast film of the same name, The Butler recounts the amazing story of a White House butler who witnesses some of American history's landmark moments, and it's one of the best movies about American politics. Author Wil Haygood recalls butler Eugene Allen's tremendous experiences through 30 years of different presidents. While Haygood focuses on Allen's viewpoints inside the Oval Office, The Butler does touch upon some of his interactions with former US presidents.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
This classic novel about a Christianity ruling government is still haunting today. With more religious radicals becoming more powerful in today's society, it's important to remember the sociological importance of The Handmaid's Tale, one of the best political books ever written. Author Margaret Atwood's take on misogyny and a woman's quest towards independence is clearly still relevant in today's society. This novel makes it easy to draw comparisons to how the #MeToo movement with living in a man's world, and women's struggles to overcome. The Handmaid's Tale asks some huge questions about society, and we need to be ready to answer them.
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson
This collection of articles about the 1972 presidential election written by "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson offers a unique perspective. First published in Rolling Stone and later as a book in 1973, Thompson's look inside the dissolution of the Democratic party is eerily similar to today's political nature. His criticisms of Richard Nixon and narratives on Democratic nominee George McGovern only enhance the same political fallout after Hillary Clinton lost the election. Written in his trademark, Gonzo, absurdist style, On the Campaign Trail '72 is a classic time piece.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
This is the absolutely seminal book regarding communism. Written by philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto details Marx and Engels' theories regarding society and politics. This book is one of the most influential and possibly, most dangerous, best political books ever written. Their theory regarding how capitalism will someday become a form of socialism is happening before us. We've already seen presidents like Barack Obama instill forms of socialism into the country, and with a growing need to reform political parties, it seems like a possible reality.
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
This book is a collection of essays and articles written about the Constitution by founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The overall goal of this collection was to promote the ratification of the Constitution, published across various New York newspapers. This is an essential commentary on politics, while focusing on the foundations of our country. The Federalist Papers offers a glimpse into how our country works in regards to laws and government. It also counts as one of the best books written by US presidents, even if it's more of a collection than a book.
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
This classic, written by Scottish economist Adam Smith, details the early workings of economic growth. Published in 1776, Smith's work is offers some of the most fundamental theories in economics that are still used today. In The Wealth of the Nations, Smith reflects on the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, divisions of labor, and free markets. Even some of Smith's theories regarding supply and demand are still relevant in today's economic society. All of the best political books seem to have something in common. It's their ability to still connect and offer us advice, even decades later.