Friday, May 9, 2008

Top Five Election Books
(note: this list was not compiled democratically)

5. What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer
Review excerpt, care of Brothers Judd: If this were a novel, there would be no doubt in my mind that it was the Great American Novel. But, amazingly enough, it's all true. These men really exist and they really did all put themselves through the grueling process of running for president. We want our presidential candidates to be heroic figures, but then we put them though an oftentimes degrading process that supposedly determines whether they are fit to lead. Before you judge either George W. or Al Gore too harshly, read this book and find out what it takes to run for president.

4. Oh, Waiter! One Order of Crow! Inside the Strangest Presidential Election Finish in American History by Jeff Greenfield
Review excerpt, care of CNN senior political analyst Jeff Greenfield tells how CNN and the other news organizations mistakenly called the winner of the presidential race not once, but twice. He provides a feel for the off-camera drama of covering this historic election, showing both the show business side of television news, as well as the backstage nitty-gritty of anchors and analysts cramming their heads, or notecards, full of interesting facts and figures to fill the airtime. Greenfield makes no effort to justify the goofs, rather he reveals how they so easily happened.

3. Miami and the Siege of Chicago by Norman Mailer
Review excerpt, care of NYBooks: In lesser hands, New Journalism could also be a recipe for self-indulgence, solipsism, and mischievous fictionalization, but that is not the case with Miami and the Siege of Chicago. Mailer's book holds up better than most political journalism written last week, let alone four decades ago. Indeed it survives better than it has any right to—as history, as literature, and as a portrait of America both then and now. As a narrative of the summer's actual political events it is both compactly comprehensive and dead-on, often hilariously so.

2. Election by Tom Perrotta
Review excerpt, care of belladena: On the surface, Election seems just another tribute to Generation-X, broken families, and the classically icky tale of the over-achiever you knew in high school. However, what unfolds in this slim volume is a seamless story about a classless anti-heroine. Amidst some very sharp diction, biting humour, and poetic observations...The ultimate impact of Election is an exacting political satire and complex human portrait that is not without its jabs at the American Dream and the inherently doomed and damnable American Dreamer.

1. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson
Review excerpt, care of NYTimes: Thompson writes on two levels. On one, he is the journalist observing the candidates in action from any accessible perspective. His comments in this regard are revealing both about the problems of campaign coverage and the differences among the candidates...On another level, Thompson is defiantly subjective. Unlike his more conventional colleagues, he feels free to denounce hypocritical political maneuvering when he spots it.

Don't agree? We welcome your violent dissent in our comments section.