Anyone who watches even the smallest segments of cable news television knows that 2014 is a high-stakes election year. Also making the fact plain is the recent rash of books on current, past, and future presidential candidates. Below are five titles that together feed the need for dishy, pointed, and studied takes on all aspects of the U.S. political fray.
- HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Crown).
Political reporters Allen (White House Bureau Chief for POLITICO) and Parnes (The Hill) plumb the career of First Lady, Senator, presidential candidate, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Due out in mid-February, their account is reported to be full of insider details, interviews, and you-are-in-the-room accounts. Until Clinton announces—one way or the other—if she will run for president, there will be no escaping the gravity of her personality—but she will have her own say in an expected blockbuster memoir forthcoming this summer.
- Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker (Doubleday).
Past is prolog as the lingering ramifications of 9/11 illustrate in everything from Edward Snowden to the slow withdrawal from Afghanistan. In one of the most evenhanded and recent accounts of the George W. Bush administration, Baker retraces much of what the country is currently still struggling to overcome—from the collapse of the economy to the hubris of presidential power.
- Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates (Knopf).
If one listens to the many commentators buzzing over the prerelease tidbits, Gates’s mix of anger and insider commendation is most notable for coming out during a sitting president’s term. Regardless of the timing, his take on the wars, elected leaders, and insights based on a long career in military and clandestine service is likely to frame the debate for weeks to come.
- Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (Penguin). The team behind one of the best books on the 2008 election returns with one of the best on President Obama’s reelection. It is detailed and lovely in all the best ways as it vividly illustrates the strategy and mistakes of both campaigns. With insider gossip and a highly narrative approach, Halperin and Heilemann offer a readable and accessible account of ego, power, and strategy.
- This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital by Mark Leibovich (Blue Rider).
This gossipy indictment of the Washington political and news media complex takes on everyone from the president to talking heads to journalists—painting a riotously dissolute picture of those who lead the country and report on them.