Now that we’ve shared what we learned from Stephanie Grisham’s Trump tell-all, we want to hear about your reading lists.
Which politics or government book do you find most compelling? It doesn’t have to focus on Arizona, but bonus points if it does.
We created this open thread so you can add your book recommendations for all our subscribers to see — just click the button below. If people get into it, we’ll use this feature for other fun discussions in the future
Maybe we’ll even start a little Zoom book club about other Arizona politics books. Use the thread to let us know if you’re interested!
Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall
By Donald Carson and James Johnson
Isn't Scorpions for Breakfast an obvious choice?
It's been a while since I read it but everyone should read I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening).
Samantha Power: “The Education of an Idealist” Former US Ambassador to the UN. Wonderful, couldn’t put it down. The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062820702/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_1JSVRGXBKQZYQ3GPSDRG
Driving While Brown by Terry Greene Sterling and Jude Joffe Block
You can get it (and probably all of these) at changinghands.org
Also: A Safeway in Arizona by Tom Zoellner
Two books I would always recommend to young people who asked about going into government service are:
Matt Latimer's "Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor" is one (and does have Arizona ties because he was Senator Kyl's speechwriter.)
Barton Swaim's "The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics" is also a great read about his time with Gov. Mark Sanford.
Both are funny, 100% true, and based on what it is really like, and spoiler, sometimes you're gonna have a bad boss while you're climbing up the ladder trying to change the world.
Adding one of mine that intersects with Arizona politics: John Carreyrou's "Bad Blood," both a business and a government book, is an excellent lesson in how you can sell a totally false bill of goods but get a lot of people (including Arizona lawmakers) to go along with it. It's a super compelling read that you really can't put down.
"Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" does an incredible job detailing the unique political actors, cultural environment, and coalitions that led to the passage of two competing constitutional amendments in 13 years. Still relevant for politicos today -- and booze politics is fun.
If you really want to know Arizona Politics, read What's In It For Me, about AZScam .
It’s in the stack, but Plunkitt of Tammany Hall has some unforgettable lines. That man had a gift for grift.
Inside Congress: A Guide for Navigating the Politics of the House and Senate Floors.
I'd be all in for a politics book club. I highly recommend Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean. Connected a lot of dots for me since my work is around fighting privatization of education.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors is an incredible chronicle of the Mecham administration and impeachment. The Arizona Project, written by the investigative reporters who descended on Arizona after the Bolles bombing, is also a must-read. More recently, Driving While Brown was fantastic. And this is a little off the beaten path, but if you like Hunter Thompson's style, several parts of Generation of Swine take place in Phoenix, and includes his musings on the then-contemporary troubles of Evan Mecham.
Also, I heard If This Be Treason is awesome 😉
A few I like:
- Capitol and Ideology (Thomas Piketty): Pretty dense, but makes the argument that inequality in our society is not because it is economically necessary, but because our ideology chooses to allow it.
- The Education of an Idealist (Samantha Power): The powerful memoirs of Obama's UN Ambassador
- A Promised Land (Barack Obama): Obama's narrative style makes this a fun read
- The Man Who Knew (Sebastian Mallaby): Biography of Alan Greenspan
- The Decline and Rise of Democracy (David Stasavage): A history of democracy from ancient society to today
- All the Shah's Men (Stephen Kinzer): The story behind the 1953 US-backed Iran coup
- Why Nations Fail (Daron Acemoglu): How political systems enable the success or failure of countries
High Crimes and Misdemeanors by Ronald J. Watkins
The Term and Trials of Former Governor Evan Mecham
It’s the first time I heard the phrase ‘ethical pygmy’ used to describe a politician.
The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse
All the President's Men by those guys
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter S. Thompson
Lincoln by Gore Vidal (you didn't say it had to be non-fiction)
Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. Fantasyland and Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen.
One of my favorite books is The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. About presidential transitions and what each major department in the federal government does and includes. Easy read. Eye opening. Commander in Cheat by Rick Reilly is hilarious and insightful. So many books, so little time!
Robert Caro's books on LBJ and Robert Moses (The Power Broker) are my favorite books of any genre. The depth and detail captured in his work is unparalleled in my opinion. Not only are the biographies amazing but the story behind the journey the author took to get them is another adventure in itself. If you've got a year or so to dedicate to finish a book or two, they are worth the time.
The Founding Myth (Seidel) and Jesus and John Wayne (Du Mez). I think White Christian Nationalism is one of the biggest threats we face right now.
I also vote for The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis.
Cicero's On Duties or De Officiis.
The Roman Republic is about to collapse and Cicero writes his last work to his son Marcus urging him to pursue a public life versus a military one. He discusses the four cardinal virtues in depth, and is the first (to my knowledge) to discuss Just War theory along with Natural Law. Cicero could've taken the easy way out and joined the Triumvirate and lengthened his life but he loved the Republic too much to do so, was exiled, and ultimately assassinated. Cicero transformed the Latin language to which Caesar is reported to have said of Cicero that “it is more important to have greatly extended the frontiers of the Roman spirit than the frontiers of the Roman empire.”
Well, I mean not to be *that* guy, by Histories by Polybius -- particularly book six where he details anacyclosis.
1) George Hunt: Arizona's Crusading Seven-Term Governor
The book does a really good job of not just covering Governor Hunt's life, but the overall political landscape at the time of the Arizona's founding.
2) The Arizona State Constitution (Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States)
It is pretty expensive, but it is the single best book to understand the Arizona Constitution. It was incredibly helpful when I was in law school. At this point it could use some updating since the second edition's release, but it gives a great section by section breakdown of the Arizona Constitution and reviews relevant cases interpreting each.