Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Respite for a political junkie (well, sort of...)

Nevada three days ago.  Minnesota and Colorado (and sort-of-but-not-really Missouri) tonight.  The campaign season is hopping and, dear readers, I must confess that I am a political junkie who's ready for a break.  As much as I love the political process, I sometimes think that if watching the legislative process is like watching sausage being made, then the campaign process is akin to watching that horrid video of chicken nuggets being made (Warning: if you've escaped that video so far, do NOT search it out.  You won't want to eat for days).  So, what's a girl to do?  Say it with me now: "Turn to fiction!" 

There are a host of political books to turn to, whether you want romance, thriller, or behind-the-scenes realism.  I'm not talking about books that have political messages or ramifications like 1984 or The Jungle -- I'm talking about books that are actually about politicians or government agents, and their lives.  I find it fun to get my fix of politics without having to think about the actual repercussions of it.  As with the best fiction of any genre, though, it can also be a great way to get a new perspective on an old situation and can inform my thinking about real situations -- just in a slightly more escapist way.  If you, too want some great political fiction, check out some of these:

  If you're looking for a political thriller, try Vince Flynn or David Baldacci.  Both write fast-paced, plot-driven, cinematic books involving political intrigue.  Try Baldacci's first novel, Absolute Power, about a president involved in a murder investigation, or Transfer of Power, the first in Flynn's series about the CIA's top counterterrorism specialist.
For a look at the lives of those inside the White House, try Nicolle Wallace's Eighteen Acres or Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife.  Both provide a perspective on what it would be like to be married to the president.  Eighteen Acres focuses on the first woman president and her husband, while American Life is widely considered to be a fictional take on Laura Bush.

If you're looking for tales of campaigns or ascension into government power, check out All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren's examination of corruption in Louisiana politics, or Joe Klein's Primary Colors.

What are your favorite fictional takes on politics?

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