Brookings Press Election Reading List

Carrie Engel
Carrie Engel Media Relations Manager - Office of Communications

August 25, 2015

The 2016 Presidential Election is in full swing, and candidates are campaigning, fundraising, debating and speaking across the country. For the next year, the Brookings Institution Press will be highlighting new books each season as part of our Election Reading List. Enjoy the books below, and check back to see what you can learn next about the issues most important to candidates and voters throughout the election season.

Why President's FailWhy Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again

Why Presidents Fail

By Elaine Kamarck

Elaine C. Kamarck argues that presidents today spend too much time talking and not enough time governing, and that they have allowed themselves to become more and more distant from the federal bureaucracy that is supposed to implement policy. In “Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again,” she surveys recent presidential failures to understand why Americans have lost faith in their leaders—and how they can get it back.

Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America’s Lost Commitment to to Competence

Escaping Jurassic Government

By Donald F. Kettl

Ask Americans today and they will tell you that our government has hit a wall of low performance and high distrust, with huge implications for governance in the country. “Escaping Jurassic Government” details the strategies, evidence, and people that can strengthen governmental effectiveness and shut down gridlock.

Political Negotiation: A Handbook

Political NegotiationBy Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin

Today, politics in America is dominated by intense party polarization and limited agreement among legislative representatives on policy problems and solutions. “Political Negotiation” offers practical advice for understanding the problems faced by both parties and how to overcome the stifling polarization.


The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette

Campaign EtiquetteBy Stephen Hess

This shrewd and amusing book provides a political etiquette for campaign behavior on the part of both politicians and journalists. Written for the 2000 Election, the focus was on everything from advertising and cyberpolitics to sex scandals, and talk radio. While some things have changed drastically in the last 16 years, many rules of campaign etiquette still should be followed today.

Spring 2016 dividerGet Out the Vote: How to Increase Vote Turnout, Expanded and Updated Third Edition

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By Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber

“Get Out the Vote” has become the reference text for those who manage campaigns and study voter mobilization. In this expanded and updated edition, Green and Gerber incorporate data from more than 100 new studies, which shed new light on the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of various campaign tactics, including door-to-door canvassing, email, direct mail, and telephone calls.

Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America

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By William H. Frey

Through a compelling narrative and eye-catching charts and maps, William H. Frey interprets and expounds on the dramatic growth of minority populations in the United States. This new generation of young minorities is infusing our aging labor force with vitality and innovation. They are poised to exert a profound impact on U.S. society, economy, and politics.

Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy

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By Ron Haskins

“Show Me the Evidence” tells the story of how the Obama administration planned and enacted several initiatives to fund social programs based on rigorous evidence of success. This fascinating book provides a blueprint for policymakers worldwide who are interested in expanding the use of evidence in policy.

Winter 2015 dividerPrimary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates

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By Elaine Kamarck

Drawing from decades of meticulous research, interviews with key figures in both parties, and years of experience both within and just outside the process, “Primary Politics” is the primer on the primaries. It explains the fascinating history of the nominating process and answers important questions about our modern system: How it works, who works it, and why it will never go away.

America’s Political Dynasties: From Adams to Clinton

America's Political Dynasties

By Stephen Hess

In “America’s Political Dynasties,” longtime presidential historian Stephen Hess offers an encyclopedic tour of the families that have loomed large over America’s political history. With a look toward the future, he tells stories of the Bushes and what looks to be a political dynasty in waiting, the Clintons.

Presidential Pork: White House Influence over the Distribution of Federal Grants

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By John Hudak

In “Presidential Pork,” John Hudak reconceptualizes the way in which we view the U.S. presidency and the goals and behaviors of those who hold the nation’s highest office, revealing not only what White Houses have done in distributing presidential pork, but also how they go about it.Fall 2015 dividerBillionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust

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By Darrell M. West

“Can rich dudes buy an election?” asks author Darrell M. West. In “Billionaires,” he analyzes the growing political activism of billionaires and how they have created more activist forms of politics and philanthropy based on their net worth.

Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension between Rivalry and Restraint

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By Bruce Jones

Is the U.S.A. losing its “superpower” status? In “Still Ours to Lead,” Bruce Jones tells a nuanced story of American leadership, examining the impulse to rival the United States and how America will have to adapt its leadership to new realities.

The Professor and the President: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House

Comments 179Professor and the President coverBy Stephen Hess

What happens when a conservative president makes a liberal professor from the Ivy League his top urban affairs adviser? The president is Richard Nixon, the professor is Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Stephen Hess, the only person to be friends with each man before they ever met, tells the story of the oddest odd couple in American public life.