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There is no shortage of great books on the race for the White House and the state of the US presidency and politics in general. But here is a selection of some of the best books recommended by FT specialists on the history and global consequences of the US elections.

This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future
by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns
Two hardened political reporters dissect the 2020 presidential campaign and the subsequent January 6 2021 assault on the Capitol. Diligently researched and often illuminating, the book is an arresting chronicle of America’s recent political degeneration, which the authors put down largely to absence of character. A good primer for 2024.

American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump
by Tim Alberta
A defining account of how the staid old Republican party shifted inexorably to the right, first during the Tea party years in reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency, and then with the arrival of Donald Trump. Crucial reading as Trump’s spectre looms again over US politics and as the former president finally completes his semi-hostile takeover of the party, shredding its Reaganite legacy in favour of his nativist, isolationist MAGA populism.

Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes
by John B Judis and Ruy Teixeira
A rigorous dissection of how and why the once formidable Democratic coalition — forged almost a century ago in the New Deal era — has fallen apart. The authors pick up on themes explored in their earlier book The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002), which argued that a broad and growing coalition of younger people, urban professionals, minorities and single, working women depended on the party keeping hold of its white working-class base. That hasn’t happened. Now, in a deft blend of the big picture and micro reporting, Judis and Teixeira explore the options for rebuilding the Democrats as a party for working people.

Joe Biden: American Dreamer
by Evan Osnos
Highly readable and insightful biography of the ageing president now facing the biggest political battle of his almost six-decade political career. Osnos, who has covered politics for years for the New Yorker, illuminates how one consistent feature of Biden’s career has been the fact that he has been underestimated by pundits and opponents alike — and has then gone on to prove them wrong. Four years ago that saw him secure the Democratic nomination and then the presidency.

What It Takes: The Way to the White House
by Richard Ben Cramer
Widely regarded as setting the new gold standard in presidential campaign books when it was published, Cramer’s opus on the 1988 race is still cited for its account of Joe Biden’s first White House run. Not only does it revisit the stumbles and gaffes that ultimately forced Biden out of the contest, but it provides important insights into Biden’s political psyche — particularly the combustible mix of supreme confidence and class-infused insecurity that has driven him since he first ran for the Senate in 1972.

Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America
by Maggie Haberman
During the Trump presidency, Haberman of the New York Times established herself as the leading Trump-watcher — managing to report unsparingly on the president, while maintaining a relationship with him. Here, she delivered the definitive biography of Trump and his improbable rise from real estate mogul and television personality to president. Her deep understanding of the New York of the 1970s and 1980s helps to explain what makes Trump tick.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man
by Mary L Trump
Unflinching account of life on the inside of the Trump family by the former president’s niece. A tale of parental neglect, routine bullying, and self-indulgent megalomania, the memoir, which the FT reviewer described as “a modern-day Bleak House”, is regarded by many as the best psychological portrait (the author is a clinical psychologist) of Trump the man.

The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter
Written in the 1960s, and in part an analysis of the Senator Joseph McCarthy “red-baiting” derangement, this book by the Columbia University historian excavates the deep archaeology of rabid irrationalism in American politics stretching back into the 19th century. Absolutely current as we head into the election.

The Emerging Republican Majority
by Kevin P Philipps
This 1969 masterpiece explains Nixon’s “Southern strategy”, which used race, cultural issues and demographic shifts to destroy the Democratic majority in the South. Still an essential primer for political currents today.

All the King’s Men
by Robert Penn Warren
Everything you need to know about demagoguery America-style via the thinly disguised portrait of Huey Long of Louisiana. Published in 1946, Warren’s tale of a 1930s idealistic lawyer turned cynical politician — Willie “Boss” Stark — from the Deep South went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, inspire two films and is seen by some as the definitive novel on American politics.

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