Here are a few timely new reads for this election year:
Selecting a President by Eleanor Clift & Matthew Spieler
"Selecting a President explains the nuts and bolts of our presidential electoral system while drawing on rich historical anecdotes from past campaigns. Among the world's many democracies, U.S. presidential elections are unique, where presidential contenders embark on a grueling, spectacular two-year journey that begins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and ends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Modern presidential campaigns are a marked departure from the process envisioned by America's founders. Yet while they've evolved, many of the basic structures of our original electoral system remain in place--even as presidential elections have moved into the modern era with tools like Twitter and Facebook at their disposal--they must still compete in an election governed by rules and mechanisms conceived in the late eighteenth century. In this book, Clift and Spieler demonstrate that presidential campaigns are exciting, hugely important, disillusioning at times but also inspiring."-- Provided by publisher.
Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians by Robert W. Merry
"Merry examines how and why presidents succeed and fail by recounting the judgments of historians and comparing them to how the voters saw things." -- Provided by publisher.
Almost President: The Men who Lost the Race But Changed the Nation by Scott Farris
"Profiles 12 men who have run for the presidency and lost, but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president." -- Provided by publisher.
The Candidate: What it Takes to Win, and Hold, the White House by Samuel L. Popkin
"Based on detailed analyses of the winners--and losers--of the last 60 years of presidential campaigns, Popkin explains how challengers get to the White House, how incumbents stay there for a second term, and how successors hold power for their party. He looks in particular at three campaigns--George H.W. Bush's muddled campaign for reelection in 1992, Al Gore's flawed campaign for the presidency in 2000, and Hillary Clinton's mismanaged effort to win the nomination in 2008--and uncovers the lessons that Ronald Reagan can teach future candidates about teamwork. Throughout, Popkin illuminates the intricacies of presidential campaigns--the small details and the big picture, the surprising mistakes and the predictable miscues--in a riveting account of what goes on inside a campaign and what makes one succeed while another fails." - Amazon.com
The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
"Examines presidential power within the context of U.S. history and the ongoing relationships presidents and ex- presidents formed with one another." - Provided by publisher
These last ones are a bit older, but might still be on target today:
1920: The Year of the Six Presidents by David Pietrusza
"The presidential election of 1920 was among history’s most dramatic. Six once-and-future presidents-Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt-jockeyed for the White House. With voters choosing between Wilson’s League of Nations and Harding’s front-porch isolationism, the 1920 election shaped modern America. Women won the vote. Republicans outspent Democrats by 4 to 1, as voters witnessed the first extensive newsreel coverage, modern campaign advertising, and results broadcast on radio. America had become an urban nation: Automobiles, mass production, chain stores, and easy credit transformed the economy. 1920 paints a vivid portrait of America, beset by the Red Scare, jailed dissidents, Prohibition, smoke-filled rooms, bomb-throwing terrorists, and the Klan, gingerly crossing modernity’s threshold." - Amazon.com
Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme by Calvin Trillin
"Deciding the Next Decider is an ongoing campaign narrative in verse interrupted regularly by other poems, such as a country tune about John Edwards called “Yes, I Know He’s a Mill Worker’s Son, But There’s Hollywood in That Hair” and a Sarah Palin song about her foreign policy credentials: “On a Clear Day, I See Vladivostok.” It covers Mitt Romney’s transformation (“Mitt Romney’s saying now he should have known / A stem cell’s just a human, not quite grown”), the speculation about whether Al Gore was trimming down to run (“Presumably, they looked for photo ops / To see what Gore was stuffing in his chops”), the slow-motion implosion of Hillary Clinton’s drive to the White House (“Some pundits wrote that Hil’s campaign might fare / A little better if Bill wasn’t there”), and the differing responses of Barack Obama and John McCain to the financial crisis (“Though coolness has its limitations, it’ll / Prevent comparisons with Chicken Little”)." - Amazon.com
On the Campaign Trail: The Long Road of Presidential Politics, 1860-2004 edited by Douglas E. Schoen
"An elated, victorious Truman brandishes a newspaper with the headline 'Dewey Defeats Truman'. Theodore Roosevelt galvanizes the crowd with a fiery stump speech. Richard Nixon wipes away sweat during his debate with a poised JFK. Against the backdrop of a towering flag, Reagan captivates crowds with his promise of a stronger, prouder America. Bill Clinton weaves a spell with his saxophone. Throughout American history, few events have commanded the undivided attention of the public the way presidential campaigns have. Now the enduring moments of inspiration, the humiliating gaffes, and the heartbreaking losses of these campaigns are captured in a historic collection of photographs from America's greatest photojournalists. From the divisive election of Abraham Lincoln to the opening salvos of the 2004 campaign, America's presidents -- and pretenders to the office -- come to life in these pages. These men embody not only the drama of their times, but also the great arc of American history. They are captured here in pivotal and telling campaign moments: on the stage and behind the scenes, on whistle-stop tours, at high-voltage conventions, and in head-to-head debates. Accompanied by political adviser Douglas E. Schoen's trenchant essays, the striking photographs in On the Campaign Trail offer a unique view of the moments that have united and divided us during the race for the presidency. A fascinating journey in words and images, this landmark collection brings home the drama, fanfare, and power of America's great national contest." - Amazon.com
Looking Forward to It, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the American Electoral Process by Stephen Elliott
"Stephen Elliott does not know what to think of American voters, this year's desperate and heated run for presidency, or the legitimacy of the political system. He doesn't know whether to love John Kerry or try to love Howard Dean or try, simply, to get excited about Politics. But what he does know is that most Americans are as confused, taxed and broken-hearted as he is. Looking Forward To It is the chronicle of one ordinary fellow's skeptical -- and hilarious -- journey through the election process. It is on the campaign trail that he will meet washed-out campaign managers, idealistic publicists, corrupt journalists, world-weary auditorium janitors, recovering drug addicts, and, of course, politicians. His report documents a journey into the center of 'the thing', our country, where Americans high and low come together to participate in the most profound gesture of democracy: the election." -- Amazon.com
Find more interesting election-year reads using a subject search of "Presidents - United States - Elections"!