From the Ballot to the Bully Pulpit: Books on Presidents and Elections

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It’s easy to get swept up in the current election cycle and its attendant outrages and clashes, and this year is no different. There’s so much more to read about the U.S. Presidents than staid official biographies. This booklist will provide you with multiple entries into the subject of elections, especially presidential ones, and the subject of voting in the United States.

It can be grounding and perhaps heartening to read about the turbulence surrounding previous presidential elections. If so, look at “1920: The Year of the Six Presidents” to get an idea of what was happening a century ago with the election, or “The Carnival Campaign: How the Rollicking 1840 Campaign of ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler Too’ Changed Presidential Elections Forever.”

If you have ever wondered how the primaries got their start, check out “Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Presidential Primary.”

Rather go over the aftermath of other presidential races? We have “Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876” or “Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election.”

Getting lost in the minutiae of current electoral demographic analysis in the United States is a noble pursuit. Dive into “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority,” or try the social science-influenced “Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government.”

You could spend some time reacquainting yourself with the mechanics of presidential elections by perusing “Selecting a President: Fundamentals of American Government Series, Book 1.”

Forgotten the names and deeds of presidents themselves? We have “Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents,” and for the reader who has the basics down: “Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents: Strange Stories and Shocking Trivia From Inside the White House.”

Get a peek inside the office of the presidency when you read “The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency,” enjoy a view from the journalist’s seat in “The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America,” or find out what the architects of presidential campaigns and terms deal with in “Off Script: An Advance Man’s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, and Political Suicide.”

If voting itself, is more your area of interest, check out Stacey Abrams’ “Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America,” or “Thank You for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America.”

For a closer look at types of voter disenfranchisement, we have “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” and “Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.”

And if all this has made you really want to put yourself in the running for political office, read “Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Why Cursing at the News Won’t Save the Nation, But Your Name on a Local Ballot Can” and “Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself.”

Check out the CivicCLP page for more up-to-date information on voting and elections in Allegheny County and beyond, including links for voter registration and mail-in ballot applications. You can also sign up for customized text messages on a variety of civic topics from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. To opt in to these text messages, text CivicCLP to 22999. You will then receive a welcome email, and three to four text messages per month.

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1920: The Year of the Six Presidents

In 1920 six former or future presidents were in the race. It was the first year that women were allowed to vote. Democrats and Republicans tried to outspend and out-publicize one another, using newspapers and newsreels to get their message out, while barreling into the economy of the roaring ‘20s. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Off Script: An Advance Man’s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, and Political Suicide

Image has been a deciding factor in the fate of presidential candidates for over a century – a well-timed photo op can make a campaign, while a poorly-thought out ride on a tank can sink a candidate’s chances. As someone who has worked in the optics of the presidency and presidential campaigns, King gives an in-depth look at presidential stagecraft. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby, as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.