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What Are The Presidential Candidates Reading? (Feb, 2004)
Bookselling This Week revealed what the U.S. Presidential candidates are reading and the books that have been written about them. The presidential campaign was kicked off in earnest on Monday, January 19, with the Iowa Caucuses and Bookselling This Week queried Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush, and the eight Democratic candidates on their favorite books. The result is a list of titles as diverse as the list of presidential hopefuls themselves.
George W. Bush | Howard Dean | Wesley Clark | John Edwards
Dick Gephardt | John Kerry | Dennis Kucinich | Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton | Books on the Candidates
George W. Bush
President George W. Bush's favorite books range from Texas history to criticism of 1960s counterculture. According to the website of the Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com, Bush's favorite books are The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston by Marquis James (Univ. of Texas Press); Robert J. Samuelson's The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement (Vintage), a book that delves into the modern American psyche in regards to the "American Dream"; and The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass by Myron Magnet (Encounter), which argues that the honorable intentions of 1960s liberals produced tragic consequences by ultimately creating today's underclass.
In terms of the Democratic candidates, Howard Dean's list of preferred books offers insight into the political and social philosophies of the former Vermont governor. In his memoir Winning Back America (S&S), Dean lists as one of his favorites Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (Metropolitan/Holt), a Top Ten July/August 2001 Book Sense 76 pick. Other titles noted were All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (Harvest), Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (Penguin), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Little, Brown), and Truman by David McCullough (S&S).
A spokesperson for retired Army general and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Wesley Clark cited Pat Conroy's The Great Santini (Bantam), a novel about a Marine fighter pilot and his family, as Clark's favorite book. In addition, Clark has authored Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (PublicAffairs), which was followed up with the recent Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire (PublicAffairs), an analysis of the Iraqi occupation by the U.S.
North Carolina Senator John Edwards' choice of books bespeaks an interest in history. According to the Arizona Republic, Edwards favorite book is The Trial of Socrates by I.F. Stone (Anchor). Additionally, the senator appeared on the MSNBC special news show Hardball: Battle for the White House in October and told host Chris Matthews that he had just finished The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Doubleday) and thought it was a "great book." Edwards, who is also an attorney, wrote Four Trials (S&S), an account of four of his courtroom experiences.
Missouri Representative Dick Gephardt's favorite book is McCullough's Truman, according to AZCentral.com. In addition, the former House Minority Leader authored An Even Better Place: America in the 21st Century (PublicAffairs), in which he offers a self-portrait and outlines his vision for America.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's campaign office told BTW that the senator recently read Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan (Random House) and that Trinity by Leon Uris (Bantam), an epic novel taking place during Ireland's struggle for independence, ranks as one of his favorites. In addition, the Arizona Republic's website lists Flags of Our Father, a nonfiction book about Iwo Jima by James Bradley and Ron Powers (Bantam), and Undaunted Courage, a biography of Meriwether Lewis that details the opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose Pierce (S&S), as favorites of Kerry's as well. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran who is now serving his fourth term in the Senate, wrote the autobiographical A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America (Viking Press) and The New War: The Web of Crime That Threatens America's Security (Touchstone), an overview of international crime published in 1998.
U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich's office told BTW that Kucinich favored the works of Studs Terkel and that the congressman had recently finished reading The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq by Christopher Scheer, Robert Scheer, and Lakshani Chaudhry (Seven Stories). Kucinich, who, in 1977, became mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31, is the author of A Prayer for America (Thunder's Mouth), a collection of speeches.
Senator Joe Lieberman lists his favorite books as the Bible and Warren's All the King's Men, according to MSNBC. Additionally, his campaign office noted that the presidential hopeful recently finished reading Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (Norton) and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (S&S). Lieberman has also written two books: An Amazing Adventure: Joe and Hadassah's Personal Notes on the 2000 Campaign, with his wife Hadassah (S&S) and In Praise of Public Life: The Honor and Purpose of Political Science, with Michael Dorso (Touchstone).
Reverend Al Sharpton, said his favorite book is Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr (Westminster John Knox Press), as well as the works of Christian theologian Paul Tillich, according to MSNBC. Sharpton, with Karen Hunter, is the author of Al on America (Kensington), in which his 2004 campaign platform is outlined.
Books on the Candidates
In addition to favorite books and titles that the candidates authored, numerous books have been published regarding some of the eight Democratic presidential candidates and, of course, President Bush. The following is a list of recent books written about the President and the Democratic candidates:
Websites mentioned in this feature:
Bookselling This Week