Commentary, Politics and Current Events

Books to read before the election

jacket image
We’re less than six weeks away from the election, but if you want to be a truly informed voter when you cast your ballot this November, we’ve got some books to recommend for the home stretch.
In preparation for the first Obama-McCain match-up this Friday, why not spend some time with Newton N. Minow and Craig L. LaMay’s Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future? This fascinating history offers a genuinely inside look into the origins of the presidential debates from the man who invented them. (See memorable moments from presidential debates and read an excerpt from the book.)
If the campaign has gotten too dirty for you, give John G. Geer’s In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns a read. Greer argues that when political candidates attack each other, raising doubts about each other’s views and qualifications, voters—and the democratic process—benefit. (See a special feature, John Geer’s Attack Ad Hall of Fame.)
And if the phrase “hanging chad” still haunts your dreams and you fear another Florida-like ballot debacle, have a look at Marcia Lausen’s Design for Democracy: Ballot and Election Design. A handsomely designed specimen itself, this book calls for and lays out adaptable design models that can improve almost every part of the election process—from ballots to registration forms and informational brochures to administrative materials for poll workers.
For more books for the political season, check out our comprehensive list. And if you haven’t already, register to vote!