In order to form a more perfect union, read these books!

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The United States has entered yet another monumental political era. President Joe Biden now occupies the White House and the Democrats control both the House of Representatives and the Senate; this is quite a change from when the Trump administration took office four years ago! Within this whirlwind of the past four years, every day has brought ground-breaking news making keeping up with the events taking place over the pond increasingly difficult. However, if you have been bitten by the politics bug after the storming of the Capitol building and Biden’s inauguration, there are many books from a diversity of authors who will aid you on your quest to make sense of American politics.

To start with a succinct yet busy account of the Trump presidency, Jon Sopel’s A Year at the Circus provides an entertaining read that will keep you enthralled for hours on end. Although not up to date with Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus, the first three years of Trump’s administration are compressed into digestible chapters that cover key institutions in US politics such as the Vice Presidency, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet. For those unaware of key terminology, Sopel explains everything thoroughly, so you are unlikely to feel out of your depth with this book. Equally, being an esteemed BBC journalist, Sopel writes with an entertaining flair that never emulates a lecture. No matter your pre-existing knowledge concerning the subject, this book has something for everyone.

For an American journalists’ take on the events of the past four years, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump’s White House explores all the drama and anguish that has come to define the Trump era. Upon its release in 2018, the White House was critical of the claims Wolff makes in the book but overall, it was widely lauded as a powerful piece of investigative journalism. In covering the Trump campaign from its conception through to 2018, Wolff can pinpoint many of the defining moments that have transformed the state of American politics and conservatism. With interviews and insider accounts of serving under Trump from key figures of the Trump show, the book is dirty, brutal and frightening.

As we have seen after the storming of the Capitol building by domestic terrorists, many of those formerly close to Trump have been keen to socially distance themselves from their former boss. Despite their previous enabling of his erratic behaviour, upon exiting the White House, they cannot resist writing a tell-all book. In what is essentially its own genre at this point, former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happens, and former Apprentice candidate turned executive employee Omarosa Manigault’s Unhinged are key texts from former White House employees. Both provide insights into extraordinary moments, but it is understandable if one finds supporting books written by former Trump enablers out of the question.

If all this political backstabbing is too much, wholesome US political books do exist! Take Michelle Obama’s Becoming as an example of an uplifting and empowering book that captures the optimism that permeated the American political scene before the victory of Donald Trump in 2016. In recounting her developments through life, one can celebrate her achievements and find inspiration from her words. If one misses the Obamas, President Barack Obama’s latest release, A Promised Land, is written in the same vein as his wife’s. It is well written and contemplative, capturing the emotional turmoil that inevitably stems from occupying one of the most influential roles in the world.

To commemorate the memory of the upstanding Republican Senator John McCain, his 2018 memoir, The Restless Wave, co-written by Mark Salter, is well worth the read, irrespective of one’s political persuasions. As a moderate Republican who disavowed Trump’s rhetoric, McCain’s legacy remains an important one for the Republican Party moving forward; hopefully, his words in this book will resonate with those seeking to reclaim American conservatism from the likes of democracy-subverting President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. Having written the book whilst undergoing treatment for cancer, his tone is reflective, resulting in a powerful, existential read that will encourage you to approach his life and career open to complexity.

Although losing relevancy in the ever-changing political sphere, Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution will be important to read as more pressure is placed upon the Democratic Party’s unity in the narrowly won Senate. Sanders has long represented the socialist-leaning wing of the Democratic Party whilst President Joe Biden has long built his political career on moderate liberalism. This book will help the reader to grasp the complexities to be found within the US’ two broad-church parties. After narrowly missing out on being the Democrat’s presidential nominee twice, his influence is likely to remain and may become instrumental in deciding Biden’s policy directions over the next four years at least! With the book including both a fairly brief memoir and detailed analysis of social, economic and political issues facing America, this book is perfect for those who are interested in the man himself and those who seek to learn more about issue voting in the US.

As we are all living on a student budget, some of these books are expensive; Obama’s A Promised Land costs £17.50 for a hardcover and £15.99 for the e-book edition. Luckily, in order to indulge your political interests, there are many podcasts that are just as well produced as the aforementioned books and capture the magic for those who’d rather listen than read. On BBC Sounds, Barack Obama has recorded selected readings from his latest memoir, exploring his time as president, his own identity and his role as a family man. Obama is a masterful orator so being able to relax on a social-distanced walk whilst listening to his book is a lovely experience. Equally, the author of A Year at the Circus, Jon Sopel hosts the podcast Americast on BBC Sounds alongside Emily Maitlis. This podcast is a breath of fresh air in the crowded realm of political podcasts, remaining as light-hearted and bias-free as one could possibly be during the Trump presidency.

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