Recommendations for non-fiction books with accounts of political in-fighting?
November 12, 2004 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Any recommendations for non-fiction books with accounts of political in-fighting? [mi]

Several months ago, I read "The Tiananmen Papers," which is a fascinating (though possibly fictional) account of how the upper Chinese leadership reacted to the student protests in '89. Not only does it give a very thorough account of the events that were happening on the ground, it goes into quite a bit of detail about how the major players in the CCP reacted to these events. In particular, I was fascinated by how one leader in the CCP, Zhao Ziyang, was able to understand what the demonstrations meant in terms of the development of Chinese society, but how he completely blew his hand in terms of all of the political in-fighting, and through various random accidents and unintentional blunders, basically surrendered all of his influence to the hardliners within the CCP.

I'm currently reading Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest," which is about how the various people in the Kennedy/Johnson administrations handled the Vietnam war. This book is also really captivating in the way that it shows both people who were able to understand what was really happening on the ground in Vietnam in the early 60's but had no pull with the administration, along with the people who hadn't a freakin' clue of what was going on, but were able to exploit bad boy Cold War posturing to win the upper hand when the decisions to escalate the war were made.

I'm looking for some more reading material along these lines.
posted by alidarbac to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
"The Triumph of Politics" by David Stockman.

Always amazed at the number of people that claim to be interested in modern American politics, yet have never even heard of this book.
posted by dglynn at 12:56 AM on November 13, 2004

Robert Caro's The Power Broker (about Robert Moses), and of course his ongoing bio of Lyndon Johnson.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2004

"The Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suskind is a great account of political in-fighting in the current Bush administration.
posted by SlappyPeterson at 9:01 AM on November 13, 2004

The Best and the Brightest rocks hard, Halberstam has another one called "War in a Time of Peace" which is about the conflicts that sprung up during Bush I and Clinton that is very good. For a great, great, easy, short read on British political machinations during WW II as they pertain to Churchill, read either "Five Days in London" or "The Duel" by Lukacs.
posted by vito90 at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2004

Also should have mentioned...a really great companion piece to "Best and Brightest" is the documentary "Fog of War", which features Robert McNamara. Highly recommended.
posted by vito90 at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2004

I can not recommend "The Triumph of Politics." Stockman sounds naive and whiney in the book. He believed Reagan et al. when they declared that they desired to both cut the budget and lower taxes thus stimulating the economy without busting the budget. So while it deals in politics it reads more like an extended magazine essay on the difficulties of cutting an item from the budget or even lowering its funding due to the pressures coming from those affected. My recollection of the book is old as I read it when it came out in the 80s. dglyn may have read it more recently, so you should probably give dglyn's recommendation more weight than my dismissal. It does give a window into how deals are made in Washington, but can not hold a candle to Bob Caro's books cited by languagehat, especially "Master of the Senate."
posted by caddis at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2004

"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72"
posted by drezdn at 12:49 PM on November 13, 2004

How about The Great Terror, by Robert Conquest? Or All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of the Pacific Rim, by James Fenton?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:26 PM on November 13, 2004

Master of the Senate, Robert Caro.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:26 PM on November 14, 2004

languagehat beat me to it. And a second for The Power Broker.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:27 PM on November 14, 2004

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