Book Review: The Book Of Political Lists

The Book Of Political Lists, from the editors of Geroge Magazine

If you read this book, you know exactly what kind of person you are, namely someone who enjoys reading about politics [1].  This book is what it says it is, a book of political lists, a book lasting nearly 400 pages, most of it highly entertaining to read. The authors cite their research, some of it from personal interviews with journalists and political writers, some of it highly biased in nature–the authors of the book, for example, consider various left-wing terrorists as “prisoners of conscience” but deny that privilege to right-wing activists (357-359).  That is only one example, but perhaps the most glaring, of the sort of bias that can be found in this book.  Then again considering that the chief editor of George Magazine was the late JFK Jr, and that this book was written during the late 1990s after the reelection of Bill Clinton to the presidency–it seems so long ago–such a bias is to be expected.  Nevertheless, if the reader is interested in a very random and far-reaching set of political lists, and is willing to discount for the obvious bias, this book offers some serious entertainment value.

The contents of this book consist of a large amount of lists, often with entertaining commentary along with them.  The lists, as you might expect, are divided into sections, including presidential lists, first family lists, vice presidents and cabinet lists, presidential polls, congressional lists, current congressional lists, Supreme Court lists, campaign lists, third-party lists, state and local lists, the good, the bad, and the impeachable, lists from popular culture, and historical and miscellaneous lists.  If you want to know what movie performances of Ronald Reagan that the editors think are the most notable or the most forgettable, this book will tell you.  If you want to know the more odd professional backgrounds of the Congressmen of the mid 1990’s, this book will tell you as well.  If you wanted to know the history of Polish or Jewish Congressmen, or the scandals that sank political careers and those that didn’t, this book will give answers.  This book will give answers about politics that one would likely never think to ask.  The end result is a book that is entertaining and mostly enjoyable, even with the obvious bias of the compilers of the book’s information.

So, ultimately, what is this book good for?  It is good for trivia questions if you happen to be in a crowd of people who likes somewhat outdated political statistics.  The book would be even better if it was periodically updated after elections to keep it up to date.  Perhaps that was the goal of the authors of the book, but the death of JFK JR and the subsequent demise of the magazine likely put paid to any such goals or ambitions.  It is a worthy matter for someone else to pick up on if they could obtain the copyright to do so.  Given how commonly one reads of terrible political books, a frequently updated book, even in an electronic format, would be far better than most of the books about political subjects that one will encounter.  So, this is a book that is flawed, but has enough material that works to overcome the material that does not work, or that is outright offensive, and that is enough that the book can be cautiously recommended for those readers who appreciate politics and its quirkiness.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: The Book Of Political Lists

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Birth Of Modern Politics | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Triumph Of William McKinley | Edge Induced Cohesion

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