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10 Books to Help You Understand the 2020 US Elections

With Americans already in queues for the polls and posting their votes, the world is watching with bated breath. Here is a list of books that might help you better understand the ballot.
by Carrie M. King | Oct 27 2020

Perhaps the most discussed presidential election of all time is due to take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. The debates are over, many ballots have already been cast by absentee voters, people are waiting in long queues, and no matter what side of the aisle you favor, everyone has an opinion on the outcome of this mid-pandemic election.

If you feel like you’ve left it too late to clue yourself in on what’s happening, there’s still time with the Blinkist app. Our curation team, Robyn Kerkhof and Romi Rellum, have put together a list of books that can help you get to grips with the history and current reality of voting in America, including takes from the two candidates. You can get the key insights from each of these titles on the Blinkist app in just about 15 minutes.

Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics by Joe Biden

This 2007 memoir from Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, lays out anecdotes from his life and long political career. From advice his parents gave him about sticking to his convictions through to, at the time of publication, his 40 years as a senator, Biden shares the key stories that have shaped him as an individual, as a citizen, and as a leader.

The Fight to Vote: The long struggle to get all Americans the vote by Michael Waldman

While it’s easy to assume that the right to vote is a given for every citizen, in actual fact the story of suffrage is far from straightforward. The Fight to Vote unravels the struggle for democracy in the US, from the Revolution up until the present day when voting rights continue to be undermined. If you want to know the full story of American voting, this is the book to read.

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

Following the controversy over possible Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn, investigated what really happened. Their results include details of Trump’s business ties to Russia, the Russian connections within his campaign team, hacking, and social media disinformation campaigns.

It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump by Stuart Stevens

Former Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens spent years working with and helping politicians get elected at every level of the GOP. Released in August 2020, Stevens’s book now claims that Trump’s election was the natural conclusion of a party that, he claims, has been lying to itself about its values since the 1960s.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan

Published in 2007, The Myth of the Rational Voter shares the barriers faced by our democracy and why they matter. There are a whole host of misconceptions about the problems of democracy but one of the most important things that frequently gets overlooked is the biases and irrational beliefs of the average voter. A truly fascinating look into how democracy works.

Shattered: Insight Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes

Why didn’t Hillary Clinton win in 2016? For many, her defeat was unthinkable and caused a seismic reassessment of how American voters feel about their candidates and their systems. In Shattered, political writers Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes offer an object lesson in how Clinton made winning an uphill battle for herself and shows all the many missteps that lost her the election.

Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie

The Cambridge Analytica revelations marked a watershed in how many people engaged with social media and thought about the kinds of content being served to them as ads and in their newsfeed. This book by the whistleblower who revealed the extent by which Facebook harvested the data of 87 million people tells the entire story of the leak.

Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America a Democracy Again by Dan Pfeiffer

Former Obama advisor and co-host of Pod Save America, Dan Pfeiffer’s 2020 release lays out the playbook for defeating Donald Trump and repairing American democracy. An ambitious guide towards changing the current system, Un-Trumping America is full of practical campaigning and policy suggestions for those eager to see Trump lose.

Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us by Donald Trump Jr.

Triggered is the eldest Trump son’s 2019 critique of left-wing politics in the US, in which he claims that the greatest threat to freedom of speech comes from political correctness, identity politics and self-victimization. Trump Jr. argues for standing up for what you believe in and underlines perseverance as the key to success.

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris

Published last year, this memoir by Californian Senator, civil rights activist, and now, Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, tells the story of an immigrants’ daughter who became a lawyer and who might end up going all the way to the White House. For those who want to learn more about this potential VP, The Truths We Hold is a must-read.

These books are obviously just a small selection of all those that could shine a light on the US election but we think they offer a spectrum of opinions on the current state of the union. You probably can’t read 11 books in a week—or at least we certainly can’t—but you can check out the key insights for each one in just about 15 minutes on Blinkist.

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