Today, 22nd January, the BBC has published a rather timely article that asks ‘Does America need to change how it elects its presidents?’ With candidates ranging from one-time member of the Young People’s Socialist League, Bernie Sanders, to right-wing businessman Donald Trump, you’d be forgiven for wondering how exactly America finds itself such a range of presidential candidates. Election campaigns are drawing out, the need for funding is greater than ever, (the 2012 election cost $2 billion), and media frenzy seems to have struck fever pitch, focusing on personalities rather than policies. Luckily, Brookings Institution Press has a number of books that will help you navigate the complications of US politics and explain some of the intricacies of the path from party-hopeful to president.


For those wanting to know more about the nomination process, Elaine C. Kamarck’s book Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates, Second Edition includes analysis of the 2012 election and gives a thorough picture of the current nomination process.

Primary Politics

Political insider Kamarck explains how the presidential nomination process became the often baffling system we have today. Her focus is the largely untold story of how presidential candidates since the early 1970s have sought to alter the rules in their favour and how their failures and successes have led to further change. Drawing on meticulous research, interviews with key figures in both parties, and years of experience, this book explores one of the most important questions in American politics - how the list of presidential candidates is narrowed down every four years.


After reading Primary Politics, further your knowledge of past US governments by reading the thought-provoking America's Political Dynasties: From Adams to Clinton by Stephen Hess. In this updated edition of his bestselling work, presidential historian Hess offers an encyclopedic tour of the families that have loomed large over America's political history. Starting with John Adams, Hess paints the portraits of the men and women who, by coincidence, connivance, or sheer sense of duty, have made up America's political elite.

America's Political Dynasties


Finally, due for release this April this year, Elaine C. Kamarck’s newest book Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again promises to be an invaluable companion; giving insight into Barack Obama’s presidency as well as offering guidance to the next US president.

Why Presidents Fail

Kamarck's book asks two crucial questions: When did Americans lose faith in their leaders? And how can they get it back? Kamarck argues that presidents today spent too much time talking, and not enough time governing; after decades of "imperial" and "rhetorical" presidencies, the US is in need of a "managerial" president. She explains the difficulties of governing in the modern political landscape, and offers examples and recommendations of how the next president can not only recreate faith in leadership, but also run a competent, successful administration.