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10 Explosive Political Reads
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10 Explosive Political Reads

Picture of Alice White Walker
Updated: 25 October 2016
Nothing gets tongues wagging like a juicy political exposé. From prime ministers to cabinet officers, there’s always someone waiting ‘to set the record straight’. From legendary autobiographies, to scandalous biographies, check out our list of the best political reads to captivate you this autumn.

The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2001) by Christopher Hitchens

Undoubtedly one of the most explosive political biographies to date, Christopher Hitchens creates his case against politician Henry Kissinger and the alleged war crimes he committed during his terms as United States Secretary of State. Hitchens, a British-American journalist, holds Kissinger responsible for ‘war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.’ A powerful accusation against the man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. Hitchens candidly documents the facts and how these conclusions demonstrate not only Kissinger’s liability but the American government’s choice to look the other way.

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour | © Penguin
The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour | © Penguin

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour by Andrew Rawnsley

The Observer‘s political commentator Andrew Rawnsley published his first book in 2010, writing from an insider’s perspective of the New Labour government. The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour concentrates on Britain’s political metamorphosis during the end of Tony Blair’s second term and the beginning of Gordon Brown’s New Labour. In this fly-on-the-wall-style recount, Rawnsley focuses specifically on Blair’s transformation and Britain’s engagement in the Iraq War. More salacious points include Gordon Brown’s bullying and the feud that surrounded the two leaders in their struggle to govern the country. Rawnsley’s colorful and in-depth account of the Labour Party’s most controversial political period has been heralded for its wide appeal and thriller-like narrative.

Alan Clark Diaries (1993, 2000 and 2002) by Alan Clark

Serving as Junior Minister in the Departments of Employment, Trade and Defence during Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, and then under John Major, Alan Clark kept a personal diary from 1955 until August 1999. Published in three volumes (In Power 1983–1992 (1993) / Into Politics 1972–1982 (2000) / The Last Diaries 1993–1999 (2002)) the Alan Clark Diaries became an instant phenomenon, recording Thatcher’s timely ousting, intimate details about his colleagues, and his own battle to rise up the ranks of the Conservative party. The overwhelming success of the exposés led to the BBC commissioning a six-episode series called The Alan Clark Diaries in 2004.

Call Me Dave: The Unauthorised Biography of David Cameron (2015) by Lord Ashcroft

Promising to be ‘packed with revelations,’ former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft has written the latest political blockbuster on Prime Minister David Cameron, due to be published in April 2016. After rumors that the book would be Ashcroft’s opportunity to settle scores, critics claim that Call Me Dave is a well-balanced account. Documenting Cameron’s rise to power from Eton to Downing Street, and his highs and lows during the Tory government, the author gives praise where praise is due. However, those seeking the gory details won’t be disappointed; the book includes details about Cameron’s relationships with his wife and with Boris Johnson, and an allegation from his school days which has been dubbed the ‘Piggate’ scandal. Pre-order now and judge for yourself.

Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Is Abolishing Itself) (2010) by Thilo Sarrazin

The most successful book on politics written by a German author in a decade, Deutschland schafft sich ab addresses Germany’s political and economic stance and, according to Sarrazin, the potential downfall it could have on the country. Former Finance Minister for Berlin and executive for the board of the Bundesbank, Sarrazin ruffled feathers with opinions expressed in the book, which included advocating stricter immigration policies and state welfare benefits. He received overwhelming criticism from Germany’s immigrant Muslim community, whom he accused of being the most reluctant to integrate into society. The aftermath of the book saw his dismissal from the Bundesbank, and his membership of the Social Democratic Party was reviewed. A gripping read that caused shockwaves for both author and country.

Diana: Her True Story - in Her Own Words | © Michael O'Mara Books Ltd.
Diana: Her True Story – in Her Own Words | © Michael O’Mara Books Ltd

Diana: Her True Story – in Her Own Words (1992) by Andrew Morton

Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of England’s most beloved public figures. Tabloid journalist Andrew Morton caused public outrage after the publication of his biography Diana: Her True Story in 1992. Propelled by the naysayers who scrutinized his his sources, Morton published a a subsequent edition in 2003, revealing that she was in fact the main source for the biography. The international bestseller is brimming with discoveries about the British royal family and Diana’s personal struggles, including a battle with bulimia, suicide attempts, and her husband Charles’ long-term affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Transcripts of Diana’s tapes were included, highlighting both her fragility and her determination to make a difference in global causes. Read the sensational book that left the British monarchy reeling…

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers | © Mainstream Publishing / Loung Ung | © RogerK/WikiCommons
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers | © Mainstream Publishing / Loung Ung | © RogerK/WikiCommons

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (2001) by Loung Ung

Loung Ung, one of seven children to a Cambodian government official, recounts her experience of the country’s chilling and brutal occupation by the Khmer Rouge in this heartbreaking memoir. After her family is torn apart by murder and labor camps, Ung is sent to work as a child soldier at age five. With only her inner strength to depend on, Ung perseveres through Cambodia’s most tragic period in time in a bid to reunite her family. A tragic account of the horrific truths behind Pol Pot’s regime and a child’s will to survive despite the odds, First They Killed My Father is to be adapted into an original film for Netflix, to be directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey (2001) by Antonia Fraser

The historical biography that inspired director Sofia Coppola to create the much-loved film of the same name, Marie Antoinette unpacks the life and events of France’s most infamous queen. From her frivolous spending to the truth behind ‘let them eat cake,’ Marie Antoinette is still one of the most debated historical figures. Investigating some of her most controversial aspects, including her relationship with Louis XVI and rumors of extramarital affairs, Marie Antoinette is a must-read for fans of historical non-fiction. Fraser succeeds in painting a realistic portrait of the queen and bringing the politics of Versailles to life.

John Major: The Autobiography (2010) by John Major

A favorite with fans of political memoirs, John Major: The Autobiography is a candid account of the Conservative Party leader’s life — from leaving school with three O-levels to becoming Margaret Thatcher’s successor. Praised for his attention to detail, Major is one of the first British Prime Ministers to speak so honestly about his time at Downing Street, addressing several key events in global politics, including England’s journey towards peace with Northern Ireland and negotiating the Gulf War with George Bush. A gripping and persuasive read, John Major: The Autobiography confronts both the highs and lows of Major’s political journey, the people he met, and the controversies that he faced.

Because He Could (2005) by Dick Morris

Friend and political advisor to Bill Clinton during his time in the White House, Dick Morris wrote a rebuttal to Clinton’s best-selling autobiography My Life, with Because He Could. Co-written with his wife, Eileen, Because He Could aims to unmask the portrait of ‘America’s favorite President.’ The intimate revelations and anecdotes demonstrate the author’s proximity to the President and give a devastatingly opposing view of the people’s Clinton. Morris’ narrative tone is unmistakable: he is enjoying exposing every morsel on the page. Fans of this might enjoy the preceding biography Rewriting History — a similar style take-down on Hillary Clinton.