Reader Friday: Best Political Thrillers?

It’s a Presidential Election Year–aka “Silly Season”–again. What are some of your favorite political thriller books or films?

Update: We’re truly sad to learn of the passing of Harper Lee, who wrote perhaps the best “political” story (as told through the highly personal story of a child) in American history, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.



16 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Best Political Thrillers?

  1. Seven Days in May, written by Rod Serling and starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Fredric March. It has one of my all-time favorite movie lines, when Lancaster confronts Douglas at the end and demands to know if Douglas, who exposed Lancaster’s attempt at a military coup, knows who Judas was.

    Douglas replies, “Yes, I know who Judas was. He was a man I worked for and admired, until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform.”

  2. My favorite political movie is Schindler’s List.

    I buy a lot of old used paperbacks, which is how I acquired my favorite politically-oriented ones: “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” which I think falls under creative nonfiction, and “Is Paris Burning,” which I think is now considered historical fiction, rather than creative nonfiction.

  3. I guess “Schindler’s List” isn’t technically a thriller.

    However, Argo was–loved that film. Even though I knew how it turned out in the end, I was still on edge throughout.

    • I think Schindler’s List IS a political thriller. It portrays a German industrialist taking on the Nazi political machine, first on his own behalf, and then for the benefit of his business.

      All of that changes when he begins to understand that he can use the very same tactics, alliances, and friendships to save the lives of a thousand people, keeping himself alive in the meantime.

      The savagery of the Nazi mind is portrayed as his worst enemy, that that mind would kill him if he makes errors in judgment.

      God bless the memory of Oskar Schindler.

  4. Oh wow…so many goodies here. Funny you should mention this…just watched All the President’s Men last night when I couldn’t sleep. What a great flick.

    Three Days of the Condor.
    The Parallax View (Warren Beatty…and a twisted little plot)
    The Crying Game.
    The Ipcress File with Michael Caine.

    That’s just off the top of my noggin. Also have a soft spot in my heart for The Hunt for Red October. I like sub movies…ditto Das Boot.

  5. Political thrillers are one of my favorite genres, and they’re so hard to pull off. When I was a teenager I was huge LeCarre fan. Loved The Little Drummer Girl book, but not the movie. Love several of the above, including The Manchurian Candidate (1st movie), Three Days of the Condor, Black Sunday (terrorism, so yes, I’ll count it as a political thriller), and Z. Let’s count The Americans (on FX; new season coming soon) in the genre; one of my favorite shows.

    I’ll give a special shout out to The Dogs of War (book: Frederick Forsythe, also a movie), if for no other reason than it actually inspires Mark Thatcher, Simon Mann and others to attempt to commit The Wonga Coup in Equatorial Guinea. These events were later recounted in the nonfiction The Wonga Coup by Adam Roberts, which is fascinating. I recommend it highly.

    More political thrillers!

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