Silly Season and Political Thrillers


imageWe’re heading into the hot zone of national election season this month–and the consequences of  silly season 2016 are going to start having serious consequences for the US, and the world. All this puts me in the mood to stock up on some nail-biting, high stakes political thrillers to put at the top of my summer reading list. Suggestions? What are some of the best political thrillers you’ve ever read?




18 thoughts on “Silly Season and Political Thrillers

    • Jim, I’m rereading the letters of Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and other scribes who penned memoirs and historical accounts during Rome’s long, turbulent decline. I’m amazed at how modern the voices seem–and how rarely people back then acted with courage and integrity in the public interest. You hear about the same weak senators, the power-hungry self-promoters, the same passive bystanders, and the same yapping mobs calling for mayhem (now found mostly on Twitter and online news media comments), as we know in our present day. It’s eerie, and disconcerting. Many people don’t realize how fragile and vulnerable democracies (or republics, back then), are. I truly hope our leaders serve us better than the ones they had in Rome back in the day.

  1. What a great question, Kathryn. As a Cold War baby, I really like Carré’s Smiley novels. But my very favorite is The Manchurian Candidate, book and film. In looking up The Manchurian Candidate, I just read that Richard Condon has been accused of plagiarizing large chunks of I, Claudius for it. If that’s true, he certainly picked a terrific source, because it’s brilliant as well.

    • I’ve been reading about Claudius from ancient writers and observers during his time. What a fascinating character! Thanks for commenting, Laura!

  2. I’m not sure any fiction writer could’ve anticipated the politics we’re enduring for the upcoming election. If someone had imagined such a bizarro world as Mike called it, no one would’ve believed it.

    I’m interested in hearing recommendations for reading. It might help to read an author’s vision of a political scene more grounded in “reality.”

  3. NIght of Camp David and Seven Days in May.

    And I have to go with Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. It’s got the whole ability to see the future thing, but at it’s heart is a ruthless, narcissistic presidential candidate too scarily similar to someone running today.

    • Seven Days in May is my all-time favorite political film. Script by Rod
      Serling, so probably better than the book. For sure Serling wrote the famous last line that Kirk Douglas delivers to Burt Lancaster. What a moment! (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t see it yet.)

  4. Hmmm. Could always go with the classics: The Day of the Jackal and The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth come to mind. After The Dogs of War you could read The Wonga Coup by Adam Roberts, a non-fiction book about a group of men (including The Iron Lady’s son Mark Thatcher) who use that very book as blueprint to take over Equatorial Guinea (the thinly disguised country in DOW). International intrigue and politics together are always fun. If you want an alternative to Le Carre you could always try Len Deighton. It’s been many years since I read his books but I do recall enjoying them.

  5. I don’t usually like political thrillers because, like legal thrillers, they are too often all alike and unsurprising. But some exceptions I have really liked or loved:

    Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (or is it Rob Tom?)
    The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe
    The Osterman Weekend by Ludlum.
    The Third Man by Graham Greene (also one of my fave movies!)

    Non-fiction: All the Presidents Men.

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