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Top 10 Books by Democratic US Senators


The following is my personal holiday season 2006 list of the Top Ten Books by Democratic US Senators.

It's a varied list that includes serious tomes, two touching memoirs, an enchanting book for children, two absorbing novels, and two books explaining the newly influential Democratic economic populism.

Use this list to buy gifts for family and friends, and for yourself. I've included handy links so you can comparison shop for the best prices at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, eCampus, WalMart and other sellers.


1. "The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream " by Barack Obama

This New York Times best-seller sets forth Senator Barack Obama's intriguing analysis of the issues of today. He also decries divisive partisan politics, and shares his thoughts on faith, values and family.

"At the heart of this book is Senator Obama's vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems... He also writes with surprising intimacy and humor about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life" expounds the cover blurb.

Buy this book for anyone interested in the 2008 presidential race.

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2. "Take This Job & Ship It:-Corporate Greed & Brain-Dead Politics" by Byron Dorgan

Written by three-term Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the full title of this book says it all: Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America. The book articulates a Democratic populist's plea to end the shipping of good American jobs overseas by corporations in search of ever-cheaper labor.

Chapters include: Exporting Misery; The Toxic Waste of World Trade; Softheaded Foreign Policy; and Flat World? No, Flat Wrong!

Buy this book to understand the rising new Democratic brand of economic populism.

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3. "My Senator & Me: A Dog's Eye View Of Washington, D.C." by Ted Kennedy

I confess: This might be my favorite of the books listed here. Eight-term Senator Ted Kennedy has written this delightful book for children, grades 1 to 5, from the viewpoint of Splash, his dog. Splash follows his fictional senator through a typical D.C. day which includes a press conference, photo ops, an important vote, and playing on the Capitol lawn.

This book is a fun way to introduce children to the workings of our federal government. Beautifuly illustrated in watercolors by David Small, a winner of the Caldecott Medal.

Buy this adorable book for your kids and grandkids.

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4. "Robert C. Byrd: Child Of The Appalachian Coalfields" by Robert Byrd

89-year-old Senator Robert C. Byrd was first elected to Congress in 1953, and has served in the Senate since 1959. Byrd's journey as a political leader is uniquely American. This book candidly discusses his growth from 1947 member of the Ku Klux Klan to 1968 supporter of civil rights legislation to President pro Tempore of the US Senate.

This lengthy memoir is lively, full of amusing anecdotes and stories, and most importantly, it's a fascinating witness to US history in the latter half of the 20th century.

Buy this book for an American or Southern US history buff.

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5. "Fields of Fire" by James Webb

This is one of the controversial novels by newly-elected Senator Jim Webb of Virgnia that contains a few naughty passages here and there. His opponent, incumbent Senator George Allen, tried to create a last-minute campaign brouhaha over the novels, to naught.

Rated the top 5-stars at Amazon, Fields of Fire is considered a seminal Vietnam War novel. Respected writer Tom Wolfe dubs it "In my opinion, the finest of the Vietnam novels." Webb is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and former Secretary of the Navy.

Buy this book to be absorbed by the ultimate Vietnam novel, as Webb is a talented writer.

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6. "A Time to Run: A Novel " by Barbara Boxer

The senator from California has penned a thinly disguised roman`a clef. It's not great fiction, but it IS great, escapist fun. Sales have been surprisingly brisk.

Per Publishers Weekly: When two UC Berkeley activists "meet Ellen Downey, a petite redhead with a steely determination to make the world a better place, romantic entanglements ensue, with Ellen ultimately marrying Josh... after graduation. Josh runs for political office, Ellen heads a mentoring program for at-risk kids, and Greg... works as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle."

Enjoy this book, with latte at hand, in front of a roaring fire.

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7. "Myth of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy Has Failed" by Sherrod Brown

Seven-term Rep. Sherrod Brown, newly elected in 2006 as US Senator from Ohio, is a strong progressive voice against what he terms the "myth of free trade." Brown expertly dissects so-called free trade, from corporate lobbying and political intimidation, to its realities in China, Mexico, Nicaragua and beyond.

This revised, updated 2006 edition also recounts inside details of the 2005 House battle over the Central American Free Trade Agreement, led by Republican Tom Delay on one side and Brown on the other.

Essential political reading for 2007 and beyond. Buy it for yourself.

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8. "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency" by Robert Byrd

A boatload of books have been penned about the failures of George W. Bush and his administration. If you read just one, make it this insightful book.

A senator who has served under 11 presidents, Robert Byrd of West Virginia possesses a scholar's understanding of the US Constitution, a long-serving leader's window on history, and a patriot's heart for his country. The book is not just another liberal diatribe on Bush. It's also smart, witty and chock-a-block full of inside details and observations on dozens of our leaders in D.C.

Buy this book for your favorite Democrat. He/she will adore it.

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9. "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" by Barack Obama

The uplifting and well-written personal story of Senator Barack Obama, who was born in Honolulu to a Kenya-born scholar and his Irish-American wife. Obama, who only saw his father once after age two, was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii, and rebelled as a teenager.

The lyrical memoir was originally written in 1995, and reissued in 2004. It's an American classic, free of partisan politics except for text in the index of his famed 2004 Democratic Convention speech.

Buy it for anyone who's not yet read this only-in-America gem.

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10. "It Takes A Village " by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I admit it... this book is 10 years old, and I wasn't enamored by it at the time. But read today, it provides a refreshing reminder of one of the heartfelt priorities of Senator Hillary Clinton: children. This is a special book about the needs of modern-day children.

Hillary has actively supported the Children's Defense Fund since 1970, and her 1973 thesis at Yale University was about the rights of children. During law school, she volunteered at a child study center.

Buy this book for everyone who regards Hillary Clinton as another heartless politician. Because she's not.

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