GQ Magazine has published it's Top 100 political books (not online), so I thought as it's Easter I'd follow suit. These are all books I have read and enjoyed, many of which will be familiar to you, but some may not be. The list includes some political fiction too. If you click on the title of each book, you'll get through to the Amazon page about the book. Do feel free to discuss your own favourite books in the comments.
1. In the Arena by Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon is one of the most underrated writers in politics. He features several times on this list. This book is a mixture of memoir and analysis of what it takes to be a politician. The book combines a mixture of candour, honesty and deceit, but it is highly readable, revealing and at times gripping.
2. Breaking the Code by Gyles Brandreth
If you want to understand the inner workings of the Major government, this is the book for you. I still maintain it's the best political book of the last decade. As you would expect, it's very gossipy, with lots of little cutting asides, but it also lays bare the ambitious soul of a man who knows his ambition isn't going to be fulfilled. If it had been, we wouldn't have been able to read these diaries!
3. What I Saw at the Revolution by Peggy Noonan
Peggy Noonan was Ronald Reagan's speechwriter. Her ability to express what Reagan was thinking and her analysis of what was going on around her at the White House make this a must read for any student of the 1980s.
4. Memoirs by Richard Nixon
Nixon is one of the finest political writers in recent history. His books 'Leaders', 'Six Crises', and 'In the Arena' should be required reading for any aspiring politician. His memoirs are a remarkable work of literature.
5. Tony Benn's Diaries
This is the British equivalent of the Robert Caro books on Johnson in length. The diaries now run to 7 volumes, but it's worth starting at the beginning and reading the whole lot. A lot more personal that you might imagine. Lots of tears, rants and emotion. I'm proud to say I have signed copies of the whole lot, each with a little message from the great man.
6. One of us by Hugo Young
Of the twenty or so biographies of Margaret Thatcher this is by far the best. As a man of the left, Young produced a brilliant work about a brilliant woman.
7. Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher
More readable and more human than the accompanying 'Downing Street Years' volume. This book covers her life up to 1979.
8. Alan Clark's Diaries
Probably the most gossipy political diaries ever written. The first volume contains one of the best accounts of Margaret Thatcher's downfall. Clark was the proverbial loveable rogue. he invited me to lunch once and to be honest I wasn't looking forward to it at all. But he turned out to be one of the most charming men I have ever met. I'm looking forward to Ion Trewin's forthcoming biography of him.
9. Six Crises by Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon looks at six crises in modern politial history and analyses the options available to the politicians concerned in the minutest details. It almost reads like a drama.
10. Here Today Gone Tomorrow by John Nott
The best autobiography I had the pleasure of publishing at Politico's. Searingly honest, laced with wicked humour, and great political insight.
11. Just in Time by Sir John Hoskyns
If I had to recommend one book to David Cameron to read, this would be it. It tells of Hoskyns time advising the Thatcher Opposition and the problems he and they encountered.
12. View from Number Eleven by Nigel Lawson
Huge book with perhaps a liitle too much economics for my liking, but a fantastic record of the Thatcher government.
13. Time of my Life by Denis Healey
My favourite Labour memoir - characteristically truculent, funny and honest.
14. A Prison Diary by Jeffrey Archer
When the first volume was published I felt it shouldn't have come out while he was in prison. When I got round to reading it I was spellbound. If you want to find out what prison life is like, warts and all, you need look no further. I can't recommend this three volume set highly enough.
15. The Insider by Piers Morgan
One of the best books I have read in the few years, although some of it I take with a pinch of salt. Piers admits he write the diaries retrospectively so you have to read them with a degree of scepticism but they're no less enjoyable for that. If you're at all interested in the world of newspapers, media and celebrity then you'll love it.
16. Barbara Castle Diaries
The first volume is very difficult to get hold of now. I paid £75 for mine! Written in a slightly dry manner these diaries don't have the gossip of others, but Castle certainly has an acidic tongue, which she deploys to great effect. Perhaps a little bit too wordy.
17. Paddy Ashdown Diaries
The love affair that failed to be consumated! The central theme is the mating dance between Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown who manages to convince himself he's going to be in the Cabinet. The trouble is, Tony gets cold feet. Some passages make Ashdown look weak, but overall you get the impression of a fundamentally a good man.
18. Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell by Simon Heffer
A fantastically researched and brilliantly written book about one of the true enigmas of British politics. Heffer clearly 'gets' Powell.
19. Nixon: Ruin & Recovery 1973-1990 by Stephen Ambrose
A fascinating examination of Nixon's post presidential years, in which he finally came to terms with what he had cost the country. A deeply personal book, it outlines the influence he continued to wield throughout his latter years.
20. Salisbury by Andrew Roberts
Huge tome about a Conservative Prime Minister who seems to have been rather forgotten.
21. Chance Witness by Matthew Parris
A brilliant autobiography from one of the finest writers of his generation. Typically indiscreet, he's characteritstically honest about some turbulent episodes in his life.
22. Tom Driberg: Soul of Indiscretion by Francis Wheen
Hugely entertaining account of the serial cottager. One wonders how Driberg got away with it for so long.
23. Control Freaks by Nicholas Jones
Nick Jones's books on Labour spin were a constant thorn in the side to the Downing Street spin operation. This was the best. And not just because I published it!
24. Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward
An expose of the lack of planning for post war Iraq which left the Bush adminsitration reeling.
25. Memoirs - John Major
A surprising bestseller. Very readable, and sometimes extremely bitchy.
26. Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher
An account of Lady T's years in power, which is authoratative rather than gripping.
27. Servants of the People by Andrew Rawnsley
The best book about the early years of the Blair government.
28. Time to Declare - David Owen
I have always been rather a fan of David Owen, who I have always regarded as a pseudo-Tory. He had many failings but this book is not one of them.
29. Second Term by Simon Walters
A ripping yarn about a Labour Prime Minister trying to get a second term in office. I published this book at Politico's even though we didn't normally do fiction. Several of the fictional pieces then turned into reality. Strange but true.
30. Unfinished Revolution by Philip Gould
Outlines how New Labour came into being and how its work was far from finished. Regarded as a bible by Tory modernisers.
31. Edwina Currie's Diaries
Edwina's diaries remain very underrated. Forget the Major stuff, the rest of the book is perhaps the best account yet fo the frustrations of a junior minister. You'd expect the diaries to be gossipy and you wouldn't be disappointed. A bit like the Archer books, you need to cast your preconceptions aside before you start reading.
32. Leaders by Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon profiles a series of world leaders he met, and analyses important decisions they made.
33. Richard Crossman Diaries
I admit I haven't waded through all the volumes, but this gives a perfect insight into the Wilson governments. Quite how Crossman ever found the time to write the diaries beggars belief because they are hugely detailed.
34. Aachen Memorandum by Andrew Roberts
A little noticed novel by historian Andrew Roberts. Centres around the implosion of the EU in 2045. Absolutely gripping. Now sadly out of print.
35. The Woodrow Wyatt Diaries
Woodrow Wyatt was a Labour MP but over the years drifted to the right. He had the ear of Margaret Thatcher, and became rather besotted by her. But I know from personal experience that he was someone she listened to. His diaries are wickedly gossipy.
36. Prime Minster: The Office & its Holders Since 1945 by Peter Hennessy
Perhaps Hennessy's finest work, which looks at the office of Prime Minister and each holder's attitude to it.
37. A Conservative Coup by Alan Watkins
Possibly the best book about the events surrounding the fall of Margaret Thatcher's fall and John Major's election as leader of the Conservative Party.
38. A Life at the Centre - Roy Jenkins
Elegant, as you would expect. perhaps not quite so honest about his personal life as he might have been, but we await the official biography for that sort of detail!
39. A Memoir - Barbara Bush
Hugely enjoyable by one of my favourite political spouses. Behind the grandmotherly exterior lay a spine of iron. She leaves no hostages to fortune in this charming book.
40. A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin
Left wing firebrand Harry Perkins becomes PM but doesn't reckon on the opposition of the security services. Subsequently a brilliant Channel 4 drama. Now on DVD.
41. The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell
An entertaining and well written book, but marred by all the stuff he clearly left out.
42. What it Takes: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer
The story of the 1988 US presidential campaign.
43. SDP: The Birth, Life & Death of the SDP by Ivor Crewe & Anthony King
A wonderfully elaborate history about a political party that once promised so much but suffered an almost comically tragic end.
44. House of Cards by Michael Dobbs
The first of the trilogy, featuring the cunning chief whip Francis Urquhart and his memorable phrase, "you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment".
45. Kill the Messenger by Bernard Ingham
Bernard Ingham is a talented writer and as you would expect, very forthright.
46. When Character was King by Peggy Noonan
A story of Ronald Reagan and his years in power.
47. Gordon Brown by Tom Bower
The most vicious biography of Gordon Brown so far written. You read it and wonder how on earth this deeply flawed man was ever allowed to reach any position of power.
48. Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Set in the latter Thatcher era it centres around the life of a coke snorting, gay sex addict who actually gets to meet Mrs T. Won the Booker Prize and is about to become a BBC2 drama.
49. Jo Grimond by Michael McManus
A majesterial account of the life of the man who kept the Liberals from oblivion in the 1960s.
50. Bad Boy: The Life & Times of Lee Atwater by John Brady
A fascinating biography of the King of negative political campaigning who worked for George Bush Snr.
51. Keith Joseph by Andrew Denham & Mark Garnett
Hugely detailed biography of the man who was the Godfather of Thatcherism.
52. Reagan & Thatcher by Geoffrey Smith
An examination of the special relationship between Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan, laced with superb anecdotes.
53. Herbst '89 by Egon Krenz
Diary of the events of 1989 by the former East German leader, who succeeded Erich Honecker.
54. Mad as Hell: Revolt & the Ballot Box 1992 by Jules Witcover & Jack Germond
An entertaining account of the 1992 US presidential election campaign which saw Bill Clinton triumph over George Bush.
55. All's Fair by James Carville & Mary Matalin
Carville and Matalin are married but were on opposite sides during the 1992 presidential campaign, advising Clinton and Bush. Somehow their relationship survived.
56. Glimmers of Twilight - Joe Haines
Harold Wilson's former press secretary makes some astonishing revelations and allegations about the relationship between Wilson and Marcia Falkender.
57. Lloyd George: War Leader by John Grigg
The final tome in this wonderful four book biography about the life of Lloyd George.
58. As it Seemed to Me by John Cole
Hondootedly a riveting account of his years as BBC Political editor by the former Guardian journalist.
59. Whose Broad Stripes & Bright Stars: The Trivial Pursuit of the Presidency 1988
An account of the 1988 US presidential campaign which saw George Bush beat Michael Dukakis.
60. Mandarin by Sir Nicholas Henderson
The diaries of one of the most eminent British diplomats of the late twentieth century. In some ways quite an undiplomatic book.
61. My Falkland Days by Sir Rex Hunt
A brilliant autobiography by the former Falkland Islands governor at the time of the Argentinian invasion.
62. Das Herz Schlaegt Links by Oskar Lafontaine
A typically forthright book by the lost leader of the German left and former Minister President of the Saarland.
63. Trial by Conspiracy by Jonathan Boyd-Hunt
Boyd-Hunt' s painstaking research alleges there was a media conspiracy against Neil Hamilton and that he was innocent of the charges Fayed made against him.
64. The Road to Number 10: From Bonar Law to Tony Blair by Alan Watkins
A mammoth book about the path taken by each PM since 1945 to get to the ultimate political office. A superb and well researched book.
65. Winston's War by Michael Dobbs
First of the tetrology of novels with Winston Churchill as the main character. Dobbs has started a new genre in historical fiction which works surprisingly well.
66. Right from the Start by Lord Roberts of Conwy
Charming autobiography by the former Welsh Office Minister and Granddaddy of the Welsh Conservative Party.
67. 51st State by Peter Preston
Former Guardian editor imagine how Britain might become a 51st State of the United States. Far fetched but somehow he makes it seem just that little bit feasible.
68. The Giles Radice Diaries
The former Labour MP gives a saringly honest account of Labour's years out of power.
69. Black Book by Sara Keays
Cecil Parkinson's former amour writes a salacious novel about the Black Book in which whips record the transgressions of their fellow MPs.
70. Toward Prosperity by Roger Douglas
Roger Douglas pioneered privatisation in New Zealand and his thinking is still influential the world over.
71. A Parliamentary Affair - Edwina Currie
Edwina's novels are highly readble and enjoyable, with a fair degree of bonking thrown in, it has to be said. This and its sequel, A Woman's Place are undoubtedly the best.
72. Changing Trains by Steve Norris
A funny and entertaining account of his life in politics prior to 1997.
73. Guilty Men: Conservative Decline & Fall 1992-1997 by Hywel Williams
An uncomfortable read for many Conservatives, this book details just how awful the period of 1992-97 really was.
74. Palace of Enchantments by Douglas Hurd
Hurd's best novels were written in the 1960s and 1970s and have all been recently re-released. This one features a junior Foreign office minister who is desperate to become Foreign Secretary.
75. Too Nice to be a Tory by Jo-Anne Nadler
Sort of a Tory version of John O'Farrell's THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER, Nadler provides a very personal account of her journey from Tory Teenager to Tory 'rock chick'.