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Get to Know the Democratic Candidates

One of the ways to get to know presidential nominees is to read their books. Because, as the last few elections have shown, writing a book is basically a prerequisite to the Oval Office. Here is a sampling of books by the 2020 democratic nominees to help narrow down who’ll get your vote. A few of these books are more memoir than policy-based, which is helpful in getting a feel for the nominees’ characters.


The Speech

By Bernie Sanders

In December 2010, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave an eight-and-a-half-hour speech on the Senate floor. He talked about the economy, pointing out how the middle class was collapsing under the weight and power of the rich, and how poverty was rising rapidly. It struck a nerve, with streaming traffic crashing the server and huge telephone response clogging the senator’s office lines. Here, the speech is published as a call for action to rile up the middle class to save itself.



Promise Me, Dad

By Joe Biden

Promise Me, Dad is Vice President Joe Biden’s heart-wrenching tale of the year that followed making a promise to his son, Beau, after his son’s malignant brain tumor diagnosis. He traveled more than a hundred thousand miles in that year, crossing the globe to deal with any crisis that arose, and had to balance his duties as vice president and his duties as a father.


Shortest Way Home

By Peter Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s story is unique. He grew up in northern Indiana, alongside the old factories and never-ending freight trains. He went to Harvard and Oxford and became an expert in grocery pricing. And then he came back home to revitalize the once-prosperous industrial city. He was the nation’s youngest elected mayor, served in Afghanistan as a Navy Officer, and came out in a local newspaper editorial. He’s taking the classic image of “politician” and turning it on its head by being true to himself and doing what he believes to be right and just, and he shares it all in Shortest Way Home.


Discover the inspiring stories of these former Democratic candidates:


Dealing Death and Drugs

By Beto O’Rourke and Susie Byrd

O’Rourke suspended his presidential campaign on November 1, 2019.

Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke realized in 2008 that the War on Drugs didn’t—and doesn’t—work. His stance is that prohibition has created a massively profitable black market, and drug control doesn’t stand a chance. In Dealing Death and Drugs, he looks into the business model of drug trafficking, identifies the numerous lives lost in the “business,” and proposes to end prohibition on marijuana.



By Cory Booker

Booker suspended his presidential campaign on January 13, 2020.

Cory Booker shares his optimistic view of togetherness in United. The New Jersey senator’s views on major issues close to his heart—crime, race, mass incarceration, and environmental justice—are based in hope and the ability to overcome struggle and despair. He says we all must remember and love our neighbors if we want to get any change to happen.


The Truths We Told

By Kamala Harris

Harris withdrew her campaign for the Democratic nomination on December 3, 2019.

Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants, has always lived in the world of social justice—her parents met as activists in the civil rights movement. She’s worked as a prosecutor, deputy district attorney, District Attorney for San Francisco, and chief law enforcement officer of California before becoming a United States Senator. The Truths We Hold is Harris’s story and also the story of everyone who came and struggled before her. She brings her truth to the table.


An Unlikely Journey

By Julian Castro

Castro withdrew his campaign for the Democratic nomination on January 2, 2020.

In An Unlikely Journey, Julian Castro candidly shares his story: born to unmarried parents, with a twin brother, into a poverty-stricken neighborhood. He and his brother made their way into politics, and Castro followed in President Barack Obama’s footsteps as the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention before serving as Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. His story is one that easily resonates with anyone who wants a fresher face to be the face of politics.



Ashley Holstrom is a book person, designing them and writing about them for Book Riot. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color.