By The Beast

Here We Go

Why We Can’t Get Enough of Political Tell-Alls

The Comey memoir is not the first—and likely won’t be the last—book that seeks to explain these tumultuous political times.


By The Beast

Images from Eirik Solheim, Michael Vadon, Gage Skidmore, FBI

In normal times, a memoir on leadership by a former Federal Bureau of Investigations director wouldn’t send jaws dropping to the floor and drive the news cycle for days. But, as even the most cursory glance at the headlines will reveal, we are not living in normal times in American politics.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, the James B. Comey memoir that hits the shelves on April 17, has been hailed as one of the most anticipated books releases of the year. In it, the former FBI director finally gets to lead the narrative, in his own words, about the controversial events that engulfed the 2016 election, the chaos reigning inside the Trump White House, and the circumstances he says led the president to fire him last year. Fueling the buzz is the fact that Comey’s explosive tell-all reportedly touches on many of those only-in-2018 storylines that dominate the news today, but might have seemed far-fetched for even the craziest political thriller a few years ago. There’s the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a president described as having a penchant for serial mistreatment of both women and the truth, and, of course, the infamous alleged “Pee Tape” involving Trump and Russian prostitutes.

In perhaps the least shocking news related to the book’s release, Trump is fuming, and making his fury known on Twitter. But, in typical 2018 fashion, ire over the book — and the blitz of interviews Comey is doing to promote it — isn’t limited to Trump and his inner circle. Hillary Clinton supporters are livid over the former FBI director’s latest publicity tour—and his acknowledgement that his belief that the Democratic nominee would likely win might have influenced his decision to publicly announce that he was reopening an investigation into her email servers just days before the vote. Some FBI agents are furious about the memoir and Comey’s promotional book tour, too.

Given the reactions, it’s no surprise that the book is expected to fly off the shelves — both online and IRL. Publisher Macmillan says it ordered an eye-popping 850,000 copies for its first run and the memoir is currently  #1 on’s best-sellers list. But while its debut is making a major splash, A Higher Loyalty is far from the first political book of the Trump era to turn heads and drive sales. If the onslaught of titles released in the last year and sky-high sales are any indication, Americans have a big appetite for books that break down these tumultuous political times and help explain what just might have been the craziest and nontraditional elections in history and the unusual period of governing that’s followed. Here are some additional titles on how (and why) we got here that you can add to your queue once you’re done with Comey’s book — or while you’re waiting for your back-ordered copy to arrive.

Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House: This bombshell by Michael Wolff came under fire for factual errors and the author’s controversial reporting tactics. But a mix of White House access and juicy gossip made it an instant best-seller.  

What Happened: Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton gives her account of her historic bid and ruminates where the country goes from here in this book looking back at the campaign.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign: Relive every twist and turn of 2016 in this deeply reported campaign post-mortem by political reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.

The Wilderness: It can feel like distant history, but there was a time just a few short years ago when more than a dozen Republicans were vying for the party’s nomination — most of whom seemed far likelier to prevail than the current president. Go inside the early months of the GOP primary that led to Trump as the nominee in this e-book from McKay Coppins.

Understanding Trump: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a White House ally and defender, shares his two cents about what makes Trump tick.

Hillbilly Elegy: Unlike the other selections on this list, this memoir from JD Vance isn’t specifically about the 2016 campaign or the personalities that dominated it. But many have said his exploration of life and economic hardship in the rust belt helps explain some of the social and political  undercurrents that led to Trump’s win.

Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Nationalist Uprising Any study of Trump’s improbable rise — and policy goals charted at the start of his administration — would be incomplete without a close look at former campaign and White House adviser Steve Bannon, who many saw as the architect of the president’s win.

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