Lifestyle & Entertainment

9 fascinating books about the greatest friendships in politics

President Barack Obama Vice President Joe Biden

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It’s the end of an era.

Tuesday night, US President Barack Obama will say goodbye to the American public during his Farewell Address in Chicago.

Come Inauguration Day, the US won’t just be bidding the 44th president adieu. We’ll also be saying au revoir to the incredible friendship between Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden.

So, if you want to beat the Obama/Biden bromance memes withdrawal, make sure to check out these books.

Amazon Books senior editor Erin Kodicek created this list of the best books about surprising, strange, and often heartwarming political friendships.

Here are her picks, listed in no particular order, with descriptions in her own words:

‘Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage’ by Barney Frank

“When former congressman Barney Frank’s book, ‘Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage’ was released in 2015, he visited the Amazon offices and a colleague asked him what I thought was a fascinating question: Publicly, politicians seem to constantly be at each other’s throats, but is a lot of this for show? Privately, are some of the same people we see tearing into each other on our television screens actually friends? The answer, remarkably, was yes.

“Dubious? These eight books provide further proof of this phenomenon, one that has been in evidence since the Founding Fathers bickered, and yet somehow birthed a nation.”

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‘Lafayette in the Somewhat United States’ by Sarah Vowell

“Why would a young French aristocrat venture to our shores to join George Washington’s army and fight in the Revolutionary War? He came for the glory! He came because he believed in American ideals! He came to escape his in-laws! But, mainly it was for the Enlightenment ideas that were unevenly embraced by many of his fellow comrades.

“Sarah Vowell employs her signature acerbic wit in examining this contentious time in American history. But mainly ‘Lafayette in the Somewhat United States’ is a story of friendships: between Washington and Lafayette, between the Americans and their French allies, and between Lafayette and the American people.”

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‘Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America’ by Stephen F Knott and Tony Williams

“Speaking of Washington, the guy had a lot of friends. But his relationship to Alexander Hamilton was decidedly cooler than it was with Lafayette, though arguably more monumental.

“You probably wouldn’t find these two throwing back a few pints at the local pub; Washington was too busy being virtuous, Hamilton too busy preening. But together they defied opposition from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, foiled attempts to squander hard-won freedoms, and set the stage for a new world superpower.”

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‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin

“May 18th, 1860 was a bad day for William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. The seasoned politicians were flabbergasted to be bested at the Republican National Convention by some prairie lawyer who had only served one term in congress.

“These same men could have caused quite a headache when Abraham Lincoln was ultimately elected, but the prairie lawyer kept his rivals close, giving them cabinet positions, earning their respect, and forging a friendship with Seward that would buoy him throughout his presidency.”

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‘Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship’ by Jon Meacham

“As Hitler’s reign of terror swept through Europe largely unchecked, Winston Churchill finally stepped up and said, enough. He needed help, however, and it took more than a little coaxing to convince the famously aloof Franklin D. Roosevelt to join forces.

“Once he did, well, the rest is history. Turns out helping to deliver the world from one of the darkest moments in its history is quite the bonding experience, and the two spent an inordinate amount of the time together in service of this goal (113 days!).”

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‘Odd Couples: The Great Political Pairings of Modern Britain’ by Giles Radice

“‘When gridlock threatens, as it too often does these days, we all hope that our elected officials will rise to the occasion, set their differences aside, and find a way to govern.

“In ‘Odd Couples: The Great Political Pairings of Modern Britain,’ Giles Radice espouses the virtues of compromise, pointing to specific moments in British history where politicians on opposite sides of the ideological fence were able to work together and propel their country forward.”

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‘Harold and Jack: The Remarkable Friendship of Prime Minister MacMillan and President Kennedy’ by Christopher Sandford

“When you’re two world leaders facing nuclear annihilation, it helps to get along. Still, by many accounts, President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan had little in common save a healthy amount of intestinal fortitude.

“Thankfully that was enough to mitigate the impact of extraordinary political upheaval — a time that saw the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the erection of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis … Christopher Sandford talks about how these two very different men came together to avert a nuclear crisis, and developed an unlikely friendship in the process.”

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‘Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked’ by Chris Matthews

“You couldn’t get much more ideologically opposite than Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan. Tip was the highest ranking Democrat when Reagan handily won the election against Jimmy Carter in 1980, and they didn’t agree on anything: welfare, military operations, entitlement programs, and whether or not to order the chicken or fish at the White House correspondents’ dinner.

“Despite this, the two genuinely liked and respected each other, and together they managed to salvage Social Security, and nudge Northern Ireland towards peace.”

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‘Love and War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters, and One Louisiana Home’ by James Carville and Mary Matalin

“My family and I are on opposite sides of the political fence and, during the volatile election process, even agreeing to disagree wasn’t enough; we had to agree to not discuss politics, period.

“That’s why I find it so extraordinary that rabid Republican pundit Mary Matalin and rabid Democratic pundit James Carville have been happily married for 20-plus years. There is no way they are avoiding talking politics over coffee and Pop-Tarts in the morning. So if they can get along, and raise two children to boot, surely the rest of us can. Right?”

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