Campaign season has a way of raising everyone’s blood pressure, inflaming partisan passions and cultural resentments. How can we step back from a ferocious news cycle and find enduring wisdom on how to approach the task of choosing a national leader? CT asked Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a veteran of three Republican presidential administrations, to pick 5 books to read before voting in a presidential election.
Pilgrim’s Way, by John Buchan
Pilgrim’s Way is a stirring, exquisitely written memoir. Born in Scotland in 1875, Buchan attended Oxford, served in Parliament, and was Governor General of Canada. (He was also a novelist.) His descriptions of contemporaries are affectionate, insightful, and uplifting. “Public life,” he wrote, “is regarded as the crown of a career, and to young men it is the worthiest ambition. Politics is still the greatest and the most honourable adventure.” Buchan, a Christian, believed in the nobility of politics—and understood both its possibilities and its limitations.
Miracle at Philadelphia, by Catherine Drinker Bowen
A riveting, nuanced account of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. With vivid personality portraits, Bowen makes you feel the epic drama. We learn about the intense and complicated negotiations and how close the effort came to failing. Miracle at Philadelphia will help Americans better understand how the lessons of 1787 still apply. To those who view compromise as weakness, Bowen replies that “in the Constitutional Convention the spirit of compromise reigned in grace and glory; as Washington presided, it sat on his shoulder like the dove.”
Abraham Lincoln, by Lord Charnwood1