It’s early, we know, but the candidates are lining up and the chatter is rising — the 2012 presidential campaign is steaming into the summer more than a year ahead of the vote. It’s never too early to bone up.

Here’s a selection of books that will immerse you in the issues, the controversies and the idiocies that are bound to have a role in the distant election.


Debt: The First 5,000 Years , by David Graeber (Melville House, July)

Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street, by Tomas Sedlacek (Oxford, July)

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, by Sylvia Nasar (Simon & Schuster, Sept.).

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, by Matt Taibbi (Spiegel & Grau, Sept.)

Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon , by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (Times, May).


Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years, by Frank Bailey (Howard, May).

Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, The Bush White House, and Beyond, by Michael D. Brown and Ted Schwarz (Taylor, June).

Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America, by Ann Coulter (Crown Forum, June).

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir , by Dick Cheney (Threshold, Aug.).

The Original Argument: The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century, by Glenn Beck (Threshold, June).


The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, by Michael Shermer (Times, May)

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined , by Steven Pinker (Viking, October).

Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker (Times, Aug.)

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra F. Vogel (Oxford, July).

Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond bin Laden and 9/11, by Syed Saleem Shahzad (Pluto Press, July)

The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists, by Charles Kurzman (Oxford Univ. Press, July)

On China , by Henry Kissinger (Penguin, May)

The Post-American World (Release 2.0), by Fareed Zakaria (Norton, May).

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, by Daniel Yergin (Penguin, Sept.)

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, by David Mamet (Sentinel, June).

The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers, by Peter Tomsen (PublicAffairs, July)