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4 great political books you've never heard of

Historians weigh in on the best books about elections that make 2012 look tame.

3. 'Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928,' by Michael McGerr

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This terrific book digs deep into the newspapers and political papers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to explain a fundamental change in our political style: the demise of a raucous, highly participatory, partisan, and sometimes corrupt political culture and the rise of a new system that valued independent thinking, policy issues, and objectivity. Although there's a hint of nostalgia in McGerr's lament of passing of the old politics, and the lower levels of voter turnout and citizen engagement that followed, it also recognizes the benefits of the new style. It is not a jeremiad about contemporary political life but a penetrating historical analysis of how our political culture came to be.

David Greenberg, author of "Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image."

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