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Our Reading List

Here are some books GovTrack staff members have read and recommend!

About the Beginnings of the Nation

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution, by Richard Beeman

Easily one of our most favorite books, Plain, Honest Men tells the story not of the nation but of the people who came together to create it.

1776, by David McCullough

A narrative of just the year 1776, the year the nation entered into its war for independence. It’s a long book, but we could’t put it down.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham

This biography of one of the most important men in American history looks at what made Thomas Jefferson the man that he was.

About the Beginnings of Congress

The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

This one was so good we bought it for each other.

Inventing Congress: Origins & Establishment Of First Federal Congress

Inventing Congress is a scholarly publication on the precedents set early on in the history of Congress. It’s a bit technical — so probably best if you already know how Congress works.

Other Books

GovTrack user Dennis Bevan suggests Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro: "This book not only details the way the modern Senate really works, but also tells the story of how LBJ made it that way. A fascinating read."

GovTrack user pattigoke suggests The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy.

GovTrack user Nola Elson recomments Dark Money by Jane Mayer.

Open Government Data

We didn’t read this book — we wrote it. This book by’s founder discusses the history and principles of the open government data movement.