Recently I was contacted by a young candidate who plans to run for office in Romania. Bright. Articulate. Feet on the ground. A man who already knows what he wants to accomplish if he wins.

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During our first conversation he asked me a very good question…what books should he read to better understand the art of running for office, political combat…books that inform, inspire, motivate—ones that will keep him in the company of the better angles.

I’ll share with you what I shared with him.

Nobody should be running for office without first reading the Art of War, by Sun Tzu. It’s the bible of warfare, any kind, be it politics, real war, athletics, or competition in the marketplace. I once did a series of lectures at the New York Military Academy and noticed that many of the cadets carried the book to class.

The Prince, by Machiavelli, is also imperative for those running for office. The book contains useful and very practical advice on determining your route to power, how to conquer and hold new conquests, how to deal with internal insurrection, create new alliances, and maintain power.

Then there are a series of books about figures that profoundly affected the United States whose stories are worth reading and remembering.

Three books by Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson. The Path to Power, Master of the Senate, and The Passage of Power. The books are full of lessons about acquiring power, keeping it, inventing it, pretending you have it when you don’t and how to win an election when losing is not an option.

Craig Shirley’s book about Ronald Reagan’s multi-year effort to bend the Republican party to his will, and his one electoral defeat in route to the White House provides a compelling story of determination, grit, and iron will—all essential commodities for those running for office.

Two books about one of my favorite American politicians—Robert Kennedy. Few Senators have so profoundly influenced so many generations of people, a man still regarded as a hero by those who knew him. Robert Kennedy and his Times by Arthur Schlesinger, and Robert Kennedy, by Evan Thomas are both entertaining and worthy reads about an iconic figure.

Finally, a book by Dick Morris, Power Plays. Dick is prolific writer and an authority on convincing voters to give you the power to govern they way they live, and keeping it once you have it.

There are other books that I could recommend. If you are running for office, feel free to email me at [email protected] if you’d like other recommendations.

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Stay tuned for more on the art of Running for Office and How to Win an Election.

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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