Here are some of my favorites – let me know about yours.
- Paul T. David, et al., The Politics of National Party Conventions, Vintage Books: 1964 – This is a condensed Brookings Institution Study that provides a comprehensive analytical account of the nominating conventions from 1832 to 1960. (There is a 1972 update.)
- Douglas E. Egerton, Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and the Election that Brought on the Civil War, Bloomsbury Press: 2010– an excellent account of the presidential election of 1860, including Lincoln’s suprise nomination at the Republican Convention and the five “Democratic Party” conventions, which – as southern fire-eaters had planned – split the Democratic Party, ensured Lincoln’s election, and provided the excuse for succession.
- Ralph G. Martin, Ballots & Bandwagons: The Exciting Events behind Five Major Party Conventions, Rand McNally & Co., 1964 – very interesting accounts of the Republican Conventions of 1900, 1912, and 1920 and the Democratic Conventions of 1932 and 1956.
- Steve Neal, Happy Days are Here Again: The 1932 Democratic Convention, the Emergence of FDR – and How America Was Changed Forever, William Morrow: 2004 – it’s a fascinating story because FDR needed 2/3 – and people including Al Smith, William Randolph Hearst, and Harry Byrd didn’t want him to get it.
- Norman Mailer, Miami and The Siege of Chicago, Signet: 1968 – A good first hand account of the 1968 conventions and one of many on the debacle that was the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago.
- Richard Reeves, Convention, Hardcourt Brace: 1977 – the 1976 Convention, including wrangling for credentials.
- Jeff Berman, The Magic Number: Inside Obama’s Chase for the Presidential Nomination, Ordway House: 2012 – Obama’s chief delegate counter provides a fascinating account of the 2012 race, including a behind the scenes look at the Denver convention.
- Stan M. Haynes, The First American Political Conventions: Transforming Presidential Nominations, 1832-1872, McFarland: 2012 – A good overview – political parties were more fluid in the 19th Century, the vast majority of these conventions took place in Baltimore, and watch out for pickpockets.