At Longleaf Politics, we cover the making of North Carolina history in real time. But books are better suited to putting everything into historical context.

Here are 10 books that everyone interested in North Carolina politics should consider reading.

Note: This post includes affiliate links, meaning that Longleaf Politics will make a tiny bit of money if you use them to buy the product (or if you buy something else on Amazon after using the link). We’re just trying to keep the lights on. Feel free to get them from your local library, instead.

The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics

Legendary News & Observer columnist Rob Christensen’s book traces North Carolina’s modern history and the pendulum its politics have traveled. It attempts to answer the core question: “How can a state be represented by Jesse Helms and John Edwards at the same time?”

See it on Amazon here.

Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans

North Carolina Republicans weren’t always in power. John Hood’s biography of North Carolina’s Republican governor from the 1980s sheds light on the party’s roots and gives us a clue of where Republicans are coming from.

See it on Amazon here.

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

Tim Tyson’s remarkable book blends history and memoir in a description of North Carolina’s turbulent civil rights era.

See it on Amazon here.

North Carolina Through Four Centuries

This offering Pre-eminent historian William S. Powell is a literal textbook, but if you’re looking for an academic approach to North Carolina politics, you might start here.

See it on Amazon here.

Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers

This collection of 21 essays shows how the state’s history and politics have influenced North Carolina’s portrayal in literature.

See it on Amazon here.

Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte

Tom Hanchett’s book traces Charlotte’s path from a segregation to integration and back again and sets up the current stage of North Carolina urban development.

See it on Amazon here.

The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory

Tom Eamon’s 2014 book starts with World War II and is one of the first to capture the Republican takeover of government.

See it on Amazon here.

Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy

The Wilmington coup d’état is perhaps the worst chapter of North Carolina’s history but crucial to understand and continues to inform how we approach historical figures.

See it on Amazon here.

North Carolina beyond the Connected Age: The Tar Heel State in 2050

This book from N.C. State economist Michael Walden gives us clues of where North Carolina’s economy is going as the state’s population booms.

See it on Amazon here.

The New Politics of North Carolina

Published in 2008, just as North Carolina cast its electoral votes for Barack Obama, this collection is a prescient look at a purple state.

See it on Amazon here.


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