Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
All but one GOP candidate released a book during this election cycle - Rick Santorum's last and only book came out in 2006. So what did voters learn about the candidates—their biographies, their politics, their vision for the country—through more than just the news stories and blog posts and 140-character updates?
Mitt Romney — No Apology: The Case for American Greatness — 106,000 copies
Page count: 336
Selected passage: "The world is a safer place when America is strong. Ronald Reagan remarked that 'of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.'"
Dedication: "To Allie, Joe, Thomas, Chloe, Nick, Mia, Nate, Grace, Wyatt, Owen, Nash, Soleil, Parker, Miles, Jonathan, and all of Ann's and my grandchildren yet unborn."
Fun Fact: No Apology opens with an anecdote about a young Romney pursuing arduous yardwork. "I hate to weed," is the first sentence of the first chapter.
Ron Paul — Liberty Defined — 38,000 copies
Page count: 352
Selected passage: "While the middle class is being destroyed, the poor suffer, the justly rich are being looted, and the unjustly rich are getting richer. The wealth of the country has fallen into the hands of a few at the expense of the many."
Dedication: "This book is dedicated to the great intellectuals of freedom who taught and inspired me and so many others: Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Leonard E. Read, Murray N. Rothbard, and Hans F. Sennholz."
Fun Fact: Paul goes through "50 essential issues that affect our freedom" in alphabetical order, from "Abortion" to "Zionism."
Herman Cain (suspended)— This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House — 30,000 copies
Page count: 240
Selected passage: "I didn't grow up wanting to be president of the United States. I grew up po', which is even worse than being poor."
Dedication: "To my wife, Gloria, for her unwavering support, patience, and sacrifice. To Jerry and Deborah Strober, for their expert and professional assistance. To all of my staff at The New Voice, who worked hard to make this project a reality."
Fun fact: Gold is Herman Cain's "power color."
Rick Perry — Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington — 27,000 copies
Page count: 240
Selected passage: "America is great. Yet for some in our nation, to make such a statement is considered arrogant, close-minded, or jingoistic—the kind of things said by cowboys, as if it is a bad thing to be a cowboy."
Dedication: This book is dedicated to the great founders of this country and each generation of American patriots since who have understood that freedom is worth fighting for, and even dying for. To all the warriors who have poured out their blood on the altar of freedom, who have run to the sound of guns because of devotion to country, I salute you. America is free because you were courageous.
Fun fact: Newt Gingrich wrote the foreword.
Newt Gingrich — A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters — 12,000 copies
Page count: 264
Selected passage: "The stakes for self-government could not be higher. If the Supreme Court usurps the power to define marriage, then the American people will have truly lost the right to rule themselves."
Dedication: "To the first-generation Americans, who remind us again and again that America remains the last best hope of mankind."
Fun Fact: A Nation Like No Other is Gingrich's 17th work of nonfiction.
Rick Santorum - It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good - 14,000 copies
Page count: 475
Fun Fact: Dedications and selected passages were hard to come by for the It's a Free Country team, because Santorum's book was not available in either of the lower Manhattan Barnes & Noble stores we tried. Santorum is also the only GOP candidate to not have released a book during this election cycle.
Michele Bachmann — Core of Conviction: My Story (Released 11/21/2011)
Page count: 215
Selected passage: "By the end of October 2009, Speaker Pelosi and her House majority finally had their health-care bill—their legislative Frankenstein...Meanwhile, outside the dark castle, House Republicans met to discuss our counterstrategy."
Dedication: "To the loves of my life: Marcus, Lucas, Harrison, Elise, Caroline, Sophia, twenty-three wonderful foster children, our parents."
Fun Fact: Bachmann's book features several pages of photographs, ranging from Bachmann as a child in her Easter dress to a congresswoman eating ice cream with an awkward-looking George W. Bush in mid-bite.