Politics and Prose: Top 7 Politicians Moonlighting as Fiction Writers

From monsters to warfronts, these politicians try their hands at fiction.

Dec. 7, 2011 -- intro: One often essential quality for those who wish to woo the masses and garner votes is to have a way with words.

For these six politicians, that quality manifests itself in fiction writing. From a former president to a current candidate, these pols write sometimes popular and often salacious tales of intrigue. Though we've yet to find a founding father who picked up a pen in the name of literature, Benjamin Franklin once wrote a letter to a friend titled "On Choosing a Mistress." That, however, was nonfiction. Read on to find out what officially untrue narratives have come out of Capitol Hill.

quicklist: 1title: Newt Gingrich - '1945' url: 15104563text: This presidential hopeful turns out to be a prolific writer. His career in fiction began in 1996 with a book he wrote with William Fortschen, called "1945." To give you a taste of just how "ahem" spicy this novel gets, in the prologue comes this line about a character the authors call a "pouting sex kitten:" "Playfully, to drive home the potential loss, she bit his shoulder, then kissed it better."

Gingrich and Fortschen published another novel less than a month ago called "The Battle of the Crater." The novel is based on a Civil War battle in the summer of 1864.

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quicklist: 2title: Jimmy Carter - 'The Hornet's Nest'url: 15104563text: Jimmy Carter has done some pretty remarkable things since he left the Oval Office: He volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, he won the Nobel Peace Prize and he wrote a children's book. "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer" tells the tale of a disabled boy who finds common ground with a monster from whom all the other children flee. The former president's daughter, Amy, illustrated long-haired boy and big green monster for the book.

Carter has also published a volume of poetry and a historical fiction novel, called "The Hornet's Nest." It contains the only sex scene written by a former president that we know of. But then, Newt Gingrich could be next.

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quicklist: 3title: Jim Webb - 'Lost Soldiers'url: 15104563text: Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has written six works of fiction, in addition to his two nonfiction books. Many of the themes in his fiction stem from his experiences as a Vietnam veteran. In "Lost Soldiers," Webb's protagonist is a veteran back in Vietnam, collecting the remains of fallen soldiers.

Webb's books contain some controversial passages that his opponent, former Sen. George Allen, R-Va., tried to use against him in 2006. At that time, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported that the Allen campaign released a statement saying, "Webb's novels disturbingly and consistently – indeed, almost uniformly – portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted or some combination of these. In novel after novel, Webb assigns his female characters base, negative characteristics. In thousands of pages of fiction penned by Webb, there are few if any strong, admirable women or positive female role models.'"

For their part, the Webb campaign called the attacks "'sad and pathetic.'" Webb won the election by less than 10,000 votes, about .4 percent of ballots cast. He has said he will not run for re-election in 2013.

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quicklist: 4title: Winston Churchill – 'Savrola'url: 15104563text: Winston Churchill wrote many political history books, but "Savrola" is the only fiction he ever crafted. This tale never received strong acclaim, but it does give insight into Churchill's earlier values and ideals. He wrote this book when he was merely 24 years old. Critics believe that he laid out his political aspirations in this novel, and according to the Winston Churchill center, "It is the day-dream of a man of action." Churchill allowed the book to remain out of print from 1915 to 1956. The Churchill center suggests he may have considered this book to be hopelessly romantic and juvenile in light of later accomplishments.

With its pictorial descriptions and leading metaphors, "Savrola" remains a first attempt at fame from a man who would become a leading politician and historical figure.

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quicklist: 5title: Barbara Boxer - 'A Time to Run'url: 15104563text: On top of serving for Senate in California since 1992, Barbara Boxer has also tried her hand at fiction writing. She published her first novel, "A Time to Run," in 2005 and her second novel, "Blind Trust," in 2009. "A Time to Run," which offers a glimpse into Boxer's world view, is a national bestseller.

According to the New York Times, this novel's "plot clicks along with professional, even clinical, precision," although the Times criticized the character development and prose.

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quicklist: 6title: Peter King - 'A Terrible Beauty'url: 15104563text: Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., wrote three novels loosely based on his experience in public office: "Terrible Beauty," "Deliver Us From Evil" and "Vale of Tears." King played a significant role in the Irish peace process in the 1980s and 1990s. His first novel, "Terrible Beauty," paints a picture of the history of the current peace accord in Northern Ireland, and why it means so much to its people. It tells the story of Bernadette Hanlon, an Irish housewife who struggles to keep her children safe from the violence that surrounds them while her husband is in jail for his involvement in the world of the IRA, keeping King safely out of the marital bedroom.

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quicklist: 7title: Al Franken - 'Why Not Me?'url: 15104563text: The Minnesota senator published a political parody, "Why Not Me?," nine months before the Bush-Gore presidential election. It follows a fictionalized version of Franken on his journey to the White House. The hot issue he campaigns on? ATM fees.

Franken has also written several works of nonfiction, such as "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," and most recently, "The Truth (With Jokes)."

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