The Abbess of Crewe, Muriel Spark
This 1974 novel is set in an English abbey, and was written by a Scottish novelist who lived, at various times, in Zimbabwe and Italy. So what's it doing on a list of American political novels? The story of a paranoid nun who bugs her abbey with secret recording devices, Spark's book is a satire of the Watergate scandal, and it gets closer to explaining the darkest days of Richard Nixon's presidency than just about any other novel. Whether it takes place in a Washington hotel or a convent in England, politics is politics.