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Mark Stein's books include How the States Got Their Shapes, American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why, and Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs & Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present. He wrote the screenplay for the Steve Martin/Goldie Hawn film, Housesitter, and plays that have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville and elsewhere.




Coming in February 2020


The Presidential Fringe places the story of our republic beneath an unexpected lens: that of fringe candidates for president of the United States. It explores how their quest for our nation's highest office helped to amplify voices otherwise quashed during their day. It includes the efforts of true pioneers in the quest for social equality in our country: the first woman to run for president, Victoria Woodhull in 1872; the first African American to run for president, George E. Taylor in 1904; and the first openly gay cross-dressing candidate for president, Joan Jett Blakk in 1992.


But The Presidential Fringe also takes a look at those who would jest their way into the Oval Office, from comedians such as Will Rogers and Gracie Allen to Pat Paulsen and Stephen Colbert. Along the way, it shows how even seemingly zany candidates, such as "Live Forever" Jones, Vegetarian Party candidate John Maxwell, Flying Saucer Party candidate Gabriel Green, or, most recently, Vermin Supreme, provide extraordinary insights into who we were when they ran for president and how we became who we are today. Ultimately, The Presidential Fringe reveals that it was often precisely these fringe candidates who planted seeds that sprouted to enable later candidates to win the Oval Office.


"Informative and entertaining, forcing American readers to take some glances into what at times is an unflattering mirror."—Kirkus Reviews


"With a clear and discerning eye, Stein writes of all these questers as he invites readers to take underlying concerns for a free and democratic society seriously."  —starred review, Booklist