The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election

By DAN BALZ and HAYNES JOHNSON

Political junkies who’ve had to get by lately on stories of stalled health care reform, used car trade-ins, and beer at the White House will find the fix they crave in The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. Veteran Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Haynes Johnson team up for this exhaustively researched, objective, and lively account of the journey from the New Hampshire primary to Inauguration Day. Focusing on the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, the authors show how the unlikely, inspiring, and downright annoying pieces of the marathon contest came together. Don’t look for newsmaking revelations. This book is about perspective. The authors — who in addition to quoting all the key players draw on unnamed sources and leaked memos and emails — do succeed in exposing some private, telling moments. They show Clinton informing her campaign manager (and longtime friend) Patti Solis Doyle by email that she’s being pushed aside. In another email, Sarah Palin gleefully agrees to give a speech accusing Obama of hanging out with terrorists. “Yes, yes, yes,” she writes. “Pls let me say this!!!” For the most part, Obama and his team come off looking focused and cohesive (a portrayal consistent with that in Richard Wolff’s election book, Renegade). Meanwhile, infighting and strategic blunders continually trip up his more experienced rivals. The authors even give a plausible answer to the question many have asked since McCain tapped Palin as his running mate: “What was he thinking?”

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