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

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

3.8 21
by Dan Balz, Haynes Johnson
     
 

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The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated under-currents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. It was an election that played out against a back-drop of wars, a failing economy, and deep

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Overview

The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated under-currents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. It was an election that played out against a back-drop of wars, a failing economy, and deep pessimism about the future.

Editorial Reviews

Ted Widmer
…an impressive effort delivered by two seasoned Washington reporters…The Battle for America boldly asserts its own importance in its title, and unlike many such pronouncements, it largely delivers. Through a judicious blend of facts, anecdotes, close-ups and wide-angle shots, it retells the story of the rise of a politician who was by no means foreordained to win the presidency…thanks to this book, we have a pretty good sense of where we are and how we got here.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
…makes for engaging reading—for both politics addicts interested in small new details and the more casual reader interested in a broad, savvy overview of the run-up to a historic election…if the authors fail to reframe the election in any significant new way, their retrospective does prove useful in reminding us…of the daunting odds that Mr. Obama overcame to win the White House in the first place.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Balz and Johnson offer an incredibly detailed but concise account of the 2008 presidential election, landing on every highlight of the campaign—the debates, Sarah Palin's blunders and the Obama victory celebration in Grant Park. The authors present clear and unbiased interviews with each of the prime candidates as well as behind the scenes accounts of the ups, downs and incessant bickering that made the election so riveting. Dick Hill brings an investigative and theatrical tone to the work; his focused and authoritative delivery draws listeners into the story and earns their trust. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 3). (Aug.)
Randy James
Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson ... capture the momentous contest in a polished account refreshingly free of last year's breathless sound bites, pundit insta-reaction or fixation on trifling gaffes ... an evenhanded and comprehensive account of the race....
Time
Kirkus Reviews
A superior piece of political reportage and interpretation by Washington Post writer Balz (co-author: Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival, 1996) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Johnson (Journalism/Univ. of Maryland; The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism, 2005, etc.). By this account, the 2008 presidential campaign began in 2005 "Though George W. Bush no longer was on the ballot," write the authors, "his shadow hovered over all that followed." One of the things that undid Republican candidate John McCain, they note, was his firm support for the deeply unpopular Iraq War, support that he acknowledged as a political liability. It didn't help that McCain had gotten ever closer to Bush, and that his campaign had adopted Rovian tactics that were nasty and often unfair, both to primary opponents such as Mitt Romney and to his Democratic foe, Barack Obama. Meanwhile, the likely Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, made several critical errors during the campaign, many of which would seem to fall under the rubric of underestimating both Obama and the mood of the electorate, which wanted real change. There are a few surprises here, among them the authors' careful exposition of how McCain came to choose Sarah Palin. One motivation was youth, another folksiness in the wake of McCain's inability to remember how many residences he had-which ruled out Romney as running mate, since, in a time of economic turmoil, "Republicans could not present voters with nominees who between them owned nearly a dozen homes." Though Balz and Johnson do not write with the intimacies of Timothy Crouse or the lunacies of Hunter Thompson, their account is engrossingall the same. Although we all know how things turned out, the authors know how to work a cliffhanger, and, as they effectively demonstrate, things could have turned out differently at any number of turns. Essential for watchers of politics and a model for similar electoral analyses in the future. Agent: Flip Brophy/Sterling Lord Literistic

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410420367
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
11/18/2009
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
720
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are saying about this

George Stephanopoulos
Magisterial.... Captures the thrill of the campaign and its meaning. Balz and Johnson are the true heirs to Teddy White.... (George Stephanopoulos, ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos")
From the Publisher
Kirkus Review
"A superior piece of political reportage and interpretation...Essential for watchers of politics and a model for similar electoral analyses in the future."

Booklist Review
Even readers who followed the election closely will find revelations and new perspectives in this gripping account of a fascinating election season. — Vanessa Bush

New York Times Review
"Makes for engaging reading—for both politics addicts interested in small new details and the more casual reader interested in a broad, savvy overview of the run-up to a historic election." —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Time Magazine Review
"Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson...capture the momentous contest in a polished account refreshingly free of last year's breathless sound bites, pundit insta-reaction or fixation on trifling gaffes...an evenhanded and comprehensive account of the race..." —Randy James

Los Angeles Times Review
"Balz and Johnson's material is rich and built upon extensive firsthand interviews... [filled] with details that range from poignant to chilling." —Art Winslow.

Other Praise:

"The classic political campaign of our time has its classic retelling now in Haynes Johnson's and Dan Balz's Battle for America 2008. In addition to the compelling narrative of the events we remember, they have, through their post-election reporting, solved almost all the mysteries about what was happening behind the scenes in the Obama, Clinton, and McCain camps." —David S. Broder, Washington Post

"Magisterial...Captures the thrill of the campaign and its meaning. Balz and JOhnson are the true heirs to Teddy White..." —George Stephanopoulos. ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos

"It's not often that you take a nonfiction book about politics with you on a summer vacation—unless you're having trouble sleeping. But you should take The Battle for America 2008...It's fast-paced and beach-worthy, as good a page turner as any mystery thriller." —Al Kamen, Washington Post

"...a riveting account, combining big-picture analysis, important revelations and intriguing anecdotes." —Roger Simon, Politico

"...told masterfully and fluidly...by two of the best political journalists of this or any era...stocked with scoops and original insights from an incredible campaign—a must-read for political junkies." —Rick Klein, ABC News

"Buy it. Keep it on your shelf. This is a book you want to keep for awhile and savor." —Chris Matthews, Hardball MSNBC

"Every four years there's one great book written about a presidential campaign. For those of us who grew up with Teddy White, it's always exciting when we find that book. I think this is the one." —Joe Scarborough, "Morning Joe" MSNBC

"...extremely well-reported history of the 2008 presidential campaign...There are plenty of scoops..." —Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic

"Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson report a lot of new behind-the-scenes details, so the story feels fresh. What feels familiar are the problems Sen. Obama faced on the campaign trail, which mirror the ones President Obama faces today in selling health care reform." — John Dickerson, Slate.com.

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