Sunday, January 03, 2010

Book Review: Battle for America

The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election, by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson. NY: Viking, 2009.

Balz and Johnson provide an unemotional and low-key history of the 2008 presidential election. The book starts off with the main characters and the mood of the country. The middle part covers first the Democratic primary and then the Republican, providing an overview of the candidates, their campaigns and the personalities involved. The final section is on the general election. The conversational tone and detail made it a very good read. The authors had extensive access to the campaigns and give in-depth, behind the scenes information. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone wanting a non-partisan history of the 2008 presidential campaign.

There were some interesting Pennsylvania references. Our primary is covered in chapter 15 (pp 200-214, “Politics in Black and White”). There are a couple of interesting notes.

From p. 295, discussing two Bucks County residents there was a mention of their neighbor:

The neighbor, Bob Macauley, a sixty-nine-year-old investment banker started out as a Democrat, then turned to the Republicans after what he viewed as the disastrous Jimmy Carter presidency. That “entire calculus changed with Ronald Reagan.” At that time, Mcacauley was serving on Philadelphia’s economic committee as a Democrat.

I don’t quite understand how that works but there is probably some logic behind it somewhere.

On p. 392, in the middle of a lengthy listing of acknowledgements, I found this:
We are also indebted to Representative John Lewis of Georgia, Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, Governors Ed Rendell and Janet Napolitano of Arizona, for their insights, …

Rendell and Sestak, both Clinton supporters, are the only Pennsylvania politicians in the acknowledgements. Sestak, who seems to have taken over the airwaves, appearing on television and radio frequently, appears to have infiltrated the print empire as well!

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