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

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  398 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The bestselling, truly gripping account of 2008's landmark election, updated through 2009

The election of 2008 shattered political barriers and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency. Now, Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, two of America's most respected journalists, offer the first complete picture of th
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Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
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Ernie.tedeschi
Aug 11, 2009 Ernie.tedeschi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ernie.tedeschi by: Michael
The Battle for America, 2008 promised to be a insider's dish of scoops and memo dumps from the extraordinary 2008 election. While there was some of this -- for example, Johnson and Balz publish the email the McCain campaign sent out authorizing the Ayers attacks on Obama, proving it wasn't the result of a "rogue" Palin -- the vast majority of the book is a narrative account of the primaries and general election that will be familiar to anyone like me who was engrossed in the politics of 2008.

Ma
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Daniel Solera
I have already alluded in my review for Heilemann and Halperin’s 2010 book Game Change, also about the 2008 presidential election, that I would give five stars to any book about this topic, even if written by a village idiot. Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson’s account of the historic battle, published last year, is no exception. Though I acknowledge that writing a review about this book based on its own merits is the correct thing to do, it is inevitable that I will end up simply comparing it to Game ...more
jeffrey
I listened to the audio version, and it took a few discs before I became engrossed in the narration. But, eventually I 'couldn't put it down', even knowing the outcome.
Andrew Crouch
Superficial but informative history of the 2008 presidential election process, covering both the primaries and the general campaign. The authors evoke the fevered, manic pace of the primaries and capture the frustration and futility of the candidates who were battling not only each other, but the preconceived notions of the electorate, and the crumbling mess left by the Bush II administration. All of this is occurring in the dawning age of the 24/7 news cycle where not only every word but every ...more
Lock Lockamy
While at first I gave this book a 5, on reconsidering I struggled over that last half-point.

Personally, I absolutely loved it. I found the 2008 election to be engrossing and inspirational; a reaffirmation of what it means to be American.

But then, my guy won.

That's not to say this book is in any way partisan. It's not. At all. It is almost perfectly documentary, reporting on fact with the barest dash of author opinion (and always duly noted when so). Historians on both sides of the aisle would be
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Emily
I got stopped on the subway by a random French guy who saw my book and said "IT IS A GOOD STORY!" Haha.

I'm not sure what to say about this. It's good. I liked the first half better though, because once Obama gets to the general election with John McCain, I feel like I knew more of the details (since I follow the news) and it wasn't as fresh. That was when I started to wish there was more inside scoop. (Although the copies of the emails written to Sarah Palin about "palling around with terrorist
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Ruth
This is a brilliantly readable account of what was indeed an extraordinary election in America in 2008. It starts from the beginning, with the candidates announcing their intentions to run, thoroughly discussing the Democratic and Republican campaigns to get the nomination, and then the presidential campaign. The Democratic nomination campaigns quickly became a two-person race, between the well-known Hillary Clinton and the newer face of Barack Obama. (While I do think Obama is terrific and I wa ...more
Irving Koppel

From its inception with the announcements of candidacies to its denouement with the inauguration,the 2008 presidential campaign is
brilliantly portrayed in "The Battle for America,2008.Balz and Johnson,
both old hands at political rapportage,have fashioned a novel-like ac
count of a most fascinating event in American history. Giving fair
coverage to both parties and to all major candidates,we are reminded of
the ups and downs we all experienced during that campaign.

Once again we saw Obama announcin
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Josh Liller
A good and extensive look at the 2008 presidential election: views and concerns of American voters, the candidates, who won and why.

It is very much helped by having been researched and written as starting when the campaign and election were happening rather than entirely after it was over. The authors also manage to remain seemingly unbiased.

There is a strong focus paid toward the "Big 3" of Obama, Hillary, and McCain which leads to some things being skimmed over like Obama choosing Biden as his
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Ryan Curell
A decent recap of the 2008 primaries and general election campaign.

Pros:
The book does an excellent job highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of Obama and HRC's campaigns for his and her party's nomination, especially chronicling the fall of Clinton and her once-inevitable nomination and Obama's historic rise to the Democratic ticket.

It fairly dissects the campaign strategy of all major candidates and concisely covers how major stories - e.g., Rev. Wright, Sarah Palin's interviews with Katie
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BooksAndTea
A narrative about the election of 2008. It wasn't quite as popular as "Game Change" and it's not hard to see why. Something about Balz's writing is very off-putting--I found it very hard to read through, as well as his 2012 e-book. It might be because he's really a newspaper guy and not a book writing, but I'm not sure.

Still, like GC it goes through the 2008 election, with an emphasis on the Democratic side of things, where an epic showdown took place between the Clintons and Obama. McCain and
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Donna
Sep 28, 2009 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political junkies
Shelves: current-events
They say that journalism is the first draft of history. This is the second draft. Balz and Johnson are affiliated with the Washington Post and have done an admirable job of capturing the excitement of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. They keep the Democrat and Republican stories separate during the primary season and then go forward with the Obama/McCain general election.

This is not just a recap of the newspapers, however. The authors did have private interviews about their project with the
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Chris Kaufman
This was a very in-depth look at the 2008 election and the candidates. I think it was a tad over-priced, and I enjoyed GAME CHANGE by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann more. I learned some new, interesting things from reading this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes politics (that would be me!)
Mike
A decent narrative account of the 2008 election. While the authors had access to a number of insiders from both the Republican and Democratic campaigns, I didn't find anything especially surprising revealed through those interviews. Most of this is information that has been previously reported.

The book's primary virtue is in taking disparate threads and accounts and weaving them together into a tight, streamlined narrative. There is some examination of the election's political and social signif
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Amanda
This was just a really good book about a fascinating election. The journalists went into another level of depth from Game Change and struck a balance between behind-the-scenes happenings and a reminder of the public words and actions of all the candidates. As someone who lived through the election and paid reasonable attention I still got something out of this book and was again touched by Obama's oratory and the remembrance of the passion he inspired through his campaign. I also thought the jou ...more
John
I had some misgivings that it would be largely the same story as Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, but they complement each other nicely. The other book goes into greater detail of the Clinton - Obama primary, as well as behind-the-scenes of The Palin Problem; this one isn't quite as "detailed", instead covering the Republican nomination to show how McCain was left as "last candidate standing", presaging his weaknesses in the fall campaign.
Jim Blessing
I listened to this book on a long trip through the great plains. Being a political junky it was a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed living through!
Amy
While reading "1948: Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America" by David Pietrusza, I noticed how appropos the statement "The more things change, the more they remain the same" really is. There were a lot of parallels between the 1948 race and the most recent presidential election, which were both amusing and depressing to read. So after reading about Harry Truman, I was prompted to pick up this book to compare and contrast the two elections. This was a good, well- ...more
Dan
A good "instant history" of the 2008 campaign. The first half -- on the Democratic primaries -- is by far the best. Having lived through all of this day to day, much of the narrative was familiar, but the main premise is fascinating: HRC never knew what hit her. Knowing that they couldn't win an old-style nomination battle, the Obama campaign completely changed the field of play to caucuses and the Internet. By the time the Clinton team figured it out, the numbers were insurmountable even though ...more
Michael Kallan
2008 was quite an extraordinary election, and the book started off strongly. However, in the end it provided much greater detail on events in 2007 (prior to any votes being cast) and often gave short shrift to the results of most of the primary results (post-Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina). Additionally, I found four errors in the book (the most galling was on page 171, when it said that Ted Kennedy sought the Democratic nomination against Jimmy Carter in 1976, when it was actually 1980 ...more
Darren
I enjoyed the book Game Change very much so I had high hopes for this account of the blockbuster 2008 US Presidential election and the book lived up to it. I thought the title was a bit cheesy, almost something Jon Stewart would mock.

This account of the election nicely drilled down into voter intentions, sways in support from Clinton to Obama and from McCain/Palin to Obama. The authors touched base throughout the election with undecided and committed voters and explained the shifts which was a n
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Chrissy
This book explained a lot about the election 2008. Joe the Plumber, the South Carolina debate, the 3 a.m. phone call. At the time, I could barely keep up with soundbites and Newsweek articles because we were in the chaos of a move and busy life with children. I couldn't be as interested in politics then, but now that I'm making a little more time to read, this book helped me catch up on what I missed the first time around. Even if you're not interested in politics, this book tells a great story ...more
Joe
Of course this book will receive numerous comparisons to Game Change but I'll try not to as they are two separate books. Both do cover the 2008 presidential campaign quite well but while Game Change thrives in behind-the-scenes and anonymous sources, Battle for America 2008 is much more like a series of long newspaper/magazine articles.

I gave this three stars as its mostly a rehash of everything you know but its nice to relive the election every now and then. The book works as something that is
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Peter
Amazing that a full-length book about the election has such little material that I haven't read previoulsy. I also wished that there was more info about the other candidates; the Democratic story is all Obama and Clinton. However, it was good to read the whole story at one time to get the flow with the perspective of a bit of time. I thought the analysis at the end regarding the significance of the election and the impact of forces like media, primary schedule, fund raising was well done.
Marion
Balz and Johnson have written a very compelling narrative covering the presidential campaigns and election of 2008. Their book is well-organized and they do a great job of laying out the strategies, philosophies, issues, and events throughout the campaign season. I was completely enraptured. I enjoyed looking back at the campaign season, learning "insider" information about the campaigns. Balz and Johnson do a great job of putting the election into social, historical, and political context.
Cristobal
what's the saying ... if you want to enjoy the ballet, don't sit too close to the show. or something like that. it's fascinating to learn about a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on in a campaign and the human dynamic that's involved. after reading this book, it's almost unnerving to think about all the chaos and petty frictions that go on from within the candidate's inner circle. solid read, can probably be a bit slow if politics isn't your thing though.
Elle
Very withdrawn, historical overview of the election. There wasn't too much here that was revelatory (as someone who enjoys following the fucked up drama of American elections), but I did gain a new appreciation for Clinton and her campaign. The narrative didn't really pick up until Palin showed up (natch). Frankly, I think the '08 election was way too comically insane for such a distanced presentation, but the book was interesting--and, amazingly, unbiased--nonetheless.
Michael
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. Although the authors go into no great detail on any single issue, they do an excellent job of viewing the 2008 presidential election from a macro level. In time, this book will rightfully take its place alongside Theodore H. White's The Making of the President book series. This book is required reading for political junkies.
Vicki
Of course I was following the election in 2008, so one might think that this book might be mots -- and some of it is. The authors, however, got some real inside information, so some of it was new to me. I liked having a summing up of the whole thing with a little bit of time perspective -- though obviously not a lot! A good read for those at all interested in politics.
Dorothy Kim
This book was amazing. You felt you were right there for every bus ride and every conversation. It was a quick page turner. One of the best campaign books I have read in a long time. The one criticism is how much time the authors spent writing about Obama versus the other candidates. I wish the writing had been as descriptive of the other candidates as Obama.
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“What distinguished Obama was his determination not to wait until he had forged a longer political record of his achievement, and the historic conjunction of events that made possible so unlikely a candidacy.” 1 likes
“But history is replete with potential candidates for the presidency who waited too long rather than example of people who ran too soon." - David Axelrod” 1 likes
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