Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country--And Where We Go from Here

Rate this book
The brilliant manager of Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign shows how Bernie took on the entire establishment and changed modern American politics for good.

When Jeff Weaver hopped in a car with Bernie Sanders in the summer of 1986, he had no idea the Vermont backroads would lead them all the way to the 2016 presidential campaign.

In How Bernie Won, Weaver shows how Bernie built a movement that would sweep America and inspire millions. He vowed not to run a negative campaign. He would focus on policies, not personalities. He would not be beholden to big money. He would actually make America great. Weaver also shows how they overcame significant challenges: A media that thrived on negative campaigns. A party that thrived on personalities. And a political system that thrived on big money. Weaver explains how Bernie beat them all and, in doing so, went from having little national name recognition when he entered to the race to being one of the most respected and well-known people in the world by its end--because, Weaver argues, Bernie won the race.

He moved the discussion from the concerns of the 1% to those of the 99%. He forced the Democrats to remember their populist roots. And he showed that an outsider with real ideas and ways to get them done was more popular than someone propped up by backroom political sugar daddies.

From holding bags of "Bernie buttons" and picket-stick signs, to managing thousands of campaign workers, to looking ahead to 2020, Weaver chronicles the birth of a revolution that didn't end in November 2016. It's only just begun.

400 pages, Hardcover

Published May 15, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jeff Weaver

5 books3 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
34 (29%)
4 stars
43 (37%)
3 stars
28 (24%)
2 stars
7 (6%)
1 star
2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for DH.
97 reviews3 followers
October 21, 2018
Of the many books I've read about the 2016 campaign Weaver's campaign diary stands out as the clearest and sharpest analysis of the good and the bad of it all. As Bernie's campaign advisor he retained his sincere commitment to positive change in the face of the campaign. shenanigans, corruption and cynicism. He gives the gory details of the maneuvers of the HRC campaign and the misdeeds of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is a truly despicable person. According to Weaver, being a political pro while maintaining progressive optimism is possible, despite the death grip the Hilbots still try to maintain on the Democratic Party apparatus.

Weaver is committed to reforming the Dem Party and reviving the New Deal coalition. Despite Bernie's independence he makes no mention of building a third party, which is the major omission in the book. Yes, doing so would be hard and can't begin until a sizable segment of Dems is willing to make the leap, but a little bit of background on how Bernie came to be a Dem in everything but name is worth explicating. Weaver is a shrewd dude, I don't think he will stay behind the counter of his comic book store in 2020.

A must read for understanding the significance of the Sanders campaign.
Profile Image for Hazel Bright.
980 reviews26 followers
January 12, 2019
I followed the primaries intently and was shocked at the way the Democratic party, of which I had always been a proud, almost smugly proud, member, actively thwarted the democratic process. While some of the things I witnessed are not included in this book, there are things in this book that show the Democratic party to be even worse than I thought. And then the truly terrifying final points describing the possibility of a Republican-led new Constitutional Convention that could completely strip US citizens of their rights. Interestingly, the prior book I read was "Russian Roulette," which, while compelling, was woefully uninformed about the real reasons that people did not vote for Clinton: her sneakiness, arrogance, and inherent unfairness during the primary process, which is well-documented and fairly presented in "How Bernie Won." Weaver also describes how common it is for writers like "Russian Roulette" authors Corn and Isikoff to toe the line, since the cost of bucking a major figure in a dominant party is, at minimum, career suicide.

You should read this book. Every American should. And when you do, read it alone, because you are going to be screaming.
Profile Image for Susan Bazzett-Griffith.
1,735 reviews46 followers
June 26, 2018
This book was a frustrating look back at the 2016 election that changed America forever, and changed my own life significantly. What I liked about the book-- its thorough timeline of the election and detailed accounts of the various instances of mistakes made by the campaign, dirty tactics that the media tried to ignore or even actively participated in, and, conversely, moments of victory and optimism and hope that all of us lived through and witnessed during the last 2.5 years. What I didn't like about it- eeek, I hate saying this because it feels disloyal, but I don't like Jeff Weaver's voice/writing style. He comes across as smarmy and condescending in a few chapters, which may simply be his natural personality soaking through the pages. Ultimately, people who love Bernie Sanaders will probably like this book, and people who are still unable to grasp what happened within the democratic party in 2015/2016 that pissed off so many people probably SHOULD read this book if they are actually interested in understanding. As someone who kind of changed up my whole life in 2015 to make political involvement a top priority in my life, reading this book felt almost like homework, as I'd promised myself I would read as many books about the election as possible-- still have the Comey and the Donna Brazile book to go., but I need a break before midterms, so I will guess that those will wait until after November.

3 stars- perhaps I would have given it 4 if I'd read it at an earlier point in time, but I'm starting to enjoy these post mortems less and less as the Trump administration's policies and talking points keep becoming more and more reminiscent of Nazi Germany. We could have taken a different path as a country if Sanders had been our nominee and President. It breaks my heart to think about it, especially now that we're watching children being put into internment camps and all of our environmental protections being removed. We are living in a morally and fiscally horrific time that I fear we may not be able to dig ourselves out of in my lifetime.
1,906 reviews30 followers
May 16, 2018
Jeff Weaver managed Bernie Sanders brilliant but unorthodox campaign.He gives us an insiders look at the campaign that took on historic proportions and is helping involve so many young people our future in the world of politics.A fun interesting read,
3 reviews
May 26, 2018
This book is a well written account of the inner workings of a campaign that altered the dysfunctional course of American politics. Weaver brilliantly highlights the effectiveness, foresight, and above all else, integrity of the Sanders campaign while also offering fair criticisms of himself and the campaign’s allies. He finishes by offering predictions of 2020 and future implications. A must read for anyone who was inspired by Bernie’s 2016 campaign and wishes to prepare for whoever runs in 2020.
1,111 reviews
September 10, 2018
Bernie Sanders surprised all of us in 2016. Weaver’s book, written from the perspective of the campaign manager of Bernies success, gives us lots of insights into this election that surprised all of us.

Weaver gives us a very quick overview of the life of Sanders,with, obviously, a focus on how Sanders got into politics. That brief story alone is engaging.

Weaver takes us through all of the primaries and the battles with Clinton, sometimes with more detail that only political geeks want. Weaver takes shots at many of the rules in primaries, especially the Iowa process of “real aligning” political positions. At the same time, our author has useful insights into the strengths and weaknesses of Sanders as a candidate.

Each primary gets a chapter—often with a clever name: “Stalingrad, Iowa”, “The Granite State Revolution,” “Triple Parley Craps Out in Vegas” and “Showdown in Motown.” That’s about all of the humor in the book. Working for Bernie was a serious business. According to the author, Bernie would go anywhere to campaign.

The author takes multiple shots at the Clintons, with, of course, a focus on Hillary. We learn that Hillary made 92 speeches in 2013 to 2015, with a pay out of $225,000/speech. Our author tells us how Bernie was often silenced at the Democratic convention , even though he gave a powerful speech about his values as a candidates and a person.

While our author is not hopeful about the future in politics. His calls for an “agenda based on shared aspirations” while recognizing the “unique challenges that different communities face.” P. 347.

The last two chapters of the book call for a change in politics. These chapters take up about 10% of the text. Perhaps this is the usual in the retelling of a campaign. I think another book is forthcoming. I hope so.

Profile Image for Dan Graser.
Author 4 books102 followers
May 29, 2018
Having read Clinton's summary and autopsy of the 2016 election process in her latest book, "What Happened," I decided to see what her primary party opposition had to say on the matter. This summary of Bernie's 2016 bid for the Democrat nomination from his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, covers a lot of familiar territory that is already conventional wisdom, but does deliver some interesting insight and suggestions for the future.

Obviously the title itself needs explaining, seeing as Bernie not only didn't win the election he didn't even secure the nomination. The main answer to this seeming misnomer is actually found in the final 70 or so pages of the book where Weaver discusses the process of the creation of the party platform leading up to the convention. Here the efforts of Bernie's campaign and the lasting effects of his message on the mission of the party somewhat justify Weaver's counter-intuitively grandiose title.

The summary of the primary race against Secretary Clinton is as you would expect it. There is no love lost between these two campaigns nor any love lost between Weaver and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. A lot of this is as you would expect it and does not paint a particularly flattering picture of the Clinton campaign's tactics nor the seemingly pervasive bias from the DNC. This is well-trodden ground and I can't imagine those loyal to either figure being convinced.

As mentioned earlier, where Weaver is at his most interesting is his synopsis of the platform and convention processes and his concluding remarks about suggestions for the future of the Democratic party both for the Presidential and Congressional elections in 2020. Hopefully, the notion of, "hindsight being 2020," allows for a good amount of foresight for 2020.
Profile Image for Tony.
121 reviews16 followers
January 29, 2019
If you're like me, and you watched the Bernie campaign for President in 2016 carefully, maybe even attended one of his massive rallies and/or one of his town hall meetings, then this book written by his campaign manager makes a good memento. However, it is also incredibly topical, as I write this review in Jan 2019, given that millions of people are on tenterhooks to know whether Bernie will run again for President in 2020, or whether he will pass the progressive standard to someone else. For instance, Elizabeth Warren has already declared her candidacy for 2020. She is mentioned on pages 77-78 (and briefly p.322):
"Another piece of good news came in June [2016]. Efforts to draft Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren into the race ended. MoveOn.org and Democracy for America (DFA) had joined together in an effort called Run Warren Run to promote the candidacy of Senator Warren as the progressive alternative in the Democratic race long before Bernie got in. They had hoped to demonstrate support for Warren and hired staff in Iowa and New Hampshire to begin the organizing. Both MoveOn and DFA, along with groups like Working Families Party and Friends of the Earth, would endorse Bernie during the campaign. Bernie and Elizabeth had always had a great relationship. They continue to share a deep dedication to fighting income inequality and corporate power. Given the similarity of their economic message, a Warren candidacy could have presented us with a challenge in the primaries..."
122 reviews2 followers
July 29, 2018
HOW BERNIE WON Written by Bernie Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, this is a fascinating history of the 2016 Mr Sanders' run for POTUS. What started as a serious run (at least to them, though not many others) turned out to be a neck-to-neck horserace for the Democratic nomination. And it is a fair history of the Democratic race--he touts the losses as well as the wins and Mr Weaver admits his and his campaign's errors as much as anyone else's. Also, he never stoops to pick on Mrs Clinton beyond a small degree; the emails are barely mentioned and her health is mentioned only once.
Other than cutting remarks about Mr Trump, Mr Weaver leaves the Republicans alone until the end, at which time he writes with an almost pathological hatred. An error in that the ending comes across as sour grapes.
Despite this, I recommend this book for anyone trying to make sense of the roller coaster ride that was the 2016 election.
And my liking for this book is not based on any endorsement of the stances Mr Sanders took.
Profile Image for Elaina.
4 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2019
An Enlightening Read

As someone whose greater political consciousness was awoken during Bernie’s 2016 Presidential campaign, it was interesting and enlightening to learn about what went on behind the scenes, since most of my information had been the media. Which we all know how reliable that is. At times the narrative got a little weighed down by political jargon when describing some of the caucusing and nominating processes to someone who has not studied politics. The book was strongest when talking about Bernie’s journey and message rather than the technical details (thought they were appreciated).
Profile Image for Noah Skocilich.
111 reviews6 followers
May 22, 2019
Learned a lot about how national campaigns actually work and also a lot of detail about what actually happened in the 2016 primary.
Profile Image for Monica.
256 reviews
February 11, 2023
I think I was expecting a little more from this book. I wanted the hot goss....which there was none.

I liked Jeff Weaver in 2016, because he was so adversarial on TV. If I knew he was being interviewed, I would make sure and watch it, I knew we'd be getting some funny stuff.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the 2016 Bernie campaign upended my life. In fact, as a volunteer (not staffer), I had emailed the campaign staff enough to get various permissions for things I was doing that near the end, I figured I knew what Weaver's email address was, and I was right. I emailed to offer him a nerdy T-shirt - we had printed a few dozen because the very first nationally coordinated Bernie meet-ups in August 2015 took place while we were at GenCon, a major gaming convention in Indianapolis. In the midst of 100k+ people in town, I was able to rent space and host a Bernie gathering composed of out of town gamers, and one very in-town gamer lawyer who actually worked for Mike Pence and had several bad things to say... you know what? Not the point of this review. It was a nerdy gamer shirt, Jeff Weaver owns a comic book/game store, and he happily accepted our cute little I Roll With Bernie with two twenty sided dice on it saying 20 16.

So, Weaver, at the top of the chain, couldn't really see the trees for the forest. Which makes sense. Pulling out one story from the book - A major primary day, where Arizona was called for Hillary, which was surprising. He and Bernie were at a rally in California, because campaigns don't spend time hanging around in places that are already over - it's perpetual motion. Which makes sense! It totally does. Anyhow, he's surprised, at the end of the day that people have been standing in line for hours (some stood in line until midnight) and still can't vote because thier registration disappeared.

Now for reddit people like me - we knew the weekend going in beforehand, that all canvassing had gone to paper only, the VAN got dropped because real-time overwriting was going on, and the data was being corrupted, unknown by who. And by midnight Arizona time on that Tuesday, I, like hundreds of other redditors, had bought thousands of pizza and drinks for people still waiting in line.

And that's why this was a three. His coverage of the convention even left out plenty of things going on, while still taking three chapters. And maybe that was because he is still trying to get along with the Hillary people. Which, I get that. I joined my state central committee, and my local committee, and establishment status quo dems are still the majority, and people that, if you want to get anything done, you need to work together and build coalitions, and maybe we just have to avoid all mention of Hilary just to keep moving, right?

But it doesn't make a thrilling book.
Profile Image for Bailey.
249 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2018
Personally I feel like if you are really into politics and followed the democratic primary closely a lot of this is not new or surprising. I also have the feeling if you are going to read Jeff Weaver's book about the 2016 election you are really into politics and the Bernie campaign. It did give some more insight into a lot of the campaign. It was interesting to hear about the Democratic Convention from someone who was there with Bernie. I also thought that it was interesting to hear about the issues that the campaign had with the Democratic party. It's something that a lot of Bernie supporters thought and knew somethings, but it was definitely interesting to hear about this from the campaign manager.

I did really like the last 10% of the book. I think it does a really good job at breaking down what should be done. It does a great job exploring that Bernie lost the election but he won a base. He won support. He won the party. So now a lot of the work going forward is getting the party establishment to recognize that. I think the biggest thing is to not repeat 2016. But to do that Democrats need to listen to people. They need to listen to how people are feeling about the government and the party and take that into consideration. To move forward Democrats really need to pick up were FDR and LBJ left off. I think a big part of this is to listen to Bernie and what he is saying. The big thing is that they can't cast away Bernie and his supporters.
Profile Image for Aaron.
39 reviews
June 1, 2019
Here's what you need to know about this book:

- Bernie Sanders is the most authentic, genuine and consistent politicians we had in 2016, by MILES. He and Obama will likely be the most authentic of our generation.
- The depth to which the DNC and Clinton campaign were in cahoots is absolutely astounding. It is to the level of great Shakesperean irony that Clinton didn't win, considering the degree to which she went to manipulate the process.
- Voters do not like a coronation, they want a competition. This put Bernie at an advantage.
- Future politicians should study Bernie's connection with the voters. I can't think of a politician who has connected on such a deep, intimate level economically than Bernie.
- You probably will not come across NEW information here, and Weaver gets in the weeds A LOT. I enjoy politics and I found myself skipping many sections due to the logistics of how this primary works or that delegate count matters. Which likely speaks to why the average joe isn't overly involved in politics. It's. Complicated.

This book did not make an argument for democratic socialism, and I read it as a confident capitalist. However, Bernie's message is not wrong, despite it's idealistic foundation. The wealth gap continues to grow, and history shows that the larger the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the more likely a society will implode on itself.
50 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2019
Weaver’s campaign diary/ memoir/call to action was fascinating, insightful, and and engaging read through and through.

Weaver takes us through his initial meeting with Bernie way back in the 80’s to his presidential run, and what lies beyond. I wasn’t a huge fan of Bernie Sanders during the Primaries, but was interested in his campaign and how successful it was. Weavers book did not disappoint. Anyone interested in politics, general campaign strategy, and media management should read this book. How Bernie won is packed with insights, campaign failures and successes, and analysis. Any campaign could learn a thing or two from Weaver’s experience.

What’s most impressive is the positivity in the book. Weaver has every right to be angry, frustrated, and disappointed in the DNC and maybe even HFA. There are times that does show, but for an overwhelming majority of the book, Weaver avoids negative attacks on the DNC and HFA.

I would highly encourage anyone interested in campaigns, campaign politics, 2016, and Bernie to give this book a read.
58 reviews
March 14, 2021
Setting the record straight from his unique vantage point at the head of a vast campaign that competed in every state and U.S. territory, Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver manages to tamp down expectations to simply chronicle one of the most unique presidential campaigns in recent memory. From his earliest days with the candidate, to his first moments trying to propel a little known senator to the front of a pack featuring the most well known Democrat non-incumbent in a lifetime (Clinton), we are shown the trials and challenges a insurgent campaign such as Bernie's must face and overcome to win, some expected, others not. The second half of the book reasonably reflects on this body of achievement and not-so-subtlety hints at what the nation should expect from America's foremost progressive (and Democratic Socialist) in the near future. A tale that pull no punches, but spins no yarns, Weavers succinctly explains that while Bernie and his fellow progressives may have lost the nomination battle, they are indeed winning the overall policy war against those in power today.
Profile Image for Rick Zinn.
117 reviews1 follower
February 21, 2020
I enjoy insider accounts of campaigns. There is very little of 2016 that I want to relive, ever. This is a pretty good book, I learned things about Bernie Sander I did not know, anyone who enjoys Political Science would probably enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Ailith Twinning.
649 reviews34 followers
May 30, 2018
This is about the horse race. It's a smarter version of that, but that's what it is. It's fine for what it is, but I have no interest in this.
31 reviews
March 6, 2019
notes from the campaign trail, many of Bernies campaigns to be exact!
1,321 reviews20 followers
August 31, 2019
This shares how the party created a system whereby which they wanted their selected candidate to be the nominated person. Backroom deals, thumb on scale. Swearing. Insightful.
Profile Image for Ridanwise.
117 reviews
March 23, 2020
Can't wait for Weaver's take on this current primaries... As much as my blood boils every time he describes what happened behind the scenes.
Profile Image for Andrew Shaffer.
Author 44 books1,350 followers
December 13, 2021
Campaign post-mortems are all about one thing: score settling. In this case, Weaver takes it to the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the media establishment.
232 reviews
June 22, 2022
If you want a day to day recap of the 2016 presidential primary from Bernie’s view, read this book. If you want to know how he won…read something else.
Profile Image for Amanda.
323 reviews16 followers
March 24, 2020
Four years ago, throughout the 2016 presidential election in the US, I was a loyal supporter of Bernie Sanders. Despite having little political involvement prior, in summer 2015, Bernie awakened in me a political fervor, and it has remained strong since. I read his book Our Revolution about six months after the election ended (and not at all with the results I had hoped for), then bought Jeff Weaver’s How Bernie Won and Bernie Sanders’s Where We Go From Here in 2018.

For whatever reason, I held off on reading them, but now, with the democratic primary looming just around the corner, it felt like the right time. If I’m honest, I’m hoping that by kicking off 2020 with these two books, it’ll somehow sway the country in the right direction. I hope that this time next year we’re inaugurating President Bernie Sanders.

I do admit that I’m a fan of Bernie and I agree with his politics. Indeed, that’s why I’m reading his books and books about him. However, even if you’re on the fence about him, I encourage you to read about him – including Jeff Weaver’s How Bernie Won. Regardless of your own politics, it’s an informative and thorough read that offers immense insight on what went on behind the scenes during Bernie’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Jeff Weaver and Bernie Sanders go way back, having first worked together in the political sphere in the late 1980s. Jeff helped out Bernie in his runs for Congress, and upon Bernie entering the House of Representatives in 1990, Jeff has spent many years working by his side. Fast forward to 2016: With Bernie’s decision to run for president, Jeff Weaver became his campaign manager. Throughout the following 18 months, he had an intimate knowledge of how everything came together, the hurdles they had to overcome, and why things worked out as they did.

In How Bernie Won, Jeff spends just three chapters describing his early working relationship with Bernie, from the 1980s into the 2000s. We see that, as has often been reported, Bernie’s convictions have remained constant. He’s always fought for working class people, and he’s always made himself known through old-fashioned grassroots campaigning. He’s always focused on the issues, not the personality of candidates, and has never resorted to negative ads to tear other candidates down. It’s a foundation that made him such a strong candidate in 2016 – and now again in 2020.

The rest of the book goes into immense detail on how the campaign unfolded. We get a look at who worked on the Bernie 2016 campaign, what kind of work went into it, and how media and the DNC (Democratic National Committee) played a role – generally to the intentional detriment of Bernie’s campaign. We’re reminded of how the debates went – and that there were so few – and of the dirty tricks meant to undermine Bernie’s campaign.

Then it goes into the full primary season, allowing readers to relive the election results, from Iowa and New Hampshire to California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, with exciting ups (multi-state winning streaks, huge winning numbers, thrilling upsets) and crushing downs (voter suppression and machine issues, losses in key states, misrepresentation in the media). I paid close attention during the 2016 primary – and voted for him in the Washington state caucus – but reading this book brought back all those feelings all over again.

If you want a thorough account from Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign – and with a bit more opinion-sharing than Bernie himself would ever give – then How Bernie Won is an excellent book to read. Jeff Weaver’s writing is a bit dry, and at times rather staccato and chunky, but the substance is there. Bernie supporters will certainly feel validated in reading it, but I encourage Hillary Clinton supporters and even those who voted for other candidates or didn’t vote at all to give it a read. It’ll be enlightening and perhaps make you more sympathetic to what Bernie was up against and what he was fighting for.

Now, with Bernie running again for the 2020 presidential election, I’m excited to see how it all plays out in the coming months. I hope that the roadblocks that arose during 2016 won’t be as much of a hindrance this time around, and I hope that he earns more awareness, trust, and votes. In any case, I also look forward to the next book to outline his 2020 campaign – and I hope it has the happy ending that this book’s title suggests.

* Please check out my full review on my blog, Amanda's Book Corner! *
Profile Image for Cristie Underwood.
2,275 reviews56 followers
Shelved as 'kindle'
May 14, 2018
This book was written by Bernie's Sanders campaign manager and was filled with insight into what it was like to be part of such a historic campaign. Bernie Sanders may have lost the 2016 election, but this book clearly lays out all of the ways he has changed politics forever.
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.