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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  571 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated undercurrents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable rivals ever to seek the presidency in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. It was an election that played out against a backdrop of war, economic collapse, and deep pessimism about the futu ...more
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Published August 4th 2009 by Brilliance Audio (first published 2009)
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Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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.

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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Curell
A decent recap of the 2008 primaries and general election campaign.

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
Josh Liller
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lock Lockamy
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Irving Koppel
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: campaign-history
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
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
A fine account of the madness & wonder of the 2008 election. Nothing fancy, just good, solid reporting and clean, crisp writing.

I would have welcomed a somewhat more expansive framing of the race, à la Theodore White's The Making of the President books, but those are classics, and this book was the quick work of two sets of hands. I think I marginally prefer Heilemann's & Halperin's Game Change as a chronicle of the 2008 election, but I'm unable to say why exactly.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
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.
Andy Miller
This book is an account of the 2008 Presidential election. While it is well written and does not contain the "gossipy" elements of Game Change, I found that it did not add to your understanding of the 2008 campaign if you had closely followed the election through newspapers and online sources such as Politico

Of course, I did love the ending of the book!
Mary Gail O'Dea
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great narrative on the 2008 election in the tradition of historian Teddy White. Not a deep, political theory kind of thing but a good read about primarily Obama, Clinton, McCain, and -- who can forget, as much as we would like to -- Sarah Palin. These are good storytellers and its a good story to tell.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read for all the political junkies out there. Although the election has been covered so exhaustively already that for those who followed closely, this book may not provide a whole lot of new information that you didn't already know. But it was still great to read, and to re-live the process.
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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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