It appears that the conveyor belt of books about Barack Obama’s 2008 quest for the White House finally may be coming to a halt with the release this month of Game Change, a behind-the-scenes page-turner by the veteran political journalists John Heilemann, of New York magazine, and Mark Halperin, of Time. Before we get hit by the next wave of books about Obama’s first year in office—Bob Woodward, for example, has got one in the works—here’s a recap of some of the top election reads of 2009.
Title A Long Time Coming (Jan ’09)
Author Evan Thomas, Newsweek’s editor-at-large
Slant The expanded version of Newsweek’s 50,000-word campaign opus published in the magazine shortly after the election. Insightful at the time, with some revealing glimpses behind the campaign curtain, it now feels a bit dated.
Best for Non-Newsweek readers needing a campaign ’08 refresher course
Title How Barack Obama Won (Jan ’09)
Author Chuck Todd, NBC political director and White House correspondent
Slant An impartial analysis that sidesteps the campaign drama. Features charts of electorate breakdowns in all 50 states.
Best for Hardcore political junkies who can’t get enough of the “inside baseball” aspects of politics
Title Renegade: The Making of a President (Jun ’09)
Author Richard Wolffe, MSNBC political analyst, former Newsweek reporter
Slant A dramatic, glowing narrative of Obama on the campaign trail. Exclusive interviews are no surprise—this book was Obama’s idea, after all.
Best for Obama fans who like to read novelistic nonfiction
Title The Battle for America 2008 (Aug ’09)
Author Dan Balz, political correspondent for The Washington Post, and Haynes Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Slant Follows all of the major candidates in ’08. Heavy on insider gossip and leaks from the losing campaigns—namely Clinton’s and McCain’s.
Best for Election addicts craving insight and juicy details from two old pros
Title ¡Obámanos! (Oct ’09)
Author Hendrik Hertzberg, political analyst for The New Yorker
Slant A collection of astute essays and blogs previously published in the magazine or on its website. A nod back to the real-time election coverage, with a Talk-of-the-Town flair and a leftie bent.
Best for Liberal, non–New Yorker readers who can’t get enough Bush bashing
Title Destiny Calling (Oct ’09)
Author Charles M. Madigan, writer-in-residence at Roosevelt University, covered politics for United Press and the Chicago Tribune
Slant Campaign ’08 through the eyes of the voters. The author weaves in his own opinions, which sometimes meander along and distract from the election drama.
Best for Fans of Studs Terkel’s oral histories
Title The Audacity to Win (Nov ’09)
Author David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager
Slant Insider account of the campaign, straight from the lead jockey’s mouth. A tick-tock retelling, frank about some mistakes but certainly no tell-all.
Best for Other campaign managers—as a self-help book
Riding the Lit Wave
Dreams from My Father
The Audacity of Hope
Obama: From Promise to Power
Yes We Can
The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality
Jerome R. Corsi
The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate
Obama Unmasked: Did Slick Hollywood Handlers Create the Perfect Candidate?
Floyd Brown and Lee Troxler
The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama’s War on American Values
See “election reads”
IN THE WORKS
In addition to Bob Woodward’s new book, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, signed a contract with Knopf Publishing Group for a tome on race and Obama’s campaign, while the magazine’s Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, looks at the president’s first year in office. Joining them is Jodi Kantor, of The New York Times, whose biography on the first family will be published by Little, Brown, and the Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, who says he’s got an Obama book coming soon. Also of note is the forthcoming release by Edward McClelland, a Chicago contributor, who takes an in-depth look at how the city of Chicago shaped Obama’s politics.