There are periods of time when it is necessary that the facts as known be written down. Years later is the time historians can come along and put the facts together. This is what history is about. Someone goes back and looks at the data recorded close to the incident and pieces it to the big picture.

Authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have done just that with the story behind the 2008 race for the presidency. They are political correspondents. John Heilemann works for the New Yorker magazine and is an award winning journalist and author of many books such as one on Bill Gates. Mark Halperin is the senior political analysis for Time magazine. He has covered six presidential elections. These two men have the right to view the last presidential race as skilled writers.

It is laid out in a linear fashion. The story starts back in 2004 with the emergence of a junior senator who seeks the help of a senator from New York. Obama wanted to have the knowledge Hillary had and seemed willing to learn. Hillary with her ego was willing to teach him.

Behind Hillary was her husband who seemed to have an ego that was still unsatisfied.

The question of whether Obama was ready is handled in this book as well as was Hillary ready. Questions are raised and allowed to play out on a story line type presentation. Each chapter looks at the players separately. Clinton is featured in one. Then Obama is featured in the next in the same time period. John Edwards, who you recall was featured in the 2008 democratic convention as a player, is dealt with in chapter seven. McCain comes up much later in the story. The book starts out with the two major Democratic players. Hillary is being couched in the beginning by a frustrated Bill. She soon drops him from the committee and steps out on her own.

Obama on the other hand is indecisive and would rather talk than take action. You get the feeling that he wanted the nomination but was afraid of something that he couldn’t articulate. He would make a statement and then lecture around the decision he was faced with. But he seemed to have better handlers than Hillary had. She had baggage and Obama had none that could be attacked. His mantra was change over experience, it seemed. People, at that time, had enough of things as they have always been.

That may have been one reason for the problem of McCain as the Republican nominee. The book offers its own insightful opinion on the issue. Also as to why he felt he needed a young woman on the ticket with him.

The book ends with Obama putting forth the invite to Hillary to be Secretary of State. The feeling it gave me was that it was a payback to Hillary for her stepping aside when she sensed she was not the one the Democrats wanted for 2008. But the book offers enough suggestions for the reader to form his own conclusion.

This book is useful for historians in the years to come when they look back and write about this period of time.

Now is the time to read up on the issues and the people who matter in your life. Dane plans in the weeks ahead to look at some books that feature just that issue. Contact him at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *