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Alpha Dogs is the story of the men from an enormously influential campaign business called Sawyer Miller who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard Nixon's to George W. Bush's. David Sawyer was a New England aristocrat with dreams of a career as a filmmaker; Scott Miller, the son of an Ohio shoe salesman, had a knack for copywriting. Unlikely partners, they became a political powerhouse, directing democratic revolutions from the Philippines to Chile, steering a dozen presidents and prime ministers into office, and instilling the campaign ethic in corporate giants from Coca-Cola to Apple. Long after the firm had broken up and sold out, its alumni had moved into the White House, to dozens of foreign countries, and into the offices of America's blue-chip chief executives. The men of Sawyer Miller were the Manhattan Project of spin politics: a small but extraordinary group who invented an American-style political campaigning and exported it around the world.
In this lively and engaging narrative, James Harding tells the story of a few men whose political savvy, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer greed would alter the landscape of global politics. It is a story full of office intrigue, fierce rivalries, and disastrous miscalculations. And it is the tale of how world politics became American, and how American business became political.
The rise and fall of the Sawyer Miller Group, a political consultancy firm, makes for a whirlwind look at international electioneering in this thoroughly engrossing book. The firm grew out of a partnership among the political neophytes who essentially invented the "American-style of campaigning" and served as backroom strategists in every presidential contest from Nixon to George W. Bush. Editor at TheTimes in London, Harding draws on over 200 interviews to reconstruct the behind-the-scenes history of the Sawyer Miller Group's meteoric rise to power and influence, offering an intimate look at the firm's involvement in global politics its hand in steering Corazon Aquino to power in the Philippines, its clients' successful campaigns in South America and its machinations in Chile and Israel. The author closes the main part of his narrative in the early 1990s, with the firm's crushing defeat in Peru, a company shift toward corporate clients (e.g., Coca-Cola) and an acrimonious buyout. Though Harding spends little time on domestic politics or his protagonists' personal lives, this fascinating book vividly renders political history with clear insight and rich detail.