From Face the Nation moderator and contributing editor for The Atlantic John Dickerson come the stories behind the stories of the most memorable moments in American presidential campaign history.
The stakes are high. The characters full of striving and ego. Presidential campaigns are a contest for control of power in the most powerful country on earth. The battle of ideas has a clear end, with winners and losers, and along the way there are sharp turning points-primaries, debates, conventions, and scandals that squeeze candidates into emergency action, frantic grasping, and heroic gambles. As Mike Murphy the political strategist put it, "Campaigns are like war without bullets."
Whistlestop tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems. At the bar at the end of a campaign day, these are the stories reporters rehash for themselves and embellish for newcomers. In addition to the familiar tales, Whistlestop also remembers the forgotten stories about the bruising and reckless campaigns of the nineteenth century when the combatants believed the consequences included the fate of the republic itself. Some of the most modern-feeling elements of the American presidential campaign were born before the roads were paved and electric lights lit the convention halls-or there were convention halls at all.
Whistlestop is a ride through the American campaign history with one of its most enthusiastic conductors guiding you through the landmarks along the way.
Excellent tour through history
I wish my hostory teachers and professors had been this enlightening and entertaining. John makes the facts come to life. His love for the subjects, his passion, knowledge, and ability to tie events together to paint the bigger picture make this book a joy to read and return to time an time again. I’ve given it to political junkies and history buffs alike. I love the Whistlestop Podcast which, if you’ve not downloaded andlistened to, you must. It is a treat!
On becoming pre-eminent in his field
I found this book to be excellent. Admittedly a minor political and history junkie, these stories were right up my alley. The skill and talent with which Mr. Dickinson (along with the help of many) makes it very enjoyable, interesting and even fun to read.
Having watched him on television for some years now, I try to never miss. Especially his commentaries. His facility with the language, care for the nation and sense of decorum make him an example of what the level of public discourse should be.
I also enjoy his wit which I would like to see and hear more of. Glib does not necessarily mean poor John.
Please write more, although I can’t imagine where you’ll find the time.