Monday, March 30, 2015

BELIEVER by David Axelrod

David Axelrod helped engineer the ascent of Barack Obama after working on many campaigns, including Hillary Clinton's. As a former columnist for the Chicago Tribune, he became senior strategist for the Obama campaign, and then senior advisor to the president. Now, in his memoir BELIEVER, he looks back at his forty years in politics with a clear memory of conversations and events behind the scenes, no doubt augmented by notes or diary entries made in anticipation of writing this book. He also reads it on audio, with the same level headed tone that characterized his job in the White House. The picture he paints is one of faith and optimism in his message and ideals within the gamesmanship that is Washington politics. Getting things done requires compromise, and that's difficult when compromise is perceived as weakness. Congressional earmarks, stalled legislation, fabricated scandals, back office backstabbing: these are just a few of the challenges to be endured or negotiated around in the game where reelections seem, unfortunately, to be what matters most. And then there was John Edwards. Axelrod relives his entire life history, with a speechwriter's knack for editing out (or slimming down) what's not important or interesting. So it ends up being a narrative that listeners, regardless of political affiliation, would enjoy hearing.

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