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Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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“The resurgence of the Democratic Party in the past two election cycles is one of the most important—and least understood—political stories of the new century. Ari Berman tells that tale with reportorial verve, a keen eye, a sharp pen, and a wealth of fresh insight. If you want to understand the grassroots revival of progressivism in America, and also the new challenges and aching disappointments that have come along with it, this is the book to read.” —John Heilemann, national political columnist for New York magazine and coauthor of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of Lifetime
“Ari Berman has written a political narrative so revelatory and exhilarating it kept me up nights reading. Herding Donkeys is some of the freshest and incisive political reporting out there, and Berman, who has the keen eye of a novelist, is one heck of a storyteller.” —Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America
“Herding Donkeys is essential to understanding how the Democratic Party came back from the dead in 2006 and 2008. But it’s especially good at explaining what happened to all of Barack Obama’s grassroots energy. This is a hopeful but also sobering tale, told with strong inside reporting.” —Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One
“Herding Donkeys is political reporting at its finest. In his spirited debut, Ari Berman takes readers inside the back rooms and living rooms where politics actually happens, but his novel vantage point doesn’t prevent him from rendering the tough but fair judgments every great political reporter needs to make. This is a ripping account of the Democratic Party through an intense period of historic transformation.” —Michael Tomasky, author of Hillary’s Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign
“An intriguing behind-the-scenes look at how the Obama campaign built on the grassroots movement that had catapulted Dean to prominence . . . Engaging and balanced—a stand-out book.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With a keen appreciation of political strategy as well as an eye for telling anecdote and amusing detail, Ari Berman tells the amazing story of the Democratic party’s revival. Berman’s reporting vindicates the fifty-state strategy of Howard Dean and the determined organizing of Barack Obama—and shows why grassroots activism is still the most potent force for change in America.” —Joe Conason, author of Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth
“Ari Berman tells the rollicking and rousing story of the fight for the soul of the Democratic party that has reshaped American politics. Full of riveting revelations, vivid reporting, and a cast of colorful characters, Herding Donkeys captures the exhilaration of the grassroots insurgency that Howard Dean launched—and Obama seized—to realign our political map. At a time of disillusionment with establishment politics, this book is solace for the soul. It is a timely reminder that the grit of tenacious organizers and antiestablishment politicians in red, blue, and purple states alike offers Hope 2.0.” —Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation
About the Author
ARI BERMAN is a political correspondent for The Nation and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Dean, an outsiders insider, is juxtaposed against Rahm Emmanual who plays the part of an insiders insider. The two are the Democrats' yin and yang. This book is told from Deans perspective as well as the organizers who learned campaigning and new internet tools with Dean and never stopped until Democrats took Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. Occasionally the chronology in the book is confusing as characters such as Dean then Obama organizer Jeremy Bird bounces from New Hampshire to South Carolina to Ohio to Washington. Herding Donkeys captures much of the zeitgeist of a time that has passed and hints at what has become of the forces that propelled Obama in 2008. It's an look at what political organizers do in places like Colorado Springs and Florence, SC before the big money and big media take hold of a movement and many of the brash young organizers move to Washington to replenish the ranks of the dreaded establishment.
Berman's achievement is that he has written a new kind of campaign book.Read more ›
Behind that force of nature, however, was Howard Dean, who motivated thousands of volunteers to rally behind their candidate and stand up for Change!!
Berman's descriptions of people and places make the book a page turner. I could not wait to read what happened in Idaho, Indiana, Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and was intrigued by the 200 people he interviewed. I was also given much needed insights as to how the political system works and fails. Ultimately Howard Dean who launched a successful 50 state strategy, does not get acknowledged, nor lands a position in the new Administration.
The last part of the book describes the challenges that Obama has faced and how
his administration did not support the constituency that elected him and the consequences which may be obvious in this coming election.
However, the book is upbeat, informative, and I am looking forward to a sequel. Nice job, Berman!
Perhaps the best thing about Berman's approach is his use of language. This book tackles a usually dry topic in an easy to read manner. Regardless of the reader's level of participation in politics, Berman's explanations and analysis are easily understood and might even encourage readers to get involved at the local level.
Perhaps today's Democratic Party leaders should take some time to read this analysis. Who knows? They might regroup and rebuild!
From the beginning, the book captures your attention, as Berman goes thru the red states: Texas, Indiana, Colorado, North Carolina and meets the people who want change and work hard to accomplish it. From the back roads, to the inner cities, to the middle class mansions, all walks of life come together to turn this election in their favor.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way Ari gave the political facts a novel-like flavor. It was engaging from the beginning. You felt you were in those living rooms, making signs, putting up posters, calling your friends. He gives vivid descriptions of the organizers and their sometimes unconventional environments. After each chapter, I was totally looking forward to the next state and the people I would meet there.
Also, Berman gives clear and articulate insights as to why Obama's popularity with the grass roots movement has hit some rough patches.
There is humor, insight, political savvy in this book. I recommend it for anyone who cares about their country, their government, and how making a change is possible.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an exceptional purchase, arriving in a timely fashion.Published 4 months ago by danny j. henderson
Brief mention of the history of NCDP story 2006-2010. Big question, what do we do now? I'm interested in feedback.Published 11 months ago by WHO
Subtitled "The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," it is primarily a history of the significance of Howard Dean in the recent developments... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Barbara Frederick
Kind of like "Game Change", but more historical and instructive. I carried it around and read a few pages at a time waiting for appointments, etc. Enjoyed it!Published on July 1, 2013 by olmamma
If you want to know how political campaigns are managed from the grass roots, you'll enjoy the account of the work of Gov. Howard Dean in the Democrat Party. Read morePublished on January 16, 2013 by J. Duran
I'm a Democrat but out of it. I didn't know Howard Dean headed the DNC. In fact, I was confusing the DNC and the DLC. I discovered I am completely in agreement with Howard Dean.Published on September 6, 2012 by Rod
If you are liberal/Democrat and totally outraged by what Obama has done since being elected then this book is not for you. Read morePublished on October 30, 2011 by PaulArt