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08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail Paperback – January 27, 2009
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
About the Author
MICHAEL CROWLEY is a Senior Editor at The New Republic and a frequent political commentator of MSNBC.
DAN GOLDMAN is the artist of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Shooting War.
Top customer reviews
For instance, the pig-wearing-lipstick dust up, Sarah Palin's wardrobe costs, the fist bump of the Obamas, and Hillary drinking boilermakers in a Pennsylvania bar are small, yet telling points about a campaign that just couldn't be predicted and, in the end, defied convention wisdom by seeing a man of color capture the White House.
I think it's important for potential readers not to expect too much of this little book. While it does offer a capsule of the campaign and showcases its highs (and lows), the format really doesn't offer much opportunity for the authors to analyze the meaning behind the action. For that we will have to wait for a more traditional campaign chronicle in the mold of Theodore White's "The Making of the President" books or Richard Ben Cramer's brilliant "What It Takes: The Way to the White House," which is to my mind the very best campaign analysis ever written.
That said, I recommend "08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail." Not only is it a good reminder for those of us who followed the campaign closely, but it is a solid orientation for those of us who may not have tuned in very closely. In that regard, this little graphic novel might make a good supplemental history text for high school students studying the democratic process.
On those merits, the book is great for those who were on the blogs every minute; every twist and turn is recounted in beautiful black and white pop art. Nothing new will be revealed by the book, but it has a very entertaining nostalgia factor.
One criticism, however, is that about halfway through, the narrative stops explaining things. Someone new to the campaign, or ten years from now, will have trouble understanding the context or the figures (e.g., Gov. Bill Richardson does not get a caption despite being drawn in such a way that his beard makes him look fundamentally different from his primary race depiction; also, no caption for Sen. Edward Kennedy, who while famous to policy wonks, is not that recognizable). The implosion of the Clinton campaign, which was the subject of a fascinating review in The Atlantic, is reduced to cable television-worthy sound bites; similarly, Joe the Plumber is reduced to his celebrity and not the arguments over fiscal policy that dominated the last month of the campaign.
I would recommend this product to anyone who has the Shepard Fairey Obama poster; it's got a similar iconic and sentimental value, and is definitely worth it for those reasons.
Writer Micheal Crowley maintains his journalistic integrity by avoiding hyperbolic snark and potshots at either party while keeping a subtle wit. In the telling of campaign plays and surprises that sometimes took months to unravel, Crowley keeps the book from dragging with a rapid-fire play-by-play of a tight ballgame. Dialogue from candidates and pundits are quoted, rather than satirized and Crowley's careful editing keeps a balanced arc of the lows and highs of key players.
Likewise, Dan Goldman's graphic portrayals are unmistakably recognizable, yet never delve into political caricature. His careful control shows a pathos in his characters even at their most ruthless. As in "Shooting War", Goldman lets his panels drift into television and internet media contexts, often incorporating high contrast photo and video stills. "08" showcases Goldman's sharp design skills in weaving the narrative, key words (often used texturally) and campaign/media logos.
"08" will no doubt remain a thrilling account of the race for the 44th president long after we have settled into out new administration.
I wish they would go back and make more books like this about past elections, mainly 2000.
It is nothing hard hitting or profound. But it is a fun read with great art work. If you are going to be on air plane or sitting on a bus for a while it is a good book to take with you, then give to a friend when you are done.
I saw this book at Barnes & Nobles for almost $30. I snaped a picture on my phone and looked up on Amazon and got my copy for under $10!