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Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business Hardcover – May 13, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“James Harding’s Alpha Dogs is one of those wonderful books that takes you to a time and place you may not know much about but where life as we know it was changed in real and lasting ways. This inside story of how American-style political spin was sold to the world is a fascinating and insightful glimpse into the clockwork of global power. What’s more, it’s a great read featuring complex characters, high stakes, and drama. They’ve tried to make movies about this sort of thing but movies can’t hold a candle to the real intrigue, ambition, and plot twists that in the end impacted millions of lives.”   —David Rothkopf, author of Superclass    
“A terrific read. Long before Karl Rove and James Carville became household names, Scott Miller and David Sawyer were peddling the techniques and political snake oil of modern American campaigns to dictators, scoundrels, and earnest and courageous reformers throughout the world.  James Harding gives us an eye-opening, sobering account of the rise and fall of one of America's premier political consulting firms, and the saints and sinners it helped get elected to office. It's the rough and tumble of modern politics and the alpha dogs who made it that way.”   —Dennis W. Johnson, George Washington University, author of No Place for Amateurs:  How Political Consultants Are Reshaping American Democracy
“Since Theodore White, those who write about politics strive to shape a narrative, tell a story that makes events come alive. Most fail. James Harding succeeds. Harding sits readers at his campfire and vividly tells the story of the birth over the past three decades of modern campaign consulting firms, notably the Sawyer Miller Group, a firm that started with noble intent and ended in cynicism. Harding is a man of learning, so there is a historical frame of reference, a perspective on how those who set out to educate citizens came to manipulate them both here and abroad. But what makes this story come alive are the characters: those who speak of their early hopes and of their later depravity; those who quit and those whose lives end in tragedy those who know they have had a pernicious effect on politics; and those in designer suits who don’t have a clue or don’t much care. The two most frequently cited words of the 2008 presidential campaign—“change” and “authenticity”—owe to the frustration of Americans with the spin and manipulation so commonplace in campaigns. If you want to understand why, Alpha Dogs is the book for you.”   —Ken Auletta

Product details

  • Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0374103674
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0374103675
  • Dimensions : 6.59 x 1.07 x 8.9 inches
  • Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 13 ratings

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