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The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory Hardcover – November 3, 2009
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"...a gripping blockbuster of a book, manna for political aficianados and newcomers to elections alike, full of scrappy details, minute explanations of strategy, tales from the trail and candid assessments of mistakes made and lessons learned."
"After reading Plouffe's engaging, detailed and frequently illuminating account of the Obama presidential campaign, one can see how the campaign was lucky and good-- indeed, often very, very good."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"[Plouffe] gives readers a visceral sense of the campaign from an insider's point of view...He offers acute assessments of the larger dynamics at play in the 2008 race, and he is frank about missteps that the Obama campaign made along the way...A detailed and revealing account."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Plouffe has written the most important political book of the year. It reads like a thriller...I flipped it open, read a few lines and was hooked...But it's not the insider look at the past that makes the book so important. It's what it shows us about the present--and the effect it could have on the future."
-Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post
About the Author
David Plouffe served as the campaign manager for Barack Obama's primary and general election victories in 2008. He was the architect of the strategy for both elections. Prior to running the Obama campaign, Plouffe served as a leading Democratic Party media consultant from 2001 to 2007, playing a key role in the election of U.S. senators, governors, mayors, and House members across the country. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Top Customer Reviews
The only thing I would have liked to have seen is the Obama campaign's reaction to McCain defending Obama at one of his town halls. That incident is not mentioned in the book at all. Other than this one oversight, it was a great read to anyone that closely followed the 2008 election campaign.
The Audacity to WIn delivered in one respect. David Plouffe provided a detailed overview of the strategy and how it was executed.
His identification of the power of digital/and social media was a key to Obama's success. They harnessed the power of the Internet to develop a personal rapport with more than 13 million people who registered on Obama's Web site.
Several things turned me off about the book. Plouffe at times comes across as arrogant and immature. He devotes material sections of copy to demean opponents and the strategies they pursued.
I found myself wishing he would stand above the fray and be more magnanimous.
Overall, I would strongly recommend the audacity to win to any person, regardless of political persuasion, who has a definite interest in what it takes to win a presidential election.
You know you are reading something very special when it occurs to you as you read it, that if you had a week to think about it, you could not have expressed it better yourself. Plouffe reveals himself in this book to be the best campaign manager of his generation hands down, and no one is else is even close. Just his choice of words when he expresses himself is spot on brilliant.
There are 17 chapters in this book spread among 375 pages. The writing is engrossing, fascinating, seat of the pants action. Although the book is written for the general population it is the political junkie that will love and cherish it. Plouffe is very clear that he is dealing with a young, inexperienced Barack Obama and attempting to derail a massive train called Hillary Clinton who has face value, all the money in the world, connections, power and knowing how to use power, and Plouffe wants to knock her out for the nomination. He will then, if successful, have to go against the Republican war machine.
As Plouffe points out, Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love. His sidekick for the journey will be David Axelrod of Chicago, who is Obama's friend and advisor for more than a decade. With Plouffe leading the charge, they would run a basically flawless campaign. There was no room for error because Hillary was already so far in front, and acknowledged as the preordained sure winner. Why even enter the race, but Obama was determined, and you don't enter a race when you want to. You enter when you think you can win it. The future President was determined that he could make a difference and now was the time. It is also pointed out that Obama knew that he would not be crushed if he lost. He was comfortable in his own skin. He could stomach defeat because his whole ego was not at risk in this race. He would be okay emotionally, losing.
Every chapter is fascinating. Every page contains vital information about how to run a campaign at the highest levels of government. How did Obama run a flawless campaign with basically no unforced errors? It's one thing when something comes out of left field that attempts to defeat you. It's another thing to create your own problems by verbal miscues or having others say the wrong thing on your behalf.
There were no leaks in this campaign. There were no members of the campaign staff that were trying to kill off other members of the staff to elevate themselves. Nobody was paid a lavish salary, and the whole deal was treated like a democracy. Everybody seemed to be comfortable with others on the staff. You did not see the numerous staff reshufflings that you see in other campaigns. The big time firings weren't there. The vetting process worked.
Plouffe takes you through the campaign step by step. He shows you how to organize, what was unique about this campaign. These guys were revolutionary in what they did. Their involvement with the Internet was mind boggling. Obama's people probably had more success with the Internet than the rest of the candidates in both political parties combined. Think about it, Obama was financially completely competitive with Hillary Clinton, and later on would manage to our draw and out spend her, because of his financial success on the Internet. No one could have predicted this.
Every time the Obama campaign took a risk, whether it was going to Europe to showcase Obama to 200,000 people in Germany, or have him make a major statement on race in Philadelphia after his minister made politically heated remarks, Obama benefited from taking the risk. America has never seen a campaign or campaigner like this before. We are fortunate to have this book written by the ultimate insider, and it will allow the rest of us to figure out how they pulled it off. We should all read it regardless of our political persuasion, and thank you for reading this review.
Richard C. Stoyeck
Plouffe provides, with great candor and directness, valuable insight as to the various strategies and decisions that helped reshape the landscape of the electorate in ways that were commonly seen as impossible. Unlike many authors, he does not shy away from taking responsibility in areas where mistakes could have been avoided and outcomes improved (even though, in hindsight, these scattered missteps probably served to strengthened the campaign's resolve and bolster the candidate's approach to campaigning in the long run).
Ultimately, The Audacity to Win is one of those books that you feel saddened to have finished - flagging it for a future reread down the road. But as Plouffe makes clear, this story is but one chapter in the promising annals of campaigns based on hope, grassroots organizing, and the unyielding belief in overcoming adversity; transforming electoral politics from a perceived zero-sum game into one in which growing the electorate takes precedent over pandering to the lowest common denominator - our differences are our greatest asset, not our greatest weakness.