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Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House Hardcover – November 16, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Richard Wolffe’s Renegade
“Destined to be a classic in its genre.” —Douglas Brinkley
“Insightful …A thoughtful meditation on Mr. Obama’s life and character.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“There is enough drama, and then some, in Renegade. It is surely not the final word—but it is as close as we are likely to get.” —Ted Widmer, Washington Post
“A superb achievement …Wolffe’s brisk, well-written narrative is fully in the tradition of Theodore White and Richard Ben Cramer.” —Michael Beschloss
“An insightful, unusually moving, fully observed portrait … Marvelous.” —Ken Burns

About the Author

RICHARD WOLFFE is an award-winning journalist and political analyst for MSNBC television, appearing frequently on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Hardball with Chris Matthews. He covered the entire length of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign for Newsweek magazine. Before Newsweek, Wolffe was a senior journalist at the Financial Times, serving as its deputy bureau chief and U.S. diplomatic correspondent. He lives with his wife and their three children in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307717410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307717412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,478,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Richard Wolffe's, whose book 'Renegade' chronicled the Obama 2008 campaign, has done it again with 'Revival', a stuning look at the inner workings of the White House during early 2010.

For those of us who will never play basketball with Obama like Wolffe has, this is as close-up and personal as you can get to the leader of the free world without being in his inner circle.

Most interesting to me was the personal side of Obama that we never see; when Obama is 'close to tears' as he remembers Td Kennedy during one of his last public appearances during th health care debate; the emotion he tries to hide when health care legislation is actually passed; & the strain evident on him to remain composed when his grandmother died just days before his election.

Getting a look into Obama's inner circle is extraordinary as well. Reading anecdotes about Gibbs, Axelrod & Emanuel ('deelply insecure') gives insight not only to his most trusted advisors, but to Obama himself. I particularly like the insight into Joe Biden & Hillary Clinton & the 'Clinton clique' (source of leaks?). For those of us who always want to know, 'What is REALLY going on in the White House?', this book offers us some insight.

But the most interesting part of this book is the struggle between the 'Revivalists', 'who want to return to the high minded spirit of the ...campaign' and the Survivalists, 'who believe that government demands a low-minded set of compromises and combat'. No wonder things have not gone smoothly for team Obama this year. Fascinating.

"Revival' helps us understand how Obama has changed. Wolffe seems to see the religious fervor of the 'Revivalistis' at odds w/the pragmatic 'Survivalists'.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Gibbs, do you know Wolffe is here? Have you all checked the thumb drives?" -President Obama jokingly to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Five REVEALING Stars!! Probing, detailed, fair-minded, sometimes unflattering, and highly informative. Presidential biographer, senior correspondent, and journalist Richard Wolffe's latest book captures President Barack Obama and staff after the successful run for the White House as detailed in Renegade: The Making of a President. During several months, beginning in January 2010, the author had a great deal of access: interviewing "every senior West Wing official from the president and vice president on down" in oral and written "real-time and rearview observations": literally a "rolling conversation" with them. In 5 chapters (Destination, Terminal, Redemption, Recovery, and Survival, and when you reach the Epilogue, do keep reading through the Acknowledgements), he starts at the triumphant period with the passing of Obama Health Care legislation in the Prologue, and then going back to the beginnings of the Obama administration, he writes a fascinating non-partisan analysis of Obama's administration personnel, goals, strategy, successes and failures: coming out of campaign mode to actually governing the nation. He lays bare the politics and posturing, while Obama's inner circle attempted to take advantage of what was perceived at the election as a mandate for change. But a year later, much of it was virtually stalling out due to unemployment, the financial crisis, and the wars. Then in March came the long-sought passage of the health care act to raise spirits.
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I love Richard Wolffe, and while I enjoyed this book, I found it, at least in the early sections, much less compelling than Renegade. My reaction may have been partly influenced because the early part of the book focuses so much on the impact for the administration and the Democtrats of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to a Republican. While that was significant at the time, it pales in comparison to the more recent developments of the mid-term elections when the Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives. Still, I also had some issues with the content. I felt like the first half of the book provided fewer of the behind the scenes anecdotes that made Renegade so compelling. There were a lot of passages with Wolffe providing lofty, almost philosophical, context for what was going on and a broad description of what he called the Revivalist (let's change the world) vs. Survivalist (let's focus on what we can get passed) camps inside the White House. He had a lot of quotes from David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel but those too were broad viewpoints about the political landscape and their sense of Obama's personality. I didn't want to read a treatise -- I wanted to see people in action and tidbits you don't get in the daily news. In the whole section on the health care debate, I didn't get a lot of details that I didn't already know. That may be because I followed the health care debate on a day-to-day basis until I couldn't take the daily frettting over whether the public option was in or out and decided to turn off Countdown & ignore the articles on the Huffington Post until there was a final bill passed. Halfway through the book, though, my experience of it changed.Read more ›
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