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nkunka

Booklog

I like big books.

Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics

Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics - James W. Ceaser, Andrew E. Busch, John J. Pitney Jr. Ceasar presents a solid and readable enough presentation of the facts that I really can't quarrel with (Most of it I remember on my own). Perhaps that's why I really couldn't get that into this as a self-proclaimed "analysis" of the 2008 election from a historical perspective. Ceasar does do a great job putting the election poll numbers, demographics, finances, and electoral college functioning in historical context. In my opinion, the last chapter of the book should have been left out.

It's only 2010, and the repercussions of the election are pretty much all hypothetical to this point. Ceasar diverges on some interesting thought experiments about what the future might hold, but to be honest his assumptions are just that, not analysis, at least not until the mid-terms coming up in November.

Moreover, it's in the final chapter when Ceasar is musing that he sort of tips his hand as he gets carried away with how the Republicans may reclaim power by playing it careful and allowing the Democrats to self-destruct (a point that arguably had some prescience as of this writing in August).

The bottom-line is that this book is solid for its data, but the analysis of the failures of the various candidates, where not obvious, where certainly only a matter of perspective rather than absolute truth. There exist any number of explanations for why other candidates did not succeed, none of which are mentioned as competing theories. As such, the analysis feels more like a bathroom than a picture window into what went on culturally and socially in the 2008 election. For example, the author all but dismisses race as a factor in the election, which, following the news as I did for the entire 2007-2008 primary and general election season, I find incredibly hard to believe. Ceasar insists at several moments that race was simply a background factor and that most of America simply didn't care about it as much as the candidates and pols might have. Race is a major historical theme in ALL of American history, to discount it in the election of the first African-American president seems incredibly naive.