Believer: My Forty Years in Politics

Believer My Forty Years in Politics New York Times Book Review A stout defense indeed the best I have read of the Obama years A New York Times BestsellerDavid Axelrod has always been a believer Whether as a young journalist investigati

  • Title: Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
  • Author: David Axelrod
  • ISBN: 9781594205873
  • Page: 136
  • Format: Hardcover
  • New York Times Book Review A stout defense indeed, the best I have read of the Obama years A New York Times BestsellerDavid Axelrod has always been a believer Whether as a young journalist investigating city corruption, a campaign consultant guiding underdog candidates against entrenched orthodoxy, or as senior adviser to the president during one of the worst criseNew York Times Book Review A stout defense indeed, the best I have read of the Obama years A New York Times BestsellerDavid Axelrod has always been a believer Whether as a young journalist investigating city corruption, a campaign consultant guiding underdog candidates against entrenched orthodoxy, or as senior adviser to the president during one of the worst crises in American history, Axelrod held fast to his faith in the power of stories to unite diverse communities and ignite transformative political change Now this legendary strategist, the mastermind behind Barack Obama s historic election campaigns, shares a wealth of stories from his forty year journey through the inner workings of American democracy Believer is the tale of a political life well lived, of a man who never gave up on the deepest promises our country has to offer.Believer reveals the roots of Axelrod s devotion to politics and his faith in democratic change As a child of the 60s in New York City, Axelrod worked his first campaigns during a tumultuous decade that began with soaring optimism and ended in violence and chaos As a young newspaperman in Chicago during the 1970s and 80s, Axelrod witnessed another world transformed when he reported on the dissolution of the last of the big city political machines Richard Daley, Dan Rostenkowski, and Harold Washington along with the emergence of a dynamic black independent movement that ultimately made Obama s ascent possible.After cutting his teeth in the rollicking world of Chicago journalism, Axelrod switched careers to become a political strategist His unorthodox tactics during his first campaign helped him get Paul Simon unexpectedly elected to the Senate, and soon Axelrod s counsel was sought by the greatest lights of the Democratic Party Working for path breakers like Hillary Clinton, Deval Patrick, and Rahm Emanuel and morally conflicted characters like Rod Blagojevich and John Edwards Axelrod, for better and worse, redefined the techniques by which modern political campaigns are run.The heart of Believer is Axelrod s twenty year friendship with Barack Obama, a warm partnership that inspired both men even as it propelled each to great heights Taking a chance on an unlikely candidate for the U.S Senate, Axelrod ultimately collaborated closely with Obama on his political campaigns, and served as the invaluable strategist who contributed to the tremendous victories of 2008 and 2012 Switching careers again, Axelrod served as senior adviser to the president during one of the most challenging periods in national history working at Obama s side as he battled an economic disaster navigated America through two wars and fought to reform health care, the financial sector, and our gridlocked political institutions In Believer, Axelrod offers a deeper and richer profile of this extraordinary figure who in just four years vaulted from the Illinois State Senate to the Oval Office from the perspective of one who was at his side every step of the way.Spanning forty years that include corruption and transformation, turmoil and progress, Believer takes readers behind the closed doors of politics even as it offers a thrilling call to democratic action Axelrod s Believer is a powerful and inspiring memoir enlivened by the charm and candor of one of the greatest political strategists in recent American historyRIS KEARNS GOODWIN, author of The Bully Pulpit and Team of Rivals Beautifully written with warmth, humor, and remarkable self awareness, Believer is one of the finest political memoirs I have ever read.

    868 Comment

    • judy says:

      How can you not love Axlerod's description of Chicago politics? As anyone knows who has lived through Daley I, Daley II, and the Interregnum, it's the finest political theater anywhere. The close-up of how Obama ended up running when he had far less experience than conventional wisdom would decree, was quite interesting. Oddly enough, I found the story of the Presidential campaigns (for which Axelrod lives) a tad disappointing. I'm used to politics as a blood sport even among members of the staf [...]

    • Russell R Miller says:

      interesting and a bit sad at the same time.David Axelrod takes us through the presidential story from a very early time before Obama was even in the U.S. Senate. Having been in campaigns and even run for office I can sympathize with him in trying to keep the candidate on the proper path, and at the same time not so antagonize him so not to be excluded from additional advice and a personal bond. There is an underlying sadness that the relationship although close somehow didn't develop the intimac [...]

    • Sonja says:

      Parts of this book were fascinating. I was very interested in learning about Axe's rise through politics, and the ups and downs of the campaigns.However, he lacks the self-awareness to make this a truly great memoir. He seems to be unconscious of the amount of spin he puts on everything. Axelrod is a campaigner & has built his career on spin, so it shouldn't be surprising. But at a certain point, it became incredibly frustrating to feel that the entire book was just one long campaign ad for [...]

    • Srinath Jagannathan says:

      Frank and disarmingly honest accountIt's not surprising that a master of messaging would write an engrossing book largely covering one of the most eventful periods of world history. But what comes across most starkly is Axelrod's immunity to the effects of the very process he so expertly deployed throughout his career - unbridled faith through repetitive exhortations and self-delusion.It's not hard to find partisanship or excuses or willful dismissal of opposing viewpoints in this book. But the [...]

    • David says:

      An amazing memoir buy a guy who's life I wish I could have. David Axelrod is truly an inspiration for me. I love politics and I hope one day I can get into it like he did. He speaks with such passion about his work, beliefs, and of course his family. He wrote this in a way he could try to be as personal to a person as possible. I loved it.

    • Kay Rahardjo says:

      Great book about an interesting man who was close to many well-known politicians. He tells of his personal tragedies and also of his triumphs in a way that makes it hard not to like him a great deal. Given his support of mostly Democrats, this book will likely be viewed as highly partisan. Maybe it is. I loved it, especially the lead up to Obama's presidential campaign.

    • Jim says:

      I have to admit I read this for a book discussion group but I found it a very enjoyable and readable book. Once I got into it, the 500+ pages went fast. It certainly made for a good discussion, pro and con It does help if you have an interest in politics. Axelrod not only gives us an insider's look at the Obama campaigns and presidency, but relates the story of his life. It all started in New York when he was taken to a JFK rally during the election of 1960. Although only a small child at that t [...]

    • Raul Fernandez says:

      David Axelrod's book provides an in-depth understanding behind the scenes about Chicago politics and Barack Obama. He provided this behind the scenes through his perspective and his history in politics. It was so fascinating to hear about his journey in politics and I just wanted to read more.

    • Jana says:

      I enjoyed this behind the scenes look at high-profile campaign work and the glimpses into the Axelrod family. What a career and what a life.

    • Jim Blessing says:

      Excellent political book by David Axelrod.

    • Justin Tapp says:

      I began this book just before the November, 2016 election and finished it in those incredibly sobering days afterward. (The 2008 election was somewhat similar to 2016 in that voters went with the candidate that least resembled their perception of Washington.) I listened to this in Axelrod's own voice, which is the best way to do it. This might be a good look at what it's like to be a professional campaigner, writer, marketer. Axelrod is famous for being Pres. Obama's political adviser, but this [...]

    • John Gurney says:

      David Axelrod started his career as a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune before becoming a political consultant with three decades of experience culminating in Barrack Obama's election and reelection. Because political views color the lens one uses to read a book like this, full disclosure: my outlook is not easy to pigeon hole, but to call me a small-l libertarian, #neverTrump, moderate Republican is fair. I enjoyed Axelrod's Believer even though I don't share a lot in common with him. [...]

    • Mdury says:

      This is a strong 4-stars, and I'd likely give it 5 if it weren't about politics [which ocassionally makes this text deeply frustrating as a socially conscious citizen]. I never could've imagined enjoying a retrospective about someone's time working in politics to be so enjoyable. Axelrod can clearly write e.g.: see Obama's campaigns)—duh. What I found the most enjoyable about this book was its affirmation in positive ideology but also decision making based in critical thinking and the big pict [...]

    • Arlitia Jones says:

      I am a Believer. I was long before I read this book. And I will be to the end of my days, I don’t doubt. Politics are complicated and hold no promise. But once in a lifetime a leader emerges backed by the right team who goes to battle for the people. We witnessed that for 8 years. I am grateful for this book detailing the victories and pitfalls along the way. This is a look backstage at what worked and what didn’t. The voice is honest, strident, self revelatory and inspiring. I read this boo [...]

    • Max Godin says:

      A frank and engaging book. Axelrod gives a detailed account of growing up in Chicago and a fascinating account of his time as a reporter, allowing us to understand how deep the level of corruption was within city and its politics.It was his work with both the Obama presidential campaigns that I personally found most interesting, Axelrod was there from the very beginning with Obama, from the start of his campaign, to winning the primaries, the convention night and then election day. Throughout it [...]

    • Joanne says:

      This book is wonderful.

    • Callie says:

      This is an excellent book. You must know, though, that the subtitle, My Forty Years in Politics is somewhat misleading. The bulk of the book centers on the time Axelrod spent in campaigning/working for Obama, so that's less than ten years. But let's be honest: Do most of us reading this book care about what Axelrod was up to before he met Obama? I sure didn't. In fact, I didn't even bother to read the first hundred-ish pages leading up to the point where he meets Obama. So, if you like Obama, yo [...]

    • Claire says:

      I decided I can't build tolerance to yet another politician yammering about his years in office, particularly if that memoir's not in Greek, Russian, Chinese or another intriguing language, especially if he bases it on something as upsetting as belief, yet doesn't clearly depict the corresponding trauma I associate with the term, and I checked the index to make sure I only found vagaries talking about the drive "to destroy Al-Qaeda" which I basically translate to xenophobia since Al-Qaeda is onl [...]

    • Jeff Currie says:

      A poignant read in view of the 2016 presidential election. Enlightening and disheartening too - Axelrod believes that public officials - politicians - can do good things for the public. His profession is also the one that sells candidates - good or not - to the electorate.

    • Steve Peifer says:

      I can't tell if this guy is the ultimate liar or really believes this stuff.He takes the most gratuitous shot at Mike Royko I have ever seen. So mean spirited, and isn't it sad that Royko isn't around to tear him apart. I promise you this guy would have NEVER dared to take on Royko when he was alive.The book is mildly entertaining at the beginning, and he has crap to say about EVERYONE. Until Obama comes into his life, and the shift in tone is so drastic and so immediate that I wondered if he ha [...]

    • Leo says:

      Maybe I read too many histories and not enough autobiographies, but this book is a unique portrait of a man who has lived in some interesting times. The pre-Obama sections are most fascinating in that they give a glimpse of what Chicago politics means. That being said, there are a lot of people that he does not want to offend. Obama and 2008 election were compelling. After he gets to the White House it seems that there's a lot of terrible stuff going on and a lot of Obama being AWESOME! Kind of [...]

    • Margaret says:

      I found the first half of this book to be extremely engrossing. Following Axelrod's career from young journalist to political insider was very interesting. His stories and reflections added a side to the political front that we seldom see. However, once he begins writing about working with Barack Obama, the book became tedious at best. Almost completely gone were the anecdotes that made the book come alive, replaced by adoring stories of the always glorious Obama. It matters not what your politi [...]

    • Dennis Swanger says:

      Axelrod's book is an entertaining glimpse into the life and career of a political-campaign insider. The book is well written --- Axelrod started out as a newspaper reporter --- and focuses on the gritty details of modern, American political campaigns, mostly in the Midwest. The heart of the book runs from Axelrod's first meeting with Barack Obama (page 119) to the winning night of the 2008 presidential election (page 323). A must-read for hardcore Obama supporters and political junkies of all st [...]

    • Johannes Kleske says:

      As blatantly subjective as expected, this is the most inside view on Obamas campaigns and first term in the White House as currently available until Obama writes his own take. I was especially interested in the communications and strategy PoV on it. It's deeply fascinating to get the inside perspective on all the events like Obama's botched first debate in his second campaign etc. If you're not into Chicago politics, just skip the first part of this book.

    • Bookforum Magazine says:

      "The conceit of frustrated idealism animates Axelrod's account of his political coming-of-age in Believer. It's a well-written story that will find its most enthusiastic audience among readers doggedly devoted to the Obama creed."–John Stoehr on David Axelrod's Believer: My Forty Years in Politics in the April/May 2015 issue of Bookforum To read the rest of this review, go to Bookforum:bookforum/inprint/022_01

    • Jennifer says:

      This is a compelling documentary of recent Presidential history. The prose is very well done, and gives the insider's view on Axelrod's early career as a journalist and campaign consultant, and his later career working on Obama's two elections and as a senior strategist in the White House during Obama's first two years.

    • Nora Weaver says:

      "Believer" was compulsively readable. Axelrod is a fabulous story teller and, because of his background in newspaper and communications, his writing is marvelous, his use of language extraordinary. If you are remotely interested in politics and governance, you will love this insider view of Axelrod's entire career which had the aim of making the world a better place for all people.

    • Michael Shea says:

      Only read the Obama parts--nobody wants to read about Deval Patrick. David Axelrod calling himself "a believer" is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, given his career as a campaigner and focus group guy.

    • Kenny says:

      Great window into political strategy, campaigns, and Obama's rise and presidency. Axelrod is fascinating to listen to and comes off as honest and honorable. Desta and Ben had loved it, and I now see why.

    • David says:

      Anything reasonably well-written by a top-level political strategist gets top ratings from me, especially if it reveals nuggets of inside information. Fascinating!

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