08

08
Written by Michael Crowley and Drawn by Dan Goldman
Published by Three Rivers Press

Some might think that it’s a bit quick to be reflecting on recent history in any serious way. In fact, when I first heard about 08: A GRAPHIC DIARY OF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, I was one of those people. But it turns out that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was the 2008 Presidential election among the most historic moments in the history of the United States, but it was one that was built upon a number of smaller moments that are easily forgotten in some of the final analysis. But Michael Crowley and Dan Goldman’s wonderfully researched and executed book puts many of those incidents back into perspective and builds a clearer picture of just how it was that Barack Obama came to defeat John McCain on November 4th.

They do this by going back and starting with the 2006 elections, and the shift in power in Congress to the Democrats. After all, the simple approach to Obama’s win could be considered to be a function of his (eventually) excellent campaign, but it really got started when the nation’s mood demonstrated that it was fed up with what the Republicans had done to the government. From there, the portrait begins to come together, and it’s fascinating.

Do you remember: that at one point Rudy Giuliani was considered the Republican front runner? That later Fred Thompson was considered their big gun for a time? Ron Paul’s youth-oriented Republican run? That Barack Obama was considered boring in his early speeches? Who Mike Gravel is? That even conservatives like Hillary Clinton for a time?

Well, I hadn’t. But 08 did an amazing job of reminding me.

While I know Goldman as a fellow lefty, I was impressed with just how fair the book tries to be to everyone involved along the way. Crowley and Goldman do their best to stick to the facts, documenting the material whenever they can. No one is made out to be a villain and no one is made out to be a saint. That allows 08 to work well as an artifact of its time, and an honest piece of literature. I highly recommend it to all readers.

Marc Mason