Herding Donkeys by Ari Berman
The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics

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Synopsis

After the 2004 election, the Republican Party held the White House, both houses of Congress, twenty-eight governorships, and a majority of state legislatures. One-party rule, it seemed, was here to stay.

Herding Donkeys tells the improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from a lonely minority to a sizable majority. It chronicles the inside story of Howard Dean’s visionary yet deeply controversial fifty-state strategy, charting his unpredictable journey from insurgent presidential candidate, to front-running flameout, to chairman and conscience of the Democratic Party in an unexpected third act. Ari Berman reveals how the Obama campaign built upon Dean’s strategy when others ridiculed it, expanding the ranks of the party and ultimately laying the groundwork for Obama’s historic electoral victory—but also sowing the seeds of dissent that would lead to legislative stalemate and intraparty strife.

Revelatory and entertaining, in the vein of Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus and Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, Herding Donkeys combines fresh reportage with a rich and colorful cast of characters. It captures the untold stories of the people and places that reshaped the electoral map, painting a vivid portrait of a shifting country while dissecting the possibility and peril of a new era in American politics.


 

About Ari Berman

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ARI BERMAN is a political correspondent for The Nation and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.
 
Published September 28, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 303 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Herding Donkeys

Kirkus Reviews

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As The Nation political correspondent Berman ably shows, many factors led to the success of President Obama’s election campaign, but a crucial aspect is often overlooked—the role played by Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic Party After his victory speech, the president-elect paid tribute...

Oct 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

Publishers Weekly

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Berman plumbs the roots of Barack Obama's 2008 victory, reaching back four years to a failed Democratic presidential campaign that left loyalists dispirited—and the White House, Congress, and a majority of state legislatures in Republican control.

Jul 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

The Wall Street Journal

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His book—about how grass-roots progressives helped to revive Democratic fortunes and make Mr. Obama president—is a well-reported tour de force that would be worth reading as a snapshot in time even if the Democrats went the way of the Whigs after November.

Sep 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

Christian Science Monitor

Obama turns to '60 Minutes.' Who is he trying to reach now?

Oct 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

Huffington Post

He chronicles the rise of Dean, the 50-state strategy (and Rahm Emanuel's throwing a tantrum when Dean stood up to him, leading Rahm to refer to the 50-state strategy, in his usual charming manner, as "f**king bullshit."), President Obama's building upon what Dean started both rhetorically and te...

Oct 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

Bookmarks Magazine

Ari Berman reveals how the Obama campaign built upon Dean’s strategy when others ridiculed it, expanding the ranks of the party and ultimately laying the groundwork for Obama’s historic electoral victory—but also sowing the seeds of dissent that would lead to legislative stalemate and intraparty ...

Oct 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to...

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