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Worthwhile Campaign Books

Dana Goldstein recommends two books worth reading:

Big Girls Don’t Cry is one of the best cultural analyses I’ve read of a political event

; it is the first truly intersectional campaign chronicle, examining how race, sex, and class all shaped the debate — and boy, did they ever! One of my favorite things about this book is that although Traister identifies as a Hillary supporter, she totally eviscerates the argument that younger women who supported Obama were bad feminists. And she refuses to engage in Oppression Olympics, completely rejecting the reductionist argument that any ism — racism or sexism, in particular — is more morally outrageous than any other. (Warning: Prepare to take an emotional trip back to some of the most difficult inter-left debates of 07–08.)

Meanwhile, Herding Donkeys uses Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy as a lens through which to understand first, how Obama won, and second, why his popularity at the polls has not translated into a governing mandate to think big on progressive public policy, from economic justice to civil rights.

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Goldstein contrasts these books to Game Change, a gossipy quicky book that doesn’t shed much real light on anything: “both will teach you WAY more about culture and politics in America than you’ll learn dishing about Elizabeth Edwards yelling at her ex’s campaign staffers.” Indeed, though Goldstein says of Game Change “[l]ike every other political journo, I read it and loved it even as I argued with it” I have trouble understanding the appeal of that kind of book in this day and age. One of the virtues of the Internet is that I feel confident all the juiciest nuggets were conveyed to me without me needing to pick the book up.

In many respects books are a more vital medium than ever in an Internet age, but what’s vital about them is the ability to bring the kind of big picture analytical perspective Traister and Berman (who’s book I’ve been perusing) are aiming for.