From Face the Nation moderator and Slate political columnist John Dickerson, Whistlestop tells the stories behind the stories of the most memorable and even forgotten moments in American presidential campaign history. The stakes are high. The characters full of striving and ego. Presidential campaigns are a battle for control of power in the most powerful country on earth. Campaigns have a clear end, with winners and losers, but along the way there are sharp turning points built into the process-primaries, debates, conventions, and scandals that warp these intense characteristics, squeezing them into emergency action, frantic grasping and heroic moments. As Mike Murphy the political strategist put it: "Campaigns are like war without bullets." [As Stephen Colbert has said, "Campaigns are the greatest story because the stakes are incredibly high and no one dies." Whichever one works for you.] Whistlestop tells the stories reporters and campaign aides rehash at the bar, each one adding an unknown tidbit, or shorthanding for reference-"Dukakis in the tank," "Cuomo's plane to New Hampshire," or "Reagan seizing the microphone." These are insider stories, but they are not just for political junkies. These are human stories full of drama and switchbacks, nervous gambits hatched in first floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the crack up of long-planned stratagems. In addition to the familiar tales, Whistlestop also tells the forgotten stories about the bruising and reckless campaigns of the 19th century, showing that some of the most modern feeling elements of the American presidential campaign were born before the roads were paved and electric lights lit the convention halls. Whistlestop is an examination of the full story of American politics and presidential campaigns.
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