An award-winning political journalist for The Atlantic tells the inside story of how the embattled Democratic party, seeking a direction for its future during the Trump years, successfully regained the White House.
The 2020 presidential campaign was a defining moment for America. As Donald Trump and his nativist populism cowed the Republican Party into submission, many Democrats—haunted by Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in 2016, which led to a four-year-long identity crisis—were convinced he would be unbeatable. Their party and the country, it seemed, might never recover.
How, then, did Democrats manage to win the presidency, especially after the longest primary race and the biggest field ever? How did they keep themselves united through an internal struggle between newly empowered progressives and establishment forces—playing out against a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a new racial reckoning?
Edward-Isaac Dovere’s Battle for the Soul is the searing, fly-on-the-wall account of the Democrats’ journey through recalibration and rebirth. Dovere traces this process from the early days in the wilderness of the post-Obama era, though the jockeying of potential candidates, to the backroom battles and exhausting campaigns, to the unlikely triumph of the man few expected to win, and through the inauguration and insurrection at the Capitol.
Dovere draws on years of on-the-ground reporting and contemporaneous conversations with the key players—whether in Pete Buttigieg’s hotel suite in Des Moines an hour before he won the Iowa caucuses or Joe Biden’s first-ever interview in the Oval Office—as well as aides, advisors, and voters. With unparalleled access and an insider’s command of the campaign, Battle for the Soul offers a compelling look at the policies, politics, people and the often absurd process of running for president. This fresh and timely story brings you on the trail, into the private rooms and along to eavesdrop on critical conversations. You will never see campaigns or this turning point in our history the same way again.
About the Author
Edward-Isaac Dovere is a staff writer for The Atlantic and its lead political correspondent. He has covered Democratic politics for 15 years, beginning in his native New York City and carrying him through the Obama White House and then across 29 states during the 2020 election cycle. His reporting has won the White House Correspondents Association’s Merriman Smith Award for Excellence and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting, among other awards. He lives in Washington, DC, with his family.
"In the tradition of Theodore White’s The Making of the President . . . . A riveting account . . . filled with turning point moments. . . . Scenes jump off the page."
—The Washington Post
"Essential reading. . . . Dovere’s first book is informed and granular, filled with up-close quotes and lacerating observations, a must-read for newsrooms and political junkies. . . . Battle for the Soul provides ample warning and plenty of food for thought."
—Lloyd Green, The Guardian
"A wide-ranging history of a tangled campaign."
"An incisive and deeply reported portrait of the Democratic Party in exile during the Trump presidency . . . . Littered with rich characterizations, wry humor, and impressive insider access."
"There’s so much in it. It’s so dishy. It’s so fantastic. You’ll learn a lot."
—Julie Mason, SiriusXM
"Candy. . . . Even if you think you know the dynamics, you read a great book like this by a great reporter, and you learn these new things."
—John King, CNN
"One juicy book."
—Alex Witt, MSNBC
"It is outstanding. Strongly recommend. I think it is probably the best read of the 2020 campaign. The success of the book is that it doesn’t bogged down in the horse race, electoral math type thing, but it talks about the personalities, how the personalities drove what happened in an extraordinarily unpredictable campaign."
—Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark
"Highly recommend - it is a dynamite book."
—John Fugelsang, SiriusXM
"An extraordinary new book."
"The inside campaign details I was craving. . . . Buy the book."
—Dave Weigel, The Washington Post