Believer: My Forty Years in Politics

Believer: My Forty Years in Politics Review

New York Times Book Review
“A stout defense--indeed, the best I have read--of the Obama years."

A New York Times Bestseller


David Axelrod has always been a believer. Whether as a young journalist investigating city corruption, a campaign consultant guiding underdog candidates against entrenched orthodoxy, or as senior adviser to the president during one of the worst crises in American history, Axelrod held fast to his faith in the power of stories to unite diverse communities and ignite transformative political change. Now this legendary strategist, the mastermind behind Barack Obama’s historic election campaigns, shares a wealth of stories from his forty-year journey through the inner workings of American democracy. Believer is the tale of a political life well lived, of a man who never gave up on the deepest promises our country has to offer.

Believer reveals the roots of Axelrod’s devotion to politics and his faith in democratic change. As a child of the ’60s in New York City, Axelrod worked his first campaigns during a tumultuous decade that began with soaring optimism and ended in violence and chaos. As a young newspaperman in Chicago during the 1970s and ’80s, Axelrod witnessed another world transformed when he reported on the dissolution of the last of the big city political machines—Richard Daley, Dan Rostenkowski, and Harold Washington—along with the emergence of a dynamic black independent movement that ultimately made Obama’s ascent possible.

After cutting his teeth in the rollicking world of Chicago journalism, Axelrod switched careers to become a political strategist. His unorthodox tactics during his first campaign helped him get Paul Simon unexpectedly elected to the Senate, and soon Axelrod’s counsel was sought by the greatest lights of the Democratic Party. Working for path breakers like Hillary Clinton, Deval Patrick, and Rahm Emanuel—and morally conflicted characters like Rod Blagojevich and John Edwards—Axelrod, for better and worse, redefined the techniques by which modern political campaigns are run.

The heart of Believer is Axelrod’s twenty-year friendship with Barack Obama, a warm partnership that inspired both men even as it propelled each to great heights. Taking a chance on an unlikely candidate for the U.S. Senate, Axelrod ultimately collaborated closely with Obama on his political campaigns, and served as the invaluable strategist who contributed to the tremendous victories of 2008 and 2012. Switching careers again, Axelrod served as senior adviser to the president during one of the most challenging periods in national history: working at Obama’s side as he battled an economic disaster; navigated America through two wars; and fought to reform health care, the financial sector, and our gridlocked political institutions. In Believer, Axelrod offers a deeper and richer profile of this extraordinary figure—who in just four years vaulted from the Illinois State Senate to the Oval Office—from the perspective of one who was at his side every step of the way.

Spanning forty years that include corruption and transformation, turmoil and progress, Believer takes readers behind the closed doors of politics even as it offers a thrilling call to democratic action. Axelrod’s Believer is a powerful and inspiring memoir enlivened by the charm and candor of one of the greatest political strategists in recent American history.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, author of The Bully Pulpit and Team of Rivals
“Beautifully written with warmth, humor, and remarkable self-awareness, Believer is one of the finest political memoirs I have ever read.”

Title:Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • judy

    How can you not love Axlerod's description of Chicago politics? As anyone knows who has lived through Daley I, Daley II, and the Interregnum, it's the finest political theater anywhere. The close-up o...

  • Russell R Miller

    interesting and a bit sad at the same time.David Axelrod takes us through the presidential story from a very early time before Obama was even in the U.S. Senate. Having been in campaigns and even run ...

  • Sonja

    Parts of this book were fascinating. I was very interested in learning about Axe's rise through politics, and the ups and downs of the campaigns.However, he lacks the self-awareness to make this a tru...

  • Carol Storm

    So much better than the usual political biography. David Axelrod has an authentic voice and actually tells about his whole life, not just working for Barack Obama as a campaign manager and speech writ...

  • Srinath Jagannathan

    Frank and disarmingly honest accountIt's not surprising that a master of messaging would write an engrossing book largely covering one of the most eventful periods of world history. But what comes ac...

  • David

    An amazing memoir buy a guy who's life I wish I could have. David Axelrod is truly an inspiration for me. I love politics and I hope one day I can get into it like he did. He speaks with such passion ...

  • Kay Rahardjo

    Great book about an interesting man who was close to many well-known politicians. He tells of his personal tragedies and also of his triumphs in a way that makes it hard not to like him a great deal. ...

  • John Gurney

    David Axelrod started his career as a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune before becoming a political consultant with three decades of experience culminating in Barrack Obama's election and ree...

  • Carmen

    So, so fun to listen to. It's like David Axelrod tucks you in a night and tells you bedtime stories about Obama. Highly recommend....

  • Jim

    I have to admit I read this for a book discussion group but I found it a very enjoyable and readable book. Once I got into it, the 500+ pages went fast. It certainly made for a good discussion, pro a...