‘Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump’ by Edward-Isaac Dovere

Penguin Publishing Group, 2021

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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.


Edward-Isaac Dovere is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He has covered Democratic politics for 15 years—beginning in his native New York, onto the Obama White House and then across 29 states during the 2020 election cycle.

In 2006, Dovere was the founding editor of City Hall, focused on New York City politics, which a year and a half later expanded into The Capitol, focused on state politics. He was twice recognized for best political coverage by the New York Press Association, and won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Daniel Pearl Award for investigative reporting for a series exposing the muddled finances of the Working Families Party.

Dovere has been covering national politics since 2011, first at Politico, where he was the senior White House reporter and later chief Washington correspondent, and at The Atlantic since 2018. He won the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Merriman Smith Award for excellence for reporting on Obama’s historic first trip to Cuba. He was the host of Politico’s Off Message podcast and The Atlantic’s The Ticket podcast.

Dovere attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his family.

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