• Battle for the Soul

  • Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump
  • By: Edward-Isaac Dovere
  • Narrated by: Holter Graham
  • Length: 21 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (180 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 and the resulting four-year-long identity crisis — were convinced that 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 with 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 to the jockeying of potential candidates; from the backroom battles and exhausting campaigns to the unlikely triumph of the man few expected to win; and on through the inauguration and the insurrection at the Capitol.

Dovere draws on years of on-the-ground reporting and contemporaneous conversations with the key players — whether with Pete Buttigieg in his hotel suite in Des Moines an hour before he won the Iowa caucuses or with Joe Biden in his first-ever interview in the Oval Office — as well as with aides, advisors, and voters. Offering unparalleled access and an insider’s command of the campaign, Battle for the Soul takes a compelling look at the policies, politics, and people, as well as 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.

©2021 Edward-Isaac Dovere (P)2021 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"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." (Kirkus Reviews)

"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." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Battle for the Soul

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Interesting Story, but not well written and missing too many details

Look, I’m obviously not the targeted reader/listener of this book. But I like to read books from different point of views than my own but this book just doesn’t cut it when it comes to a political campaign book. The author spends too much time romanticizing Joe Biden and the democratic field and comes across incredibly condescending to anyone that isn’t an Uber liberal elitist. Unlike Allen and Parmes’ Lucky, this book doesn’t even make an attempt at staying neutral and living up to journalistic integrity. This is a love song for Biden. If you are a Biden/Democrat devotee (and don’t mind rather adequate prose) then this is the book for you. If you aren’t that, read Lucky and you’ll get the same story, just written much better and without the preachiness of this slog of a book.

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Superficial MSNBC level analysis

Why would anyone write a book that is essentially stenography of the corporate Democrats?
Why just not zone out and listen to Rachel Maddow?
Utterly superficial as is the Biden talking point concerning the “soul” of America, the author just cheers on the corporate neoliberal global capital status quo.
He completely ignores how the corporatists colluded to eliminate the one candidate who could have brought us back from the brink - an old school FDR Democrat.
This book is intellectual rubbish.

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Disclaimer - I voted for President Trump.

The title of this book says it all. Defeating President Trump was the sole focus of the Democratic Party. All strategy centered around beating Trump. I contend this is why there was a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Their actions were motivated by hate of Trump rather than love for our country. This book is a fairy tale. Had I known the Democrats and Biden were such saints, I would have changed my vote. Not.
I am a devout Catholic. The Catholic Church's moral and social teachings require protection for the human embryo, marriage between a man and woman, anti-euthanasia, and other moral evils. Politicians who promote abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia should be denied Holy Communion. President Biden is a devout "cafeteria catholic."
Recommended reading: "Cool It, " by Bjorn Lomborg. "Debunking Howard Zinn, by Mary Grabar. "The Death of Right and Wrong," by Tammy Bruce.

3 people found this helpful

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Good read for political junkies!

good book a very informative! I found it mostly fact based unlike the former President!

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Outstanding

This book is beautifully written. Excellent chronological depiction of events. I recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation of history.

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Some fact. Lots of progressive fiction.

Started off as believable when discussing Democratic primary. Goes on to portraying Biden as a wise man. Demonizes Trump and the Republicans party.

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Engrossing Read

Just a fantastic telling of the 2020 campaign that gives amazing insight into the candidates. A modern day's What It Takes.

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Like Heroin for a Political Junkie

I think my headline says it all. A must read if you are absolutely addicted to politics like me.

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what we really think/know?

It's good to get a clear understanding of what was going through the minds of those involved in our last election.

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  • KRB
  • 04-26-22

Holter Graham is fantastic!

I have heard a few books now, read by Holter Graham, and i find myself enjoying his snarkyness and humor, that is well timed when the text calls for it. I find myself buying books just because he is the narrator!

Great book too. Interesting story of the democrats battle against Trump! Well done

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  • Beelez
  • 11-15-21

Fascinating

So detailed and informative. A fascinating account of the Democrat campaign for the White House.

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  • Josh Adams
  • 08-03-21

Too sentimental and trite

Perhaps it's just because the book follows a group of American politicians trying to become President, but the book came across as very sentimental. As if the author, like the politicians themselves, was writing in poetry and not prose. I'm sure the Trump years were very bad, but I would've preferred an account with less high-flying rhetoric, and less focus on how much Biden loves his family. We get it.

Otherwise, a good read.

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  • L. V. Smith
  • 07-22-21

Loved this

Fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the Dem campaign. Funny, horrifying, illuminating and beautifully read as well.

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  • michael Billington
  • 06-04-21

Fascinating account of Democratic Party primary

This book is about the Democratic Party and the men and woman who ran for the nomination in 2020. It begins with Trump's stunning victory over Hillary Clinton and concludes with the victory of Joe Biden and his inauguration as the 46th President. What this book is not is yet another book on Donald Trump, the focus is almost entirely on the how Democrats tried to find a winning message and rationale for why they should be the nominee.

The author does not shy away from making judgements on where and why candidates failed to make an impact and some of his judgements are scathing. But I found the work to be fair to the candidates and even tries to be understanding without excusing their mistakes. My only critique would be that some chapters jump around from candidate to candidate and the listener can be left confused as to who is being talked about

Overall an excellent account of an election in which so much happened that even the most avid political followers may find themselves reminded of events that in any other election would have been the dominant story but are washed away in the constant churn of Trump.