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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Things were not looking good for President Obama at the time of the 2012 election: the economy was still struggling, no one seemed to really understand how Obamacare would work, and the Republicans' number-one objective remained obstructing the president's programs. Even Bill Clinton thought Obama would lose. So what turned it around? In a narrative that is as engaging as it is informative, veteran political writer Alter offers a mix of answers: Republican overreach, too many primaries, demographics, the Obama campaign's smart use of twenty-first century technology, and the unexpected moments that always seem to shake up elections (Clint Eastwood, meet Hurricane Sandy). Oh, and the ability of the Democrats to paint Romney as a one-dimensional rich kid, a position that was cemented by the famous recording of him denigrating 47 percent of the American people. Because Alter has so much to cover here, some of the issues get shorter shrift than others, but all the important points are hit: the introduction of Tea Party politics; the absence of the president's schmooze gene ; campaign trail highs and lows; the debates, especially the first one with Obama MIA; and plenty about both policy and politics, which sets up a solid framework for the dishier parts of the story. (No one seems to like Valerie Jarrett except the Obamas.) Containing analysis as well as reportage and with most of the quotes sourced, this makes for good history as well as a good read.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist