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Revival is the dramatic inside story of the defining period of the Obama White House. It is an epic tale that follows the president and his inner circle from the crisis of defeat to historic success. Over the span of an extraordinary two months in the life of a young presidency, Obama and his senior aides engaged in a desperate struggle for survival that stands as the Revival is the dramatic inside story of the defining period of the Obama White House. It is an epic tale that follows the president and his inner circle from the crisis of defeat to historic success. Over the span of an extraordinary two months in the life of a young presidency, Obama and his senior aides engaged in a desperate struggle for survival that stands as the measure of who they are and how they govern.   Bestselling Obama biographer Richard Wolffe draws on unrivaled access to the West Wing to write a natural sequel to his critically acclaimed book about the president and his campaign. He traces an arc from near death to resurrection that is a repeated pattern for Obama, first as a candidate and now as president. Starting at the first anniversary of the inauguration, Wolffe paints a portrait of a White House at work under exceptional strain across a sweeping set of challenges: from health care reform to a struggling economy, from two wars to terrorism.   Revival is a road map to understanding the dynamics, characters, and disputes that shape the Obama White House. It reveals for the first time the fault lines at the heart of the West Wing between two groups competing for control of the president’s agenda. On one side are the Revivalists, who want to return to the high-minded spirit of the presidential campaign. On the other side are the Survivalists, who believe that government demands a low-minded set of compromises and combat.   At the center of this compelling story is a man who remains opaque to supporters, staff, and critics alike. What motivates him to risk his presidency on health care? What frustrations does he feel at this incredible time of testing? Written by the author who knows Obama best, Revival is a frank and intimate account of a president struggling to adapt, enduring failure, and outfoxing his foes. It is a must-read volume, full of exclusive insights into the untold and unfinished story of a new force in world politics.


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Revival is the dramatic inside story of the defining period of the Obama White House. It is an epic tale that follows the president and his inner circle from the crisis of defeat to historic success. Over the span of an extraordinary two months in the life of a young presidency, Obama and his senior aides engaged in a desperate struggle for survival that stands as the Revival is the dramatic inside story of the defining period of the Obama White House. It is an epic tale that follows the president and his inner circle from the crisis of defeat to historic success. Over the span of an extraordinary two months in the life of a young presidency, Obama and his senior aides engaged in a desperate struggle for survival that stands as the measure of who they are and how they govern.   Bestselling Obama biographer Richard Wolffe draws on unrivaled access to the West Wing to write a natural sequel to his critically acclaimed book about the president and his campaign. He traces an arc from near death to resurrection that is a repeated pattern for Obama, first as a candidate and now as president. Starting at the first anniversary of the inauguration, Wolffe paints a portrait of a White House at work under exceptional strain across a sweeping set of challenges: from health care reform to a struggling economy, from two wars to terrorism.   Revival is a road map to understanding the dynamics, characters, and disputes that shape the Obama White House. It reveals for the first time the fault lines at the heart of the West Wing between two groups competing for control of the president’s agenda. On one side are the Revivalists, who want to return to the high-minded spirit of the presidential campaign. On the other side are the Survivalists, who believe that government demands a low-minded set of compromises and combat.   At the center of this compelling story is a man who remains opaque to supporters, staff, and critics alike. What motivates him to risk his presidency on health care? What frustrations does he feel at this incredible time of testing? Written by the author who knows Obama best, Revival is a frank and intimate account of a president struggling to adapt, enduring failure, and outfoxing his foes. It is a must-read volume, full of exclusive insights into the untold and unfinished story of a new force in world politics.

30 review for Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    John Luiz

    I love Richard Wolffe, and while I enjoyed this book, I found it, at least in the early sections, much less compelling than Renegade. My reaction may have been partly influenced because the early part of the book focuses so much on the impact for the administration and the Democtrats of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to a Republican. While that was significant at the time, it pales in comparison to the more recent developments of the mid-term elections when the Democrats lost their I love Richard Wolffe, and while I enjoyed this book, I found it, at least in the early sections, much less compelling than Renegade. My reaction may have been partly influenced because the early part of the book focuses so much on the impact for the administration and the Democtrats of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to a Republican. While that was significant at the time, it pales in comparison to the more recent developments of the mid-term elections when the Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives. Still, I also had some issues with the content. I felt like the first half of the book provided fewer of the behind the scenes anecdotes that made Renegade so compelling. There were a lot of passages with Wolffe providing lofty, almost philosophical, context for what was going on and a broad description of what he called the Revivalist (let's change the world) vs. Survivalist (let's focus on what we can get passed) camps inside the White House. He had a lot of quotes from David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel but those too were broad viewpoints about the political landscape and their sense of Obama's personality. I didn't want to read a treatise -- I wanted to see people in action and tidbits you don't get in the daily news. In the whole section on the health care debate, I didn't get a lot of details that I didn't already know. That may be because I followed the health care debate on a day-to-day basis until I couldn't take the daily frettting over whether the public option was in or out and decided to turn off Countdown & ignore the articles on the Huffington Post until there was a final bill passed. Halfway through the book, though, my experience of it changed. There were fewer of those long-winded philosophical discussions and more behind the curtain glimpses of how these pople think and act. The book really picked up in my mind when it shifted to the administration's treatment of the Haiti earthquake crisis and the war in Afghanistan. I kept wishing Fox news watchers and Glenn Beck fans would read this book because they'd discover the man they want to call a demagogue is anything but -- he has such a measured, reasoned way of coming to decisions. He's far from the socialistic idealogue they insist he is. (I know they won't read it -- it seems more than a few on the right think Wolffe is an Obama hagiographer). Sadly, in reading the book I started to fear the country is ungovernable because the extremes have taken over both parties, and someone like Obama, who wants to stake out a compromised ground in the middle doesn't stand a chance. But I finished the book last week, and today (Dec 7th, 2010) Obama's coming under considerable attack for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts. Many on the left -- Frank Rich, Rep Anthony Weiner, and even Bill Maher -- are accusing the president of being a wimp (or a victim of "Stockholm syndrome" in Rich's term) and not understanding that occasionally in negotiating you have to take a combative, hardline stance in order to move the opposition toward compromise. The progressives are insisting Obama always gives in before he's tested how far the Republicans might move -- or be forced, by political pressures, to move. Time will tell, but it'll be interesting to see if Obama's measured, analytical, almost academic approach to information gathering and weighing options that Wolffe depicts here could ultimately be Obama's undoing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amr

    I don't disagree with the theme of this book. Obama is a revivalist who wants good for America. Republicans are bad. Yet I don't like the way the case for those conclusions has been made. Richard Wolffe is not one of those partisans who are biased to one side over the other. He present himself (or at least I see him) as a journalist whose opinions are based on facts and grounded into reason. And in making the case for any of those conclusions, he would demonstrates the facts and reasons for those I don't disagree with the theme of this book. Obama is a revivalist who wants good for America. Republicans are bad. Yet I don't like the way the case for those conclusions has been made. Richard Wolffe is not one of those partisans who are biased to one side over the other. He present himself (or at least I see him) as a journalist whose opinions are based on facts and grounded into reason. And in making the case for any of those conclusions, he would demonstrates the facts and reasons for those conclusions. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. While the book is full of analysis to the transformation of the Obama campaign as it moved to the White House and faced the realities of governing, it's light on reporting. There are no new insights into the White House as you find 'Game Change' does to the 2008 campaigns. One thing I really didn't like is making assertions about people and policies without explaining how did you jump to those assertions. One example is the description of Larry Summers. The book maybe right about conclusions but that is not what you look for in a book. You can get that in a short TV segment. Maybe my expectations were wrong. The book makes a good case for Obama. It's a good chance to see things how Obama sees them. It reflects the authors knowledge of the president.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I like the idea of this book, to outline what President Obama wants to do and how that conflicts with what he has to do as part of his job and getting things done. The problem is the book lacks objectivity for at least the first half if not 2/3. Once the author stops fawning over the President, the book improves greatly. It's an interesting inside look at the chaos inside the White House and the difficultly in picking a staff that has the necessary credentials and ability to work together. That I like the idea of this book, to outline what President Obama wants to do and how that conflicts with what he has to do as part of his job and getting things done. The problem is the book lacks objectivity for at least the first half if not 2/3. Once the author stops fawning over the President, the book improves greatly. It's an interesting inside look at the chaos inside the White House and the difficultly in picking a staff that has the necessary credentials and ability to work together. That may actually have been the most interesting part, the outlining of how they put the team together and how different personages work within the system. This book seems to be aimed at the casual reader who is curious about how President Obama is coping with his first year in office...probably people who haven't read a newspaper in a while, though this is admittedly much less attack filled. Not a book that you could use to write a paper, but a decent refresher of the current events and crises of the past year and how they were handled by the White House. Worth reading if you are interested in all things Obama.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Smith

    This book claims to give exclusive insight into the struggle between two competing factions inside the Obama White House. The revivalists; former top campaign aides to the president, and survivalists; Washington insiders who want a more pragmatic approach to governing. The material only covers a 30 day period from February to March 2010. After reading the book, I don't feel like I've learned any new insight on the presidency. Very few nuggets of information were actually new, and his analysis of This book claims to give exclusive insight into the struggle between two competing factions inside the Obama White House. The revivalists; former top campaign aides to the president, and survivalists; Washington insiders who want a more pragmatic approach to governing. The material only covers a 30 day period from February to March 2010. After reading the book, I don't feel like I've learned any new insight on the presidency. Very few nuggets of information were actually new, and his analysis of Obama's actions and governing style lacked depth. The 280 some pages read as more of a reader's digest of recent events, and can easily be substituted with archived articles from the Huffingtom Post.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tj

    In theory the what Wolfe set out to provide is the sort of reporting that journalism should be providing. However the lack of an editor or need to maintain journalistic standards to some level hamper this book, finding Wolfe often seemingly defending the president the way one would a good friend who is facing criticism, not the way a journalist which--which, to my reading is what Wolfe wants to be seen as. Overall the book provides some good prospective on Obama, his thought proccess and what In theory the what Wolfe set out to provide is the sort of reporting that journalism should be providing. However the lack of an editor or need to maintain journalistic standards to some level hamper this book, finding Wolfe often seemingly defending the president the way one would a good friend who is facing criticism, not the way a journalist which--which, to my reading is what Wolfe wants to be seen as. Overall the book provides some good prospective on Obama, his thought proccess and what actually goes in to governing and does back up my general defense of his seeming inaction as president, however it falls short of the goal of being an detailed journalistic evaluation of the first half of the Obama Presidency.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    Really 2.5 stars - the author obviously put a lot into the book, and it didn't suffer from being particularly dry, for such a wonky topic. However, it did seem a bit dated (even after barely a year). Unfortunately for Wolffe, Jonathan Alter came out with a similar, somewhat (though not entirely) overlapping book The Promise: President Obama, Year One first. I listened to the audio, and must confess that Wolffe's British accent was a bit disconcerting when he read the voices of the American Really 2.5 stars - the author obviously put a lot into the book, and it didn't suffer from being particularly dry, for such a wonky topic. However, it did seem a bit dated (even after barely a year). Unfortunately for Wolffe, Jonathan Alter came out with a similar, somewhat (though not entirely) overlapping book The Promise: President Obama, Year One first. I listened to the audio, and must confess that Wolffe's British accent was a bit disconcerting when he read the voices of the American personalities, though in the end not a deal breaker.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Sub-Woodward (the comparison is not meant as a compliment) political tick-tock. Some illuminating moments, but mainly unsurprising if you have occasionally read the New York Times over the course of the past three years. Pedestrian, self-serving interviews are its backbone so I suppose that's not surprising. Even more frustrating, these pedestrian observations are bundled to support grandiose pronouncements. And, damn, its transitions are unwieldy. Still, it is a breezy four sitting read and Sub-Woodward (the comparison is not meant as a compliment) political tick-tock. Some illuminating moments, but mainly unsurprising if you have occasionally read the New York Times over the course of the past three years. Pedestrian, self-serving interviews are its backbone so I suppose that's not surprising. Even more frustrating, these pedestrian observations are bundled to support grandiose pronouncements. And, damn, its transitions are unwieldy. Still, it is a breezy four sitting read and features lots of Joe Biden quotes so it can only be so bad.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Enjoyed the book, though it felt a little unfocused and meandering in places. Overall, Jonathan Alter's "The Promise" offers a much more in-depth analysis of Pres. Obama's first year-plus in office, but if you're looking for a somewhat quicker read which primarily focuses on the period between the Massachusetts election and the passage of health care reform, this book might be for you.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I agree with other reviewers that this book lack objectivity and reporting. It was to focused on only a short period of time. I would not recommend it. I still like Richard as a pundit, but I would do a better job reviewing the book prior to buying it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Some interesting insight and access to Obama, but a bit disconnected as it looks at the health care debate and some of the foreign policy issues around 2010. Kind of blends in to the many other Obama inside access books that have come out recently.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leisha Wharfield

    This book is written by an insider who loves Obama, and it's not very informative. It's sympathetic, cheerleading, and would have benefited from another round of careful editing -- Wolffe's prose is mainly good, pleasant, and easy to read, so occasional lapses in its quality are noticeable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alvin Scott

    Good accounting of President Obama's struggles to get things done with a politically divided Congress. Also, does a good job characterizing the President and his inner circle of cabinet members and advisors.

  13. 4 out of 5

    yole

    this book highlights the struggle behind the scene of the white house team to pass the healthcare law

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eryina

    I liked reading about the situation within the White House - an inside look - i like Wolffe generally - an interesting book for those who suffer from a severe case of enjoying politics too much

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Eh...can't figure out if my dislike for this book was over the auther or the subject.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben LaMothe

    It was at times a bit too heavy on the Obama-adoration early on, but it got more focused/impartial near the middle. I learned a lot, too.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I love Richard Wolffe. I think maybe my disappointment with Obama shaded my ability to love this one...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Sopko

    Just started, but it seems to be a pretty in-depth look into the Obama White House just as the healthcare bill is signed into law.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liam

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Knox

  22. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janet Zehr

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Charles Peek

  28. 4 out of 5

    Henry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

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