08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail

April 12, 2009 | Graphic novels

The battle for the crown jewel of America’s political kingdom has rarely been more compelling than it was in ’08.
The U.S. Presidential race was one of the most engaging dramas of our time, pitting energetic Democrat newcomer Barack Obama versus straight-talking Republican veteran John McCain.
But perhaps even more gripping were the party races that preceded the main event.
With no incumbents running — president George W. Bush had reached his eight-year term limit (and was hovering around a 30 per cent approval rating) and vice-president Dick Cheney had his share of health issues and had no interest in the higher office — the race for the White House was wide open and it seemed like every Tom, Huck and Hillary was ready to throw their hat in the ring.
In 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail (Three Rivers Press, 160 pages, $19.95), Michael Crowley, senior editor at The New Republic, and Dan Goldman, artist of 2007’s highly acclaimed Shooting War, use the power of the graphic medium to examine an assortment of angles from the campaign trail to the impact of McCain’s years in a Viet Cong prisoner-of-war camp to Hillary Clinton’s (possibly contrived) tearful breakdown just prior to the New Hampshire primaries to Obama’s crowning moment on Nov. 4 in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Using actual quotes from all the public figures portrayed, and vivid likenesses of all the prime players including vice-presidential rivals Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, plus also-rans like John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and a supporting cast of real-life media members and political operatives, Crowley and Goldman craft an insightful and poignant memoir that gives life and energy to this odyssey that a simple history book, no matter how well written, could never accomplish.

(This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

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