Sponsor: "What It Takes" by Richard Ben Cramer
In honor of Presidents' Day, our sponsor is one of the great pieces of political reporting in American history: What It Takes, Richard Ben Cramer's masterful account of the 1988 presidential election.
With a level of access impossible to imagine today, Cramer delves into the personal, intimate lives of the key candidates as he seeks to understand the drives, passions, egos, and failings that transform an individual into a president. Cramer goes particularly deep on Joe Biden, then 47 and making his first presidential run. Here is an extended excerpt of that section.
When Richard Ben Cramer passed away last year, we collected his greatest articles in this Longform guide. But What It Takes is his masterpiece, a book that exposes the emotional reality of politics and defined modern campaign reporting.