The Fighting Soul: On the Road with Bernie Sanders

Ari Rabin-Havt. Liveright, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63149-879-4

The maverick socialist senator from Vermont flouts the norms of presidential politics in this rollicking campaign memoir. Rabin-Havt (Lies Incorporated), deputy manager of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, catalogues the ways in which Sanders defied the rules: he disdained polls; eschewed big-money fund-raising; avoided schmoozing with Democratic potentates (though he embraced ideological soulmate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez); remained clueless about celebrity culture; and was “genuinely confused and uncomfortable” about his own late-in-life fame. What Sanders did do, tirelessly, was talk about inequality, injustice, and progressive policies—especially Medicare for All—to audiences large and small, in any and every situation. (Riding in an ambulance to the hospital during a heart attack, Rabin-Havt reports, Sanders questioned the paramedics about their insurance status and views on the healthcare system.) Rabin-Havt’s account of the Democratic primary race is breezy, colorful, and often insightful, but also evasive in blaming Sanders’s defeat on the Democratic Party establishment’s animus toward him without considering whether his left-wing politics were acceptable to most voters. Still, the portrait of Sanders as a crusty but caring man, passionately committed to principles and the interests of working-class people, vividly shows why he is one of America’s most influential politicians. Photos. Agent: Will Lippincott, Aevitas Creative Management. (Apr.)