cover image Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency

Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. Crown, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-0-525-57422-4

Fortunate breaks allowed Joe Biden to overcome a slow start, uneven stump performances, and shoddy fundraising on his way to the White House, according to this familiar rehash of the 2020 election. Among the fortunate twists of fate, journalists Allen and Parnes (Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign) point to a technological glitch that allowed Biden to temporarily hide his disastrous fourth place finish in the Iowa caucuses; Elizabeth Warren’s evisceration of Michael Bloomberg, Biden’s main rival for centrist Democrats, on a Las Vegas debate stage; and Rep. James Clyburn’s unexpectedly emotional endorsement of Biden ahead of the South Carolina primary. But at least one Biden staffer privately admits that the luckiest break was Covid-19, which took the air out of the Democratic primary right after Biden’s Super Tuesday victory and gave him a credible reason to “lay low” while President Trump bungled the response to the pandemic. Allen and Parnes shed light on President Obama’s doubts that Biden could win, and reveal that Hillary Clinton gave “serious consideration” to entering the race in November 2019. But much of the analysis will be old hat to news junkies, and attempts to add color (Bernie Sanders played catch with his advisors; Jill Biden sipped “fine wine”) mostly fall flat. The result is a well-sourced yet unenlightening run-through of recent history. (Mar.)