The “fly on the wall” look at campaigns has long been one of the most interesting and enthralling approaches to political reporting. Since the 1960s, books such as Theodore White’s The Making of the President series and Joe McGinniss’s The Selling of the President 1968 have told engaging stories with insightful personal details and drama. In the decades following, other authors joined in, including Bob Woodward and the now defunct team of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

White was the pioneer. A former Time magazine reporter who had written a novel, The Mountain Road (1958), later made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart, White had this idea of chronicling an entire campaign from a narrative perspective. He used the money from his novel to pay his expenses and travel the country, observing the various presidential hopefuls. In his book, he gave readers something they had never experienced before: an insider’s view of what candidates and their aides said to one another behind closed doors. As David Shribman wrote about White in 2012, “He was both dramaturge and playwright, and he transformed the U.S. presidential election from news story into docudrama.”

White’s The Making of the President 1960 was a cultural and political phenomenon, selling 4.2 million copies and winning a Pulitzer Prize. White

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