What It Takes: The Way to the White House

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What It Takes: The Way to the White House
AuthorRichard Ben Cramer
CountryUnited States
Genre1988 United States presidential election
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
June 23, 1992
Media typePrint (hardcover)

What It Takes: The Way to the White House (ISBN 9780394562605) is a nonfiction book about the 1988 United States presidential election, written by Richard Ben Cramer.[1][2] It was published in 1992.[3] It follows the campaigns of Republicans George Herbert Walker Bush and Bob Dole and Democrats Joe Biden, Michael Dukakis, Dick Gephardt, and Gary Hart.[4]

The bulk of the book covers the early lives and political careers of the candidates, their campaigns leading up to the New Hampshire primary, and the primary itself.[5][6] Cramer spent six years researching and writing What It Takes.[7]

The book is frequently cited by political aides and journalists as one of the most influential books on politics ever written.[8][9]

Editorial reviews[edit]

Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Quite possibly the finest book on presidential politics ever written, combining meticulous reporting and compelling, at times soaringly lyrical, prose."[10]

San Francisco Chronicle: "The ultimate insider's book on presidential politics...an unparalleled source book on the 1988 candidates."[10]


  1. ^ Ben Smith (30 December 2010) The book that defined modern campaign reporting Politico. Retrieved 20 December 2013
  2. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (August 2, 2011). What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781453219645 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Election by Ordeal : WHAT IT TAKES: The Way to the White House By Richard Ben Cramer, (Random House: $28; 1,047 pp.)". Los Angeles Times. July 12, 1992.
  4. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: What It Takes: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer, Author Vintage Books USA $25 (1072p) ISBN 978-0-679-74649-2". PublishersWeekly.com.
  5. ^ Ball, Molly (January 8, 2013). "What I Learned From Richard Ben Cramer". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ Troy, Gil (1995). "Stumping in the Bookstores: A Literary History of the 1992 Presidential Campaign". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 25 (4): 697–710. JSTOR 27551506.
  7. ^ "Book Review: 'What It Takes: The Way to the White House'". EW.com.
  8. ^ Warren, By Ellen. "'What It Takes': A true political classic". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  9. ^ Ball, Molly (2013-01-08). "What I Learned From Richard Ben Cramer". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  10. ^ a b "What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer: 9780679746492 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com.

External links[edit]