A Long Time Coming builds a great sense of drama as it delves into the stories behind the scenes – the Clinton-Obama struggle, the McCain-Palin ticket, the infighting and backstabbing, and ultimately the graceful emergence of a man born to be a leader.
The book is split into seven chronological chapters (plus intro, epilogue and a bonus interview with Obama). At first, they alternate between Obama’s and McCain’s primary campaigns – Obama’s vicious, grinding battle with the Clinton machine, the Clinton campaign’s infighting and self-immolation; McCain’s near political death (the chapter’s titled “Back from the Dead”), and subsequent victory, months ahead of an end to the Democratic contest (which he was never able to fully take advantage of). Then we move on to the national campaign, and two distinct characters emerge: Obama, clear-headed and calm, professorial, self-aware, and in control of his team. McCain, on the other hand, seems a little at sea, events spiraling out of his control with a needy base and unnecessary constraints on his character. The debates are analysed, and McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as vice-president is covered in-depth, as are the resultant problems she causes for McCain by going “rogue”, later described by staffers as a “wacko” and “diva”. (Obama’s choice of Biden is dealt with rather quickly.)