The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated undercurrents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. The election played out against a backdrop of wars, a shattered economy and deep pessimism about the future. Journalists Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson follow this campaign from the candidates' first forays to Obama's victory celebration. They reveal the strategic mistakes of the Clinton campaign and the story behind Obama's breakthrough organization. They cover McCain's struggle for survival in the Republican primaries, Sarah Palin, and the economic meltdown. Exclusive interviews with the candidates and their top strategists produce intimate portraits of Obama, Clinton, and McCain under stress; they also move far off the campaign trail to listen to voters express their anxieties about the darkening economic climate and the challenges facing the U.S.