From Face the Nation moderator and Slate columnist John Dickerson come the stories behind the stories of the most memorable moments in American presidential campaign history.

Listen to Slate’s Whistlestop podcast here

The stakes are high. The characters full of striving and ego. Presidential campaigns are a contest for control of power in the most powerful country on earth. The battle of ideas has a clear end, with winners and losers, and along the way there are sharp turning points-primaries, debates, conventions, and scandals that squeeze candidates into emergency action, frantic grasping, and heroic gambles. As Mike Murphy the political strategist put it, "Campaigns are like war without bullets."

Whistlestop tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems. At the bar at the end of a campaign day, these are the stories reporters rehash for themselves and embellish for newcomers. In addition to the familiar tales, Whistlestop also remembers the forgotten stories about the bruising and reckless campaigns of the nineteenth century when the combatants believed the consequences included the fate of the republic itself. Some of the most modern-feeling elements of the American presidential campaign were born before the roads were paved and electric lights lit the convention halls-or there were convention halls at all.

"Crack for the political junkie…Whistlestop is entertaining and informative, but it also is a timely reminder for those tempted right now to believe that, with the growing divisions in this country, all is lost. No matter how big the storm that throws us off course, we have a history of righting the ship and steering into calmer waters."
Washington Post

"As much as we arrogantly think our present political moment is new, it is not. Now, along comes this wonderful book to set us straight. It connects and interconnects signal campaigns from our 'glorious' past, where the same sausage making we decry today is on vivid, sometimes impressive, sometimes hilarious, display. Dickerson's artful time travel, so accessible but so eloquently written, will be red meat for anyone who counts themselves a politics carnivore-or anyone who cares about the fascinating mechanics of getting elected in the United States."
Ken Burns

"Filled with colorful characters and rollicking tales, this chronicle of exciting presidential campaigns is fun, informative, and enlightening. John Dickerson has a storyteller's touch and a historian's insight. It's nice to be reminded of the beauty and glory of American democracy at its best."
Walter Isaacson

"Dickerson's many years of experience covering politics informs his intriguing inside looks at how certain stories begin and how they grow… A politically astute, timely book that will also have great historical value for future campaigns."

Tour Dates and Events

Tuesday, August 2nd – New York, NY
City Winery
155 Varick St.
New York, NY 10013
Tickets Available Here
(Includes copy of the book)

Tuesday, August 9th – Pasadena, CA
Vroman’s Bookstore
959 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tickets Available Here
(Includes copy of the book)

Wednesday, August 10th – San Francisco, CA
Brava Theater
2781 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tickets Available Here
(Includes copy of the book)


John Dickerson is the moderator of Face the Nation, the Political Director of CBS News, and a columnist for Slate magazine. In the 2016 Election cycle he has interviewed every major candidate multiple times and was the chief moderator of CBS News' Democratic Debate.

Dickerson has been a reporter in Washington for almost 20 years covering the White House, Congress and political campaigns. Before joining Slate, Dickerson was with TIME magazine for almost fifteen years. His last four years he was the magazine's White House correspondent covering the presidency of George W. Bush. Dickerson is a co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest podcast as well as the host of Whistlestop, a podcast about campaign history. He is a regular guest on PBS's Washington Week, NPR's The Diane Rehm show and the Charlie Rose Show. He has also written for the New York Times and Washington Post. A native Washingtonian, he graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia with a degree in English and a specialty in American Studies.