Confessions of a Campaign Manager Book Review
Full disclosure: I was given a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I am not usually the type to read about politics in a straight manner. However, since I recently read Confessions of a Campaign Manager by Bharat Krishnan, it allowed me to have a greater understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of a political campaign.
Confessions of a Campaign Manager is a memoir about Krishnan’s involvement in politics for roughly a decade. It all started with hearing a racist comment spoken by a senator against an Indian American and ended with him realizing that working on various Democratic campaigns was taking a toll on his life.
Krishnan writes his memoir in the most honest manner possible, while also balancing the fine line between conventional and analytical prose. For instance, he has a chapter called “Race Problems”, in which he discusses how American politics has tackled these issues within the last decade. He takes a two-tiered approach by utilizing both various articles and personal experience as an Indian American to discuss how America has refused to talk about its racist past, which has now exploded into the headlines. To balance that out, he offers some suggestions to improve race relations like allowing all kinds of people – women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientations, etc. – to run for all levels of office.
In addition, it contains some interesting stories about various campaigns that he worked for. For example, while Krishnan was working on a campaign for an Indian American politician looking to get into local office in northern Virginia, he gave him a discounted rate for his services since he wanted to see a person of his own heritage win. To justify this, he put a fundraising bonus into his contract, so when they raised a certain amount, he got said bonus. They did reach that amount, but Krishnan was not given the bonus because the politician refused to honor that part in the contract. These and other stories paint a real picture of the campaigning world.
Coincidentally, the one story that does not directly involve campaigning was arguably the most impactful. That story was about Kevin Sutherland – Krishnan’s friend from college who was stabbed to death on July 4, 2015. Krishnan relates that he took plenty of advice from Kevin, including the importance of paid internships and of family. The latter made Krishnan realize that he “didn’t want to waste [his] life in random states in an office late at night” (p. 58).
Additionally, Krishnan gives advice for anybody who is looking to get into politics, including how much time one is willing to be away from family, starting out at the grassroots level, and how much money to raise depending on the position in office. It helps that the chapters are relatively short. However, this advice is targeted more towards Democrat-leaning readers. While I personally do not have a problem with this, I can see it alienating readers who could have loyalty to the Republican party.
Overall, Confessions of a Campaign Manager by Bharat Krishnan is a very useful book for anyone looking to work in a political campaign. Even though he has a bias for Democrats, he is still very honest and analytical while writing in an effective conversational tone with short chapters to help keep readers glued to the book.
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