Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders may be the least political person in politics—a brusque, unpolished, Jewish Socialist from Brooklyn with deep-seated convictions and distaste for small talk. He is also, at seventy-four, the rising star of the Democratic party, whose underdog bid for the presidential nomination has hit the marks of a serious contender: He’s competitive with, and in some cases leading, Hillary Clinton in early state polls. He’s closed the fundraising gap, and is drawing crowds of thousands to campaign rallies. Why? Because where most candidates are calculating and rehearsed, Sanders is frank, authentic, and impassioned. For thirty years, he has spoken out against income inequality, environmental injustice, and privatized healthcare. Now—amid an ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest, and growing voter disenchantment—the country is listening.

With reporting from inside the campaign, personal relationships with Sanders’s friends and colleagues, and meticulous research, noted reporter Harry Jaffe offers an engaging, insightful portrait of the ultimate outsider candidate, charting Sanders’s course from Brooklyn to Burlington, and now to Des Moines and beyond. Within the untold narrative of Sanders’s origins and political development, he also examines the growth of the progressive movement, and the recent developments—including the Occupy movement, the Great Recession, and the rise of the millennial generation—that have shifted Sanders’s views from fringe to focal point. At once a captivating biography, and a thought-provoking window into the contemporary political landscape, this will become the defining account of a pivotal moment in American history.

At once a captivating biography and a thought-provoking window into the contemporary political landscape, WHY BERNIE SANDERS MATTERS will become the defining account of a pivotal moment in American history.

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“At last, the most comprehensive account yet of the life and career of Bernie Sanders. Harry Jaffe has done a remarkable job in this lucid and engaging biography of the radical maverick who keeps defying the rules of political gravity. Whether you love Sanders or hate him, you need to read this book to fully understand him.”

Mark Feldstein, former CNN correspondent and author of Poisoning the Press

“Harry Jaffe’s deep reporting takes us into Sanders’s past to expose the forces that made him a socialist in his early days and the political prowess that propelled a child from Brooklyn to become Vermont’s U.S. Senator and a viable contender for the White House. It’s an improbable story, well-told.”

Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News

“Jaffe perfectly portrays Bernie Sanders as a product of Brooklyn in the 1950s, the biggest small town in America, the 4th largest city in the country, where each neighborhood was like a village. Jaffe’s reporting captures how Brooklyn and James Madison High School prepared Bernie Sanders to understand the history of the nation and the political and social issues of today.”

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and university professor of George Washington University and class of James Madison High School ’55