Believer: My Forty Years in Politics with David Axelrod

Lecture Series

February 16, 2015


Assembly Hall

Believer is the tale of a political life well lived, sharing stories of Axelrod’s forty-year journey through the inner workings of American democracy. As a child of the 60s in New York City, Axelrod worked his first campaigns during a tumultuous decade that began with soaring optimism and ended in violence and chaos. As a young newspaperman in Chicago during the 1970s and ’80s, Axelrod witnessed another world transformed when he reported on the dissolution of the last of the big city political machines—Richard Daley, Dan Rostenkowski, and Harold Washington—along with the emergence of a dynamic black independent movement that ultimately made Obama’s ascent possible. After cutting his teeth in the world of Chicago journalism, Axelrod switched careers to become a political strategist. His unorthodox tactics during his first campaign helped him get Paul Simon unexpectedly elected to the Senate, and soon Axelrod’s counsel was sought by the greatest lights of the Democratic Party. Working for path breakers like Hillary Clinton, Deval Patrick, and Rahm Emanuel—and morally conflicted characters like Rod Blagojevich and John Edwards—Axelrod, for better and worse, redefined the techniques by which modern political campaigns are run.

The heart of Believer is Axelrod’s twenty-year friendship with Barack Obama. Taking a chance on an unlikely candidate for the U.S. Senate, Axelrod ultimately collaborated closely with Obama on his political campaigns, and served as the invaluable strategist who contributed to the tremendous victories of 2008 and 2012. Switching careers again, Axelrod served as senior adviser to the president during one of the most challenging periods in national history: working at Obama’s side as he battled an economic disaster; navigated America through two wars; and fought to reform health care, the financial sector, and our gridlocked political institutions. In Believer, Axelrod offers a deeper and richer profile of this extraordinary figure from the perspective of one who was at his side every step of the way.

David Axelrod was the Senior Strategist to 2012 Obama Re-election Campaign, the Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (2009-2011), Founder and Director of Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, and a NBC News/MSNBC Senior Political Analyst. A respected reporter and an esteemed political strategist with experience on the local, state, and national levels, his wisdom and knowledge of the political system is uncontestable.

Sponsored by the International House Global Voices Author Night Series and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Open to the public, RSVP required.  Register at