T his book is the eyewitness story of a momentous American election -- one in which power shifted between parties, ideologies, and generations, and the established political order was shaken by the strongest third-force challenge in eighty years. It is a work of narrative journalism, undertaken initially for Newsweek; a far shorter version appeared as a special issue of the magazine, published a day and a half after the last polls closed on November 3, 1992. But those of us involved in producing it understood even then that, in the course of a year and a half in the field, we had gathered a unique record of a rare moment in our political life -- a season in which, as one of our sources told us, something happened.
This book is that record, published whole for the first time. It was reported from a privileged inside position. Members of our special election team operated separately from the reporters, writers, and editors responsible for Newsweek's weekly coverage of the campaign. Our understanding with the various candidates, their staffs, and their consultants was that our findings would be held in strict confidence until after the votes had been counted. Had we come into any information explosive enough to change the outcome of the election, we would have proposed to our editors that we shut down the project and publish it. We found nothing so shattering as that, nor did we expect to. Our intent rather was to write what our late proprietor Philip Graham once referred to as a first rough draft of history -- an intimate look at the men and women who enter upon our quadrennial quest for the presidency and at the bumpy road they travel toward that prize.
Our passkey into their lives, their thoughts, their hopes, their fears, and their strategies was our promise of confidentiality and our history of having kept that promise in two past works in this series. They in turn offered us a degree of access they could not grant to the daily and weekly press and have rarely allowed to authors of past books in this genre. The most generous of all with time and entree, fortuitously, were Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and their aides and advisers.