‘Citizen’s Guide’ Documents Dean’s Rise

Posted November 7, 2003 at 1:31pm

A new book asking “Who is Howard Dean?” has come out just as fast as the former Vermont governor turned presidential candidate jumped to the front of the Democratic pack for the 2004 presidential election. “Howard Dean: A Citizen’s Guide to the Man Who Would be President” will hit bookstore shelves Saturday.

“We did some preliminary planning [on the book, but] in June, Howard wasn’t looking really good,” said Dirk Van Susteran, who edited the book. “The next month, the money starts rolling into the campaign … and the poll in California showed him right at the top with possible democratic voters.”

“After the poll, we said, ‘Hell, let’s just do it.’”

Together with a team of nine Vermont journalists, financing from Vermont’s Rutland Herald newspaper, its sister paper the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, and Steerforth Press, Van Susteran churned out a book in only two months.

“It was an incredible marriage between a book publisher and a newspaper and freelance writers. A marriage of three entities — and it worked,” said Van Susteran.

“A Citizen’s Guide” documents Dean from his childhood background, his time as governor, and his grassroots Internet campaign. The final chapter, “What Kind of President?” is a projection by Jon Margolas, a former writer for the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek, of what kind of president Dean would be.

The book opens with the scene that rallied Democratic supporters to Dean when he stepped up to the microphone at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee in 2003 and blurted, “What I want to know is why so many Democrats in Washington aren’t standing up against Bush’s unilateral war in Iraq. My name is Howard Dean, and I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

Twenty-five-thousand books have been printed, with a planned update and second printing in December. The 245-page paperback includes photos, interviews with the Dean campaign, and the insight of reporters who have followed his career from the time Dean was governor.

“We’re planning several more printings,” said Chip Fleischer of Steerforth Press. “There’s been a high level of interest.”

Van Susteran insists that the book is not meant to be a pro-Dean propaganda but rather a way to “open reader’s eyes.”

“I think there are things in this book that Dean isn’t happy with,” said Van Susteran. “This is just straight-away journalism — we looked at his record, we interviewed him and lots of other people. It’s a piece of journalism.”