... terrific ... That real insurrection is the subject of this timely and important volume. The authors have used a stethoscope to examine the minutia of the American election process. The result is a thrilling and suspenseful celebration of the survival of democracy ... Their book performs a vital service, demonstrating just how well our tattered democracy managed to function despite vicious partisanship and all the new challenges created by the pandemic. For the first time, I understood how brilliantly new machines used to count the votes performed, the intricacies of opening outer and inner envelopes, capturing the images of both then preserving the vital paper ballots inside, making it possible to confirm electronic results with a hand count in case of any failure in technology ... Bowden and Teague have performed a singular service by revealing the details that disprove Republicans’ unceasing inventions about voter fraud ... If democracy does prevail, it will survive because of the ability of authors like Teague and Bowden to make the truth even more compelling than Fox News fictions.
... a lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks of the Trump administration ... what The Steal offers is a view of the election through the eyes of state- and county-level officials.
... a gripping ground-level narrative ... a marvel of reporting: tightly wound, as you might expect from Bowden...but also panoramic—a kaleidoscope of stories about how officials and activists in pivotal states like Arizona and Georgia responded to Trump’s false claims of election fraud. To Bowden and Teague’s credit, they give zero credence to these claims. Yet they provide sincere, if not sympathetic, insight into the thinking of those who believe them and how they acted on those beliefs ... The result is a narrative that mirrors the way elections are actually run in the United States: state by state, county by county, precinct by precinct. Rather than focus on the president’s wild claims and increasingly comical legal challenges, The Steal centers on the people doing the decentralized work of American elections: manning polling stations, counting ballots, certifying results, considering legal challenges and overseeing all these activities on behalf of the parties ... The internal monologues of disillusioned citizens like Stenstrom and Hoopes are what make The Steal so readable and revealing. They are also a little frustrating. It’s never entirely clear if you are hearing their voices or Bowden and Teague’s. I don’t expect everyone to share my footnote fetish, but I did crave greater clarity about when I was reading a more or less verbatim recounting of interviews as opposed to a journalistic reconstruction ... Far more important, Bowden and Teague say nothing about how the overwrought suspicions, patent misbeliefs, and elaborate but false theories articulated by these radicalized voters might be effectively countered. Here is where the limits of the journalistic approach loom large—and the need for a deeper diagnosis becomes apparent.