The Black Arts
How Opposition Research Weaponized the Truth and Changed Politics Forever
From a campaign operative and former staff member for President Obama, this brilliant dissection of modern politics is the first book to explain how political opposition research is done — and why it matters.
In the vein of Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker and Mark Leibovich’s This Town, Black Arts is the first-person narrative of a well-placed insider revealing the workings in a part of society that is as influential and powerful as it is unfamiliar. You’ll meet irreverent trash-talking campaign hacks and ordinary citizens volunteering in the “Resistance,” ride the ups and downs of an underdog Presidential campaign, and navigate through the fog generated by Trump’s political machine. John Burton shares the nitty-gritty details of how he finds and disseminates information and along the way, tell stories — some sobering, some hilarious — that have never been publicly told.
In our current moment of rising populism and distrust of institutions like “the media” and “the political establishment,” the lack of knowledge about how these institutions work becomes the vacuum in which distrust and conspiracy theories flourish. By offering a crystal-clear account of exactly how political campaigns and journalists interact, Burton interrogates the “fake news” debate, showing that a certain strain of populism grows stronger when we don’t understand how politics works. The Black Arts will empower the American people to participate in politics. Unafraid to “go low”, The Black Arts describes in unforgettable detail what it takes to win an election.
John Burton also has a powerful personal story. Growing up a black gay kid in working class Miami, he traced a path from the margins of our society through some of America’s most elite institutions of education, influence, and power. Perhaps the unlikeliest of political operatives, John Burton is an outsider’s insider.