OFF SCRIPT: An Advance Man's Guide To White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, And Political Suicide

As a world-traveling "advance man," an operative who orchestrates TV- and photo-ready moments involving important political figures, Josh King has unique experience working with the reputations of officeholders, candidates and other public figures. In Off Script, King leads readers through an entertaining and illuminating journey through the Hall of Infamy of some of the most catastrophic examples of political theater of the last quarter century.


Don Baer

White House Chief Speechwriter, 1994-95, and White House Communications Director, 1995-98

“Josh King knows what he is talking about when it comes to political messages, because he was there, painting with ingenuity many of our most enduring images from the great canvasses of American politics and the U.S. Presidency. In Off Script, Josh gives us an unprecedented and a candid, fun look behind the scenes at the creative processes that have shaped the reputations of some of the most important political figures of our times.”

Mike Barnicle

MSNBC political analyst and columnist for The Daily Beast

“In the middle of a campaign, right at its core, are the major-league concierges, the people who can pick the right route, find the perfect setting, the best optics and the spot where a candidate canflourish while the press can find its way to a semi-good place to eat and drink. It’s a full time, full focus job that comes complete with hilarity, heartache, worry, weariness and the constant realization that what you do or don’t do can mean a good or a bad day for the candidate. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Josh King opens a window on the world of the tireless advance men and women who make any campaign work.”

Paul Begala

Senior Strategist, Clinton-Gore Campaign and CNN Contributor

“Politics is show business for ugly people. Josh King is the master of making political events look pretty. Off Script shows you how a master advance man works his magic.”

Jay Carney

White House Press Secretary to President Barack Obama, 2011-2014 and former Washington bureau chief, Time magazine

“Ever wonder what happens in a presidential campaign when the cameras are off, the doors are closed and no one’s looking? Find out in Off Script, a guide to the messy, ugly and sometimes poignant world of political stagecraft by one of the best practitioners in the business.”

Mark Halperin

Bloomberg Politics Managing Editor and Coauthor of Game Change and Double Down

“Discreetly leading the way in every campaign are the advance men and women who literally set the stage. Josh King, a Jedi master of that profession, vividly brings the image makers out of the shadows in Off Script.”

John Heilemann

Coauthor of Game Change and Double Down, cohost of Bloomberg TV’s With All Due Respect and Showtime’s The Circus

“In Off Script, Josh King takes us on a guided tour of the theater of politics as we rarely see it: from the other side of the proscenium, all the way back stage, and even into the performer’s dressing rooms. For those seeking to decode the power of image in the age of optics in our politics, King’s book is a must-read.”

Joe Lockhart

White House Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton, 1998-2000

“Josh King captures a truth in politics–our candidates need stage management on a grand scale to be elected and re-elected. Many gifted advance people have ushered leaders into power, but more importantly many have driven them back into private life. But King’s real insight is that in critical moments it’s up to the candidates to perform on the political stage or simply know enough to not put on the funny hat. A great read for anyone who wonders how the political sausage is made.”

Josh King

President Bill Clinton

Mike McCurry

White House Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton, 1995-1998

“Josh King is one of the most creative political visual artists of our time. He understands how image, picture, and content come together as one to communicate the messages that America sees and hears as it considers its national leaders. What could be more timely as we embark on a national election to pick our next president?”

Mark McKinnon

Co-creator and Co-executive Producer Showtime’s The Circus, and former chief media advisor to George W. Bush and John McCain

“Presidential politics is theater at the highest level. Successful events are huge productions that require master stage craft. Josh King is the Wizard of Oz of presidential advance. In Off Script, King pulls back the curtain to reveal the stories and secrets behind the making and sometimes breaking of presidents.”

Brad Meltzer

Bestselling author of The President’s Shadow host of History’s Decoded and award-winning comic book author

“Do you love the wicked brilliance of campaign stagecraft and the gilded lies that come with being a politician? Not as much as Josh King does. Off Script will show you why it’s an art form.”

John Podhoretz

Editor of Commentary, columnist for the New York Post and author of Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993

“Josh King has written a zippy, snazzy book about the inner workings of American politics and the thankless work performed by idealistic grunts who get no credit when things go well and all the blame when they go badly.”

Karl Rove

Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush and author of Courage and Consequence and The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

“Advance men (and women) are the wildest characters in most political campaigns, in my experience generally a mix of well-organized and half-crazy. In a rollicking ride though the last nearly three decades of presidential campaigns, Josh King chronicles some of the low – and high – moments created by, inflicted upon, or suffered through by the political wizards of stagecraft and appearance, presidential campaign advance teams. Quite a read!”

George Stephanopoulos

Chief Anchor of ABC News, co-host of Good Morning America and host of This Week

“Josh King has been at the top of the campaign game for more than 20 years — and Off Script takes us behind the scenes to show what works, what doesn’t and why. A must read for anyone who works on — or just loves — the Presidential trail.”

Danny Strong

Executive Producer and Showrunner of Empire on Fox Television, Producer and screenwriter of Recount, Game Change and Lee Daniels’ The Butler

“Off Script is the inside story of what really happened behind the scenes in the most infamous political campaigns in modern history. Josh King uses his unique perspective as a former campaign “advance” man and political observer to pull back the curtain and reveal the truth behind the spectacle. With the voice of a storyteller and the experience of a seasoned political operative, King deftly brings us along for the ride and shows us how and why these moments defined campaigns, toppled candidates and presidents alike, and forever changed the optics of presidential politics.”

Beau Willimon

Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner of House of Cards on Netflix

“Josh King’s nuanced insights into the world of political optics and spin is a must read for anyone who is interested in what really goes on behind the polished veil. He’s been both in the campaign trenches and seen the political landscape from 35,000 feet. His perspective is fascinating, entertaining and informative.”

Nicolle Wallace

White House Communications Director for President George W. Bush, MSNBC political analyst and bestselling author of It’s Classified, Eighteen Acres and Madam President

“Off Script is a deep dive into the juiciest and most fascinating aspects of modern day government and presidential politics. Perfectly written, there’s plenty of page turning drama for everyone from the White House history buff to the Hollywood screenwriter trying to get the smallest of details about White House stage craft exactly right. Josh nails it.”