When we set out to report our fifth "inside story" of the race for the White House--a practice we began in 1984 in the tradition of Theodore H. White's "Making of the President" books--we knew it would be a great story. But we never dreamed how great. For the past year, a squad of NEWSWEEK staffers was dispatched to report on the race for the White House, giving the campaigns confidentiality until Election Day in exchange for in-depth access. Meanwhile, our regular political team--Jonathan Alter, Matt Bai, Martha Brant, Howard Fineman, Michael Isikoff, Mark Hosenball, Bill Turque and Debra Rosenberg and photographers Ron Haviv and Najlah Feanny--produced our weekly coverage. (David Hume Kennerly and Charles Ommanney shot for both.) The campaign history was edited by Kenneth Auchincloss and written by Evan Thomas with Peter Goldman. Eleanor Clift traveled with Al Gore, T. Trent Gegax with George W. Bush, Adam Rogers with Bill Bradley, and Goldman watched John McCain. Getting the inside detail was easier with some candidates than others. "I jogged with Al Gore in 1988, but this campaign was much more controlled," says Clift. Gegax, though, did get to run with Bush. "He's in incredible shape," says Gegax. "He tired me out." As you read our Special Election Issue, we think you'll agree it was worth it. And stay tuned for more, as the last act of what may be the most dramatic race ever plays itself out.