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A Time to Run: A Novel Paperback – August 10, 2006

3.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The three-term senator from California—newly and handily re-elected in 2004—offers a debut novel to relate "a story I had long wanted to tell." Aspiring political activist Josh Fischer and aspiring journalist Greg Hunter are best friends and roommates at 1970s Berkeley; Josh is dark, sensitive and liberal; Greg is blond, gregarious and leans right. When the two meet Ellen Downey, a petite redhead with a steely determination to make the world a better place, romantic entanglements ensue, with Ellen ultimately marrying Josh shortly after graduation. Josh runs for political office, Ellen heads a mentoring program for at-risk kids, and Greg, married to a wealthy socialite but still in the picture, works as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. When Josh dies during his Senate campaign, Ellen assumes his candidacy and scores an upset victory; the book opens on the eve of a vote regarding a controversial Supreme Court nominee, with Greg appearing in Ellen's office holding incendiary documents that could alter the course of history—or level her career. All of this is by-the-numbers stuff, but Boxer brings been-there nuance to the backbiting, hazardous personal disclosures and naked power mongering of California and Washington politics. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On the eve of the nomination of an ultraconservative Hispanic female Supreme Court justice, liberal Senator Ellen Fischer of California is given the perfect weapon: sensitive documents that could wreck the nomination. With less than 24 hours to take action, Ellen is bombarded with advice from her aides. But she doesn't trust the source of the damning information, Greg Hunter, darling of the right-wing conservatives, a former lover, and a longtime friend of hers and her deceased husband, Joshua. It was Joshua's accidental death on the eve of his election to the U.S. Senate that propelled Ellen's reluctant career as a politician. Hunter's offer provokes memories of how the three became friends: Joshua and Greg were roommates at the University of California at Berkeley, destined for sterling careers in the law and journalism. She was a budding social activist for children's causes. They became fast friends until Josh's proposal redefined their relationships. The ensuing years brought challenges to youthful idealism and the lure of power and wealth as the three made lives and careers for themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area. Across the years and across the country, Ellen and Greg eventually come to a showdown in the nation's capital. Boxer, a U.S. senator, brings an insider's knowledge of politics to this compelling novel of friendship, idealism, and corruption and the behind-the-scenes machinations that go into political deals. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811856542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811856546
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,893,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this novel, there is no "insider's knowledge of politics," it is not "what politics is reallly like," and it is not "authentic and compelling." Kirkus Reviews offers this admonishment: "Short on subtlety and insider dish." Nor is this novel "compelling, terrific, entertaining, or dramatic." It is, as Publishers Weekly mildly points out, "by-the-numbers stuff." And even with a professional co-writer, and even though this book is a seven-year labor of love - "a story I had long wanted to tell" - it is written in the style of an overwrought high-schooler.

All the liberals are smart, principled, and are dedicated and effective good-deed-doers. All the conservatives are greedy, corrupt, and yes, even evil. An intelligent, accomplished, and conservative Supreme Court nominee is implausibly naive. The story is melodramatic; the characters are two-dimensional. I had high hopes of gleaning genuine political savvy from "someone who really knows," but Boxer decided to write a pedestrian political thriller that doesn't inform or thrill.

One reviewer wrote about the sex scenes in this book. Don't get your hopes up about those, either. And now I know why Boxer, who is my senator, hasn't responded to any of my letters to her office; she and her staff have been too busy working on this novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I was a bit skeptical when I picked this up but I was drawn into the book almost immediately. It's fun story with engaging characters and the action unfolds quickly enough to keep you interested. But what makes this book really worth reading is that you feel like you are getting an insider's view of DC politics, power brokers, campaigning, and the Supreme Court nomination process. And of course you ARE getting an insider view since this written by Barbara Boxer, but because it's fiction and not a political memoir you get it without all the rhetoric and politicking!
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Format: Hardcover
While reading this book, I'm reminded of a high school English class where we tried to impress each other by reaching for words and descriptive phrases, but we would wind up cluttering the ideas in a blob of words. The senator tries to be eloquent but it comes off to me as forced and melodramatic. I'm only half way through because I can only stand reading it ten pages at a time.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd say it's actually more like 3 1/2 stars. It's definitely worth the read. It won't win any literary awards, but then neither will a lot of the popular novels out there. I think she did a good job with this, and can't help but wonder if some of the negative reviews have more to do with people not liking Boxer herself as well as her liberal leanings.
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Format: Hardcover
...and who's going to admit to being a Cheney fan these days??

It seems like a couple of the reviews here are about Boxer, not her book. Yes, I bought it because I am a fan--and then I read and got totally into it. Her personality really shines in this book. It's knowledgeable about the scene, witty, sharply insightful, fast-paced. Like the Senator herself. A great plane read, full of the colorful behind-the-scenes politicking and some interesting characters, I just had an enjoyable time reading it. And if you are a Cheney fan, well, that's your issue to grapple with. Just enjoy the book, okay?
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Format: Paperback
I've been reading a lot of books on politics of late, and it seems like the reviews tend to be a function of how well the author's views square with that of the readers'. This certainly seems to be the case here, where the reviews are very polarized.

This in truth is something of an odd novel. It's the prehistory of a fictional California senator framed book-ended by a short story about a controversial nomination to the Supreme Court. The prehistory starts in Berkeley in 1974 and is a love/hate triangle following the future senator, her husband and a mutual friend. As another review noted, it's chic lit, pure and simple.

The book tends to wear its faults on its sleeves. The short story about the Supreme Court nomination is too easy, requiring little of the senator, who benefits from a deus ex machina gift of knowledge. The conservatives are cartoonish in their villainy, which is a little disconcerting. (Even letting expression plausible rationalizations for their behaviors would have gone a long way toward making them seem human.) There is a sociopathic character who has to evolve. That's something that would be remarkably hard to pull off, and the novel doesn't quite do it. And some parts are quite frankly poorly written.

The strange thing is that it feels like the parts that Boxer probably wrote herself are much better than those written by her professional author counterpart. The contrast is most obvious in the opening two chapters. In the first a senator and her staff discuss how to oppose a Supreme Court nomination. The writing is pretty credible and tight. The next chapter has two former lovers reuniting.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm typically not into books of this genre, but when I saw the article about the Senator in the New York Times magazine last weekend, I was very intrigued. So, I wnet out and bought the book and could not put it down! It was so reflective of what is happening with the Supreme Court nominations and an absolute delight to read. I've always admired Senator Boxer, but now that I know that she can write AND have a strong voice in politics, I am a fan forever.
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