From Publishers Weekly
An equally apt title for this would be Anatomy of a Politico, for in reading this life of the man who made negative campaigning a household word, introduced the concept of the permanent campaign and is credited with helping Bush beat Dukakis in 1988 with the Willy Horton issue (about a pardoned recidivist), one senses that Atwater lived for little else than politics. While claiming that no one knew Atwater well, Brady (The Craft of Interviewing) fleshes out the life of South Carolina-born Harvey Leroy (Lee) Atwater with pertinent aspects of his upbringing, marriage and life in politics. He details the rise of Atwater from greenhorn to Beltway insider, where he became chairman of the Republican National Committee, "the first professional political consultant to head either political party." A strength of Brady's presentation is that he lets readers decide what they think of his protagonist, by whom he seems fascinated, though not to the point of losing his objectivity. Although there's more dope here than some might wish, a full-bodied view emerges of the man whom brain cancer struck down at age 40 in 1991, when he was near the height of his powers.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Prior to his death from cancer at age 40 in 1991, Republican campaign manager Lee Atwater was one of the most admired and hated men in American politics. His greatest accomplishment was guiding Vice President George Bush to a comeback victory over Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988. Bush's comeback was partially the result of Atwater's skillful use of "attack" television commercials directed at Dudakkis's record as governor of Massachusetts. Even before the 1988 campaign Atwater had acquired a reputation for negative and mean-spirited campaigning. Journalist Brady's biography not only documents Atwater's considerable political talents but also examines the often manipulative relationships that were a major part of Atwater's professional and private lives. Brady does not present sufficient evidence to justify his characterization of Atwater as "the best political campaign manager who ever lived," but his book is an excellent introduction for lay readers to the career of a man who helped define the modern political campaign.?Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.