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6 Reviews
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny book that makes some interesting points, October 24, 2001
Ehrlich has created an interesting book in writing Big Government. On average, it is quite funny throughout, although by about halfway through, it becomes too predictable and looses some of its punch. At the same time, Ehrlich isn't just trying to entertain - he is trying to make serious points about government, political campaigns, and how in both areas, our leaders fall far short of the ideals of public service (in Ehrlich's belief). In some cases, the juxtaposition of humor and serious points is a bit uneasy, as Ehrlich's writing strays away from satire and becomes more meditative and almost preachy. However, the book is punctuated with enough humorous barbs to keep it from boring the reader.
As a veteran of several Congressional campaigns, I have seen enough of the way that Washington works first-hand to find many of the situations and characters Ehrlich creates to be so realistic, yet so ridiculous, that they are purely hilarious. I'm really not sure that those who have never been on the "inside" of politics would find this book funny in the same way I did, but I think that anyone would find it at least mildly amusing. Another of the book's strong points is that Ehrlich keeps it short, making it an enjoyable read that I would recommend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! If Washington were only this funny...., October 8, 1998
It is amazing that Washington hasn't shut down from shame. Not from the silliness of multi-million dollar investigations into extra-marital sex, but from taking the natural material our nation's capitol provides and failing to make it as funny as Ev Ehrlich does in Big Government.
Ehrlich takes the innate ridiculousness of the national political scene and turns it into a fast paced flood of sublime humor. This is not a book about our current politcal quagmire, thank God, but you might think you recognize your representatives because the writing is that good.
Ehrlich has taken the sights, sounds, beats and personalities of Washington D.C. and turned them into a piece of tongue in cheek humor any author would be proud to call their own. This is an excellent piece of fiction that rakes politicians and their ambitious young staffers across the coals with a sneer and a guffaw.
If the politicians were this funny in real life, people might actually turn out to vote... just to have something entertaining to watch on the evening news.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and maybe accurate, January 9, 2000
Thirty years ago I worked as what is called today a spin doctor. I have a love/hate relationship with politics. I think Ev Ehrlich's book is really quite excellent, especially for a first-time novelist. It belongs to a long, honorable history of political burlesque. On occasion it's over-the-top, in a Carl Hiaasen kind of way. (That's high praise; I think Hiaasen is wonderful).
There's also a not-so-subtle, very disquieting subtext to the book, one that the author makes explicit in the closing pages. In short, among the fun there's also some serious food for thought here. This book would make a great movie, too. Let's hope some Hollywood producer picks it up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America to Congress: Send In the Clowns!, May 6, 2005
By 
Robert E. Olsen (McLean, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Big Government (Paperback)
Unless you are so unfortunate as to be, say, a principled naturalist, you are certain to find this political satire of small men in high places to be rollicking good fun. Ev Ehrlich could have spent part of the 1990s writing for Weekend Update or The Daily Show. Instead, he served as Under Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton administration. Whatever he nominally accomplished in his day job, however, he kept his eyes open and in this, his first novel, replicates to a T the dead-on seriousness and spaced-out wackiness of Washington political life.

"Big Government" describes the goings on in a town where an image-maker manages the re-election campaign of a Congressman in a coma; where investigating committees create public theater, rake in cash, and subvert public action; where power isn't the ultimate aphrodisiac, it's the only aphrodisiac (especially for a young journalism graduate eager to trade clipping press articles for running a Senate campaign); where a tax credit bill that would make it uneconomic to actually use the equipment for which the credit would be given can attract serious support; and where an evangelical accountant who calls himself Colonel sells salvation through wise investment planning.

Ehrlich has an ear for the patois of windbags. The sanctimonious stump speeches, the backroom deal-making, the moralizing and unfounded press releases, and the political strategizing set forth in "Big Government" are eerily accurate and even familiar, though stretched this way and that for comic effect. His plot structure is almost equally good. Characters who grab the reader's attention despite their mendacity and outsized ambitions bumble their way through one hilarious crisis after another in interacting plot threads. In my view the only wrong turn is a Capra-esque ending that pulls the camera way back above the homes of small town America to show good men and women doing whatever it is that good men and women do, though part of that might have been driven simply by the need to draw the book to a bloody close.

I have a theory about book-buying. If you can purchase a five-star-rated book second-hand for a penny, or a dime, or even a dollar, you ought to do so. I paid retail for "Big Business." It's that good. Robert E. Olsen
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful savage satire of Washington political culture., October 13, 1998
By A Customer
With this book, Ehrlich takes some large steps to becoming the Hiassen of the Potomac. Although this comedy of manners of the American political class presents this class as a group obsessed by the notion that their ego gratification is equivalent to making America better, Ehrlich accomplishes this with the insight of someone who is capable of forgiving the weaknesses of small people. As a result, the satire and farce of BIG GOVERNMENT never becomes mean spirited and always remains funny and on the mark. The unexpected twists and turns of the plot along with the crisp style of the prose keeps the reader asking what could possibly come next. This book is very enjoyable and makes a pleasant diversion from the other trashy, sexually pedantic political books of this election season.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incrediably funny, Ev Ehrlich is hilarious, October 4, 1998
By A Customer
This book relates too the government so well. Every seen is funny but I don't want to get into what the book is about because you should read it yourself!!!!!!
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Big Government
Big Government by Everett M. Ehrlich (Paperback - December 1, 1999)
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