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Dark Horse: A Political Thriller [Kindle Edition]

Ralph Reed
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, California governor Robert Long got robbed.

It's a tight race between Long and Senator Salmon Stanley for the Democratic nomination for president. When Stanley triumphs, Long's delegates walk out, the media has a field day, and Long and his team -- including ace political strategist Jay Noble -- pack their bags and go home, knowing that whether Stanley fought fair or not, it's the end of the line.

Unless...Would Long consider running as an independent? Independent campaigns of the past, such as those of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, have been more gesture than genuine threat -- but how might the Internet and modern communications technology change that? And are the American people so disgusted at the partisanship and gridlock of the two-party system -- in particular, is the right wing so fed up with the Republican Party -- that they would vote for an independent? Would Long even be able to get on the ballot in all fifty states?

A lively cast of characters struggles with issues of their own:

• Michael Kaplan, Senator Stanley's consigliere and alter ego, is a shrewd and ruthless campaigner -- but this time, has he gone too far? Can he avoid being indicted as scandal consumes the campaign?

• Harrison Flaherty is the incumbent vice president and the Republican nominee for president. He is confident of victory, but there remain major obstacles to his inauguration -- some that he is aware of, some that he cannot foresee...and some that can kill.

• Dr. A ndrew S tanton is a mega-church pastor and religious broadcaster whose millions of listeners (and their financial support) give him great influence in Washington. Vice President Flaherty wants and expects Stanton's support...but will Flaherty get it?

• Rassem el Zafarshan is in the United States with a band of terrorists, unlimited financing, and only one goal: to create an act of terrorism so horrific that it will make Americans forget about September 11, 2001 -- and bring about war between the United States and Iran. And in this election year, he knows just how to do it.

• Claire L ong, the wife of the governor, wants revenge against her husband's enemies, so she supports his presidential candidacy without question. But she has just one slight problem...

• Jay Noble has met a beautiful young woman who loves him, and he gets a second shot at winning a presidential campaign, one more chance to go out on top. But as the campaign grinds on, he has to wonder: Did he pick the right horse? And is the woman just too good to be true?

Author Ralph Reed's many years of political involvement at the highest levels have prepared him to identify and portray in fiction some of the most glaring problems in our current political system -- and to tell that story with characters so true to life that they could well be subjects of a news story.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, politics is a man's world to its very core—especially when it comes to the race for president, which is at the center of this first novel. Women characters are either wives with drinking problems, tarts who use sex to get ahead professionally (but not that far) or VP candidates chosen purely for show, who are belittled behind the scenes for lack of experience and lightweight intelligence. Democrats are drunks who play dirty and bloody each other's noses. Cue the white knight—Gov. Bob Long, newly come to Christ, a true independent candidate—to save the day, rock both parties' worlds and remind the country about good values and the meaning of patriotism. Long is God's candidate, and with Christian leaders taking his side, he just might trump Republicans and Democrats alike. Reed's prose is average for a potboiling political thriller, and the crisis-laden plot keeps the pages turning, but the novel's specifically Christian agenda will satisfy some readers and alienate others. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Only Ralph Reed is capable of extending a political thriller to the realm of the spiritual and the devotional. Dark Horse is an exciting read that beats even the real thing of 2008 for suspense and drama." -- Robert D. Novak, syndicated columnist and television commentator

Product Details

  • File Size: 655 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (June 3, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001AIRBU8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,966 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended escape from everyday real-life politics April 8, 2009
By Jeremy
In today's volatile political climate, it seems a novel about politics might be eclipsed by the real-life drama playing out in Washington and on news talk shows every day. Yet with an obvious insider's grasp of political life and surprising skill for a first-time novelist, Ralph Reed, a veteran political consultant and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, manages in Dark Horse to present a scenario that is almost as interesting and compelling, if perhaps not quite as dramatic, as the real thing.

The book opens with California governor Robert Long, a moderate Democrat, facing liberal Senator Salmon Stanley for the Democratic presidential nomination. When the Democratic National Convention gets underway with no clear frontrunner, tension rises as campaign aides for both sides work behind the scenes to try to pull out a victory. When the dust settles, Stanley is declared the winner, but Long is not ready to fade into political obscurity just yet--especially since Stanley's victory is marred by allegations of fraud.

Long's campaign chief, Jay Noble, heads to Mexico after the convention to nurse his political wounds, never suspecting that while on vacation he will meet the woman of his dreams. And when Long decides to run for president as an Independent candidate, Noble's vacation is cut short. From there, backroom deals and public grandstanding abound as Long and Stanley battle it out with the incumbent Republican vice-president and with each other.

As the scandal surrounding the Democratic nomination continues to make headlines, the careers of some of Washington's most powerful influencers are at risk. Meanwhile, Andrew Stanton, widely known as "America's pastor," wonders which candidate to support, ensuring the vote of the religious right.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look Behind the Curtain June 21, 2008
Dark Horse is a fast paced story that could have been easily lifted from newspapers or right off of the network news programs. Although it was a little challenging at the very beginning, probably due to the reader being dropped into the middle of a political process with a large cast of characters, Once you sort out the players the payoff is worthwhile. Ralph Reed has been involved in bare knuckled politics for many years. It is obvious from the tags for this book, that he continues to be a lightening rod of vitriol from his political adversaries. I suppose success brings both adoration and vilification.

Notwithstanding all of that, Dark Horse is a fun read, in the way that Bill Buckley's Blackford Oakes series are fun to read. One gets the sense that as this story unfolds the reader is treated to a behind the scenes look at the intrigue of a national campaign. Who better to let us in on that than one who has been in the center of many political storms over the years. Though Reed portrays politicians and religious leaders reasonably realistically, every one appears to be brawlers when the gloves come off in the heat of the battle. it is easy to imagine that much of the story was drawn from Reed's experience as a consultant in the political process and a former candidate for office himself. That little touch of realism makes the story that much more interesting.

If you are looking for a fun read with a little constitutional education and political drama, Dark Horse fits the bill. For the aspiring young politico, Dark Horse captures the heat and emotion and does so in a manner that one would not mind their kids picking up the book and reading it. Hopefully Ralph will give us another book in the no so distant future that extends the story line of some of the interesting characters we have met in this book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For The Politically Minded Only March 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Reed's interview on The Daily Show made this book sound more interesting than I found it. I appreciate the detail that went into the plot; and i appreciate the character development even better. But I was painfully bored with the story. And since i paid for the thing, i made myself hang in there until the end. There is a fun "thriller" scene buried in the middle of it somewhere that got my attention. Otherwise, for the non-political-junkies out there, don't do it. for the political junkies, it's probabaly a lot of fun.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disheartening Political Perspective March 13, 2010
Like a number of people, I'll at times visit with family, friends and colleagues about politics. The Conversation seems to intensify around the time of the general elections and all the more so with the recent drama of the Obama/McCain race. Palin/Biden were the extra spice in that particular recipe, if you will.

When a friend suggested I might enjoy Dark Horse, I thanked him and took the book home, expecting a fairly quick, entertaining and enlightening read. To be honest, I was very disappointed.

The novel purports to be a political thriller enhanced by a Christian perspective and perhaps bespeaks the manner in which many fundamentalists would like to see their candidates achieve high office. But unfortunately, it didn't work for me.

I was very disappointed in the characters. I did not find the protagonists credible or believable. In fact, I found it difficult to like them at all. The fact that Robert Long could alter his stripes so completely to accommodate his change in political circumstance seemed dishonest and frankly left me shaking my head in dismay. His staff seemed just as conniving and manipulative as the staff members of the opposition candidates of the two major parties.

I especially disliked the portrayal of the several evangelical megachurch ministers and pastors. They seemed to reflect a distasteful stereotype of certain present-day televangelists in $5000 suits asking for yet more money - for the good of their ministry and to foster one's personal blessings, I'm sure. I've heard and known personally a number of fine and excellent Christian ministers, pastors and priests and none were represented here.

The only character who seemed human and honest was Jessica Cruz, a high dollar call girl.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good read, But ending very weak
This book was okay and very well written, however I have a couple of major problems with it. First of all, it is very easy early on to know who is going to win the election. Read more
Published on December 23, 2011 by R. C. Lemos
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, but weak ending
Overall I would rate this book a good read. I enjoyed the flow of the book for the first 80%, but the last portion seemed to be paced much differently. Read more
Published on February 28, 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars riveting thriller
Immediately ordered other book by Reed. Found delivery was excellent and held my attention. Couldn't believe I hadn't heard about this book, as I am an avid reader. Read more
Published on December 12, 2010 by mrs leslie pope
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Horse Good Stuff
I found Dark Horse to be a page turner and a good inside look at the political goings on from various angles: the politicians, their handlers, the media, columnists, the justice... Read more
Published on April 11, 2010 by Ron D
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
We bought this for a gift for our son-in-law. He said the book is great and couldn't put it down!
Published on February 15, 2010 by Karlee
4.0 out of 5 stars good
I was expecting thriller but it was not what I thought of as a thriller. Jason Elam's books are thrillers to me and that was what I was expecting I guess. Read more
Published on February 12, 2010 by T. J. Buckmaster
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rip-Roaring Page-Turner Political Thriller
From the opening pages until the final sentence, Ralph Reed captured my attention and held it captive with his political thriller. Read more
Published on August 30, 2009 by W. Terry Whalin
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprised at author's talent!
I enjoy political thrillers and while the plot was unique, I anticipated the ending. However, the author's writing was better than most. Read more
Published on April 21, 2009 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising look at 'insider' politcs
This was a bit difficult to get into, but soon had my attention. I am amazed that anyone runs for public office, knowing the depths opponents will go to smear them. Read more
Published on September 28, 2008 by m.doob
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Horse
For political junkies, this is a fasinating book, especially as respects the present election. It is amazing that Ralph Reed could write a book that, in many ways, follows the... Read more
Published on September 22, 2008 by Joan H. Zellner
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More About the Author

Ralph Reed is the founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He was senior advisor to the Bush-Cheney campaigns in both 2000 and 2004 and chairman of the Southeast Region for Bush-Cheney '04. As chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, he led the GOP to its biggest victory in history. Reed is chairman and CEO of Century Strategies, LLC, a public relations and public affairs firm. As executive director of the Christian Coalition, he built one of the most effective public policy organizations in recent history. He is the best-selling author of six books. Reed and his wife, Jo Anne, live in Atlanta, Georgia. They have four children.


Topic From this Discussion
New Job?
He had credibility? That will be front page news./s
Apr 29, 2008 by William Decker |  See all 2 posts
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