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Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime Paperback – October 26, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Even before the book was out, its juiciest bits were everywhere: Sarah Palin was serene when chosen for V.P. because it was “God’s plan.” Hillary didn’t know if she could control Bill (duh). Elizabeth Edwards was a shrew, not a saint. Overall, the men from the campaign garner less attention in these anecdote wars than the women and tend to come off better—but only just: Obama, the authors note, can be conceited and windy; McCain was disengaged to the point of recklessness; and John Edwards is a cheating, egotistical blowhard. But, hey, that’s politics, and it’s obvious that authors Heilemann (New York Magazine) and Halperin (Time) worked their sources well—all 200 of them. Some (including the sources themselves) will have trouble with the book’s use of quotes (or lack thereof). The interviews, according to the authors, were conducted “on deep background,” and dialogue was “reconstructed extensively” and with “extreme care.” Sometimes the source of a quote is clear, as when the book gets inside someone’s head, but not always. Many of the book’s events were covered heavily at the time (Hillary’s presumed juggernaut; Michelle Obama’s initial hostility to her husband’s candidacy), but some of what this volume delivers is totally behind-the-scenes and genuinely jaw-dropping, including the revelation that senators ostensibly for Clinton (New York’s Chuck Schumer) pushed hard for Obama. Another? The McCain camp found Sarah Palin by doing computer searches of female Republican officeholders. A sometimes superficial but intensely readable account of a landmark campaign (librarians take note: the exceedingly flimsy binding may reflect the publisher’s haste to rush the book to press). --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A smoking new book. . . . The real revelation in Game Change: Campaigns turn our politicians into lunatics.” (Tina Brown, The Daily Beast)

“Heilemann and Halperin have conducted hundreds of interviews to provide the inside story of the 2008 campaign. . . . It vividly shows how character flaws large and small caused Obama’s opponents to self-destruct.” (Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review)

“A thoroughly researched, well-paced and occasionally very amusing read. . . . The result is something that conveys the feel, or perhaps more accurately the smell, of one of recent history’s most thrilling elections, and it does so better than any of the other books already on the market.” (The Economist)

“I can’t put down this book!” (Stephen Colbert)

“Compulsively readable. Once begun, you can’t put it down. . . . Deeply and knowledgeably reported and presented with all the cool sophistication one would expect from two accomplished political reporters.” (Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times)

“Riveting, definitive. . . . A great campaign book. . . . Halperin and Heilemann got insiders to cough up astonishing artifacts, including emails and recordings. . . . Game Change is really interesting, and puts you deep in the middle of it.” (Kurt Andersen, Very Short List)

“The hottest book in the country.” (The Associated Press)

“Everybody talked. Anybody that tells you they didn’t is lying to you.” (A former top Clinton aide, to Politico’s Ben Smith)

“The best presidential political book since What it Takes by Richard Ben Cramer and Teddy White’s books. These are the types of books that got me into politics.” (Joe Scarborough)

“An explosive new book. . . . An absolute page turner.” (Soledad O’Brien on Larry King Live)

“You’ve got to read Game Change. . . . I read each and every word. . . . Game Change is a great book.” (Don Imus)

“A fascinating account. . . . Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations. . . . Game Change leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

“Riveting. . . . Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits. . . . This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign. . . . And it doesn’t hurt that Game Change reads more bodice-ripper than Beltway.” (Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly)

“The authors of Game Change succeed in creating a plausible account of the emotional tumult of the 2008 campaign as it might have been—perhaps even was—experienced by the candidates, their spouses, and their staffs.” (Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker)

“An amazing piece of work. . . . One of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22. . . . An absolutely gripping read . . . they can write.” (Clive Crook, The Financial Times)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061733644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061733642
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,010 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is a great "behind the scenes" look at the 2008 presidential campaign.
Michael DENNISUK
If you can overlook this lack in the narrative and the sometimes thinly guised bias and occasional forays into Obama fawning, this book will not disappoint.
Mike
I'll be back to give my review once I read the book, the actual book not the Kindle version!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

873 of 983 people found the following review helpful By Todd Bartholomew TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Game Change" was not even on sale and it was already roiling the political waters with its shocking revelations. There is a rich tradition of books about presidential campaigns that break news not revealed during the campaign and "Game Change" has PLENTY of revelations. The one getting a great deal of play was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's inappropriate racially tinged comments about candidate Obama, which managed to be kept under wraps, while then-Senator Biden's made their way out. 2008 was the year of "Candidates Gone Wild," saying ridiculous and inappropriate things like Obama's comment on people clinging to their guns, religion, and bitterness. But there's so much here that never got out. Like Elizabeth Edwards, who has carefully cultured a public persona as the victimized suffering wife, belittling her husband John as a "hick" and in private launching into obscenity laced tirades at him and about him. Heilemann and Halperin examine both sides of the race and there are plenty of great gossipy stories on both sides, as well as other shocking revelations, such as how rushed the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as Vice-President was. We already knew that virtually no one in the Republican leadership was consulted over the choice and only know do we learn how rushed the decision was and how little thought or consideration was truly given to the choice. Moreover, the choice was primarily tactical in nature, designed to knock the Obama campaign off balance and off guard. Only after Palin was selected did the McCain campaign realize that they had made a huge tactical error they could not undo. The ensuing problems within the McCain-Palin campaign are chronicled here, but considering how much press there was at the time there's little here that breaks new ground.Read more ›
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242 of 270 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Game Change" is about the 2008 election. The most obvious question is "What could be new in this book - the campaign was already covered in incredible detail for nearly two years by bloggers, national media, local media - anyone with a camera and/or a link to the Internet. The answer is that most of the material concerns previously unreported personal details rather than much in the way of national policy or any sort of analysis of the electorate. The result is that whether you like it or not, "Game Change" has put the nation back into a supercharged 'gossip mode,' combining high-level scandals in the Clinton, Edwards, and McCain campaigns, with allegations of presidential unfitness in the Clinton, Edwards, and McCain-Palin campaigns, along with a bit of racism thrown in for good measure. This volatile mixture has since been ignited by "60 Minutes," "Good Morning America," and other TV interviews. Initial reaction from those named in the book has largely been denial, except for Senator Reid regarding his comments on Senator Obama's relatively benign blackness not being an impediment for the presidency. Denials, unfortunately, will probably go unrebutted - the book makes extensive use of unattributed quotes and deep-background interviews that don't permit fact-checking.

Sarah Palin clearly provides the juiciest material, mostly from McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt. It's a strange position - he led McCain to Palin, then lambasts her unfitness and poor preparation, and finally ends up admitting that without her it would have been worse.
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419 of 472 people found the following review helpful By DACHokie VINE VOICE on January 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amid the hoopla surrounding this book in the days prior to it's release, I couldn't wait to get a copy. Reading this book, I continually asked myself it was really worth all the hype or just a ratification of things I already knew. The last 10 years, the United States has been embroiled in such a divisive political atmosphere it comes as no surprise that most of the best-selling books are about politics and politicians ... intelligent books written about or by politicians have proven to be cash-cows that do nothing more than "energize the base" or fuel/ignite the opposition. "Game Change" gives me mixed feelings.

We should have known this was coming ... the implosion of political candidates is as entertaining as the losers that humiliate themselves on the American Idol auditions year-after-year. Years ago, a news periodical like Newsweek or Time would run juicy after-election articles documenting a defeated candidates horridly-run campaign that always included incidents of the candidate "losing grip" at one point or another. "Game Change" seemed to be nothing more than a compilation of such articles, but expertly welded together to create a generously smooth flow for the reader. In other words, other than the juicy details of the vitriol and carnage, the book didn't really reveal anything new about anyone or anything.

After all, the 24/7 news cycle already gives us more information than we need to know about all the subject matter in this book:

- we already knew obama was a "smooth operator"; intelligent and gifted at reading other people's speeches ... his outright cocky demeanor and his obvious, deep and admirable devotion to his wife and children.
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