Most helpful positive review
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Lewis' best book
on December 10, 2002
This Michael Lewis work got buried, but I think it's his finest writing. Yes, "Liar's Poker" will be called upon 50 years from now (along with 'Bonfire of the Vanities' and 'Den of Thieves') as one of the seminal works of the 80s. And 'The New New Thing' captured a lot of the flavor of the 90s (although revisionist history re. Jim Clark's 'success' is eating away at the book's premise). But in terms of insight, humor, cynicism, getting to the essence of people's characters...I think Lewis surpasses himself here.
I read the hardback version of this book, which was called 'Trail Fever." I never liked that title, but I think I like 'Losers' even less. Yes, it was a chapter title in hardback version, but the real losers in Lewis's book are the so-called winners, Clinton and Dole. By contrast, Lewis shows the strength of character of the putative losers, especially in compelling profiles of Morry Taylor, Alan Keyes, and even Pat Buchanan.
What I especially liked about the book was Lewis' fight not to get totally taken over by what seems to be his naturally skeptical and cycnical view of the world. In fact, the best writing in the entire book deals with John McCain (Lewis is an unabashed McCain fan here, four years before that sentiment became in vogue) and - in particular - McCain's relationship with Clinton advisor David Ifshin. This chapter is very far removed from a skeptic's view. In fact, the emotion of the McCain/Ifshin relationship brought me to tears, as I think it would anyone.
Lewis is also affected by the stark honesty and un-political-ness of Morry Taylor, who is a real revelation here. And despite being on an entirely different plane politically than Alan Keyes, Lewis never ceases to be amazed at Keyes' blindingly brilliant oratorical flights of fancy.
Here's another neat thing about the book (well, the hardcover version at least)...elliptical asides about Tabitha Soren (of MTV 'Choose or Lose' fame), a later reference to 'my houseguest at the time,' and an acknowledgement to the help of one 'Tabitha Sornberger' (Soren's real name). She became Mrs. Michael Lewis not long after the publication of this book.