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McCain's Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express with John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking About Hope [Kindle Edition]

David Foster Wallace , Jacob Weisberg
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Is John McCain "For Real?"

That's the question David Foster Wallace set out to explore when he first climbed aboard Senator McCain's campaign caravan in February 2000. It was a moment when Mccain was increasingly perceived as a harbinger of change, the anticandidate whose goal was "to inspire young Americans to devote themselves to causes greater than their own self-interest." And many young Americans were beginning to take notice.

To get at "something riveting and unspinnable and true" about John Mccain, Wallace finds he must pierce the smoke screen of spin doctors and media manipulators. And he succeeds-in a characteristically potent blast of journalistic brio that not only captures the lunatic rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign but also delivers a compelling inquiry into John McCain himself: the senator, the POW, the campaign finance reformer, the candidate, the man.

Editorial Reviews


"Wallace's inexperience as a campaign reporter is an advantage here, leading to unvarnished insights." (Miami Herald Ariel Gonzalez )

"Bracingly insightful." (New York Times Book Review Pankaj Mishra )

"Wallace conveys a geniuine disillusionment at the sham of the whole arrangement: the endless political posturing, the robotic news coverage...At the same time, he recognize's McCain's essential magnetism." (Los Angeles Time Book Review Steve Almond )

"Compelling...A patient and thoughtful meditation on what McCain's military past-specifically, his five-plus years as a prisoner of war-means about his moral fiber." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution Kevin Canfield )

About the Author

David Foster Wallace is the author of two novels, Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System; three story collections, Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Oblivion; and two nonfiction collections, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and numerous other awards.

Jacob Weisberg is an editor of Slate magazine, a columnist for the Financial Times, and a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. His writings have also appeared in The New Republic, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and the New York Times. His books include the bestselling Bushisms series and the 2008 bestseller The Bush Tragedy.

Product Details

  • File Size: 451 KB
  • Print Length: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st Back Bay Pbk. Ed edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001ANYC6Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #842,905 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
By jubster
Given DFW's recent tragic death (and the election timing of this re-release), I'd imagine alot of folks may now discover this book. What Wallace wanted current readers understand about the context, he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview from June 2008. Here's the excerpt:

"The essay quite specifically concerns a couple weeks in February, 2000, and the situation of both McCain [and] national politics in those couple weeks. It is heavily context-dependent. And that context now seems a long, long, long time ago. McCain himself has obviously changed; his flipperoos and weaselings on Roe v. Wade, campaign finance, the toxicity of lobbyists, Iraq timetables, etc. are just some of what make him a less interesting, more depressing political figure now--for me, at least. It's all understandable, of course--he's the GOP nominee now, not an insurgent maverick. Understandable, but depressing. As part of the essay talks about, there's an enormous difference between running an insurgent Hail-Mary-type longshot campaign and being a viable candidate (it was right around New Hampshire in 2000 that McCain began to change from the former to the latter), and there are some deep, really rather troubling questions about whether serious honor and candor and principle remain possible for someone who wants to really maybe win. I wouldn't take back anything that got said in that essay, but I'd want a reader to keep the time and context very much in mind on every page."
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119 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a new book! May 27, 2008
By taews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have read Consider the Lobster, you have already read this book! I feel very deceived to have bought it. This newly released book is a chapter from Consider the Lobster for which Wallace spent time with McCain's campaign bus in 2000! This is NOT about the current 2008 campaign. I'm extremely disappointed at the crass commercialism of the publisher and/or Wallace for re-releasing old stuff with a new name just to cash in on the current presidential campaign. I should have given it 1 star, but if someone has not read the piece already, he or she would enjoy this book.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Originally from Consider the Lobster September 16, 2008
So if you have any interest in his other essays, read that book instead of this one. While this is not a bad essay, note the timing of its re-release during a year when McCain is running for the Presidency of the US. Note also that Wallace, recently deceased, had changed his opinion of McCain, as per an interview he gave in May 2008: [...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful in the light of the '08 campaign December 19, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of David Foster Wallace's nonfiction, I think this is probably a must-read. It faces squarely off against his fascinations with issues of ethics and authenticity, and shows him in a troubled frame of mind. I can't say how much editing was done recently, but this is technically the last book he published before his death so it's also got that grim recommendation.

By turns it's uncomfortably funny and fascinating, and it paints a portrait of McCain that's remarkably insightful in the light of the recent campaign. It's DFW at the top of his nonfiction game.
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By Nicole
This is a really brilliant piece, and significantly more engaging than your standard "inside politics" story.

It's fun and accessible, and like much of Wallace's nonfiction, feels like a good story from a friend who's very clever but more than a bit inept human interaction, but who's ultimately very sweet and humble and compassionate.

Interestingly, it doesn't really try to make a political point in a conventional sense, but rather spends its time looking at the way campaigns are structured and run and how fundamentally ridiculous and wasteful the whole system is, then moves to discussing the interplay of authenticity and advertising in our modern age. It's endlessly fascinating, even fourteen years later, since the focus on large social/political issues instead of partisan ones makes the individual setting more interesting and timeless.

It's definitely worth reading, both for Wallace fans, and those of us who just like engaging long-form journalism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique political reporting January 30, 2013
By Chris
Looking back after the Bush II and Obama administrations, it might be hard to imagine why there would be something promising about McCain or why he would be the subject of a fascinating campaign book. Over the past twelve years, McCain has calcified into a strictly partisan politician. At the time the book was written, McCain was more of the maverick that he claimed to be in the 2008 election. In 2000, McCain was the less-polished, more sincere alternative to the establish-picked George W. Bush.
This brief book (originally this was a piece for Rolling Stone, that was severely cut to fit the magazine) follows McCain in South Carolina after his surprise win in the New Hampshire primaries. Because Wallace was writing for Rolling Stone, Wallace was not granted any access to the candidate. The book is like Roger & Me in a sense, that you never get to see the subject of the piece up close. Wallace ends up spending a lot of his time with the camera crews of the various news organizations. The title of the magazine piece was "Up Simba", which is what one of the camera men grunts each time he lifts his video camera. The camera men offer a unique perspective to the campaign. Wallace discusses some of the more absurd aspects of a political campaign such as: "the scrum", the surrounding of the candidate by TV camera men as the candidate leaves a venue and heads to the bus; or where do the huge American flags come from and what happens to them after the rallies. This a unique piece of political reporting and if you'd like an outsider's point of view on campaigns, I would highly recommend this book.
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