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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 Paperback – June 1, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

"Bracingly insightful."―Pankaj Mishra, New York Times Book Review

"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."―Steve Almond, Los Angeles Time Book Review

"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."―Kevin Canfield, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

About the Author

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st Back Bay Pbk. Ed edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316040533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316040532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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this was such a fascinating and enlightening read. DFW has a unique way of seeing things...and of writing about them. He's not for everyone, but neither is everyone. His vocabulary alone is an education; I read his books with a dictionary next to me. And he always makes me smile...and frown...and sigh...and laugh. But most of all, he makes me think.
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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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McCain in 2008 was an enigma to me.

I couldn't understand why a self and media described "Maverick" would make such ordinary campaign driven decisions.
After reading this book I think I have a better understanding of the mechanics of A Campaign, and better a understanding into McCain psyche.

Oddly enough David Foster Wallace, throughout the book up to (and included) the end remains ambivalent and ambiguous about the "real McCain."
But to me this ambiguity and ambivalence is the REAL McCain. "A man is a thing of many divisions" (LORD OF LIGHT by Roger Zelazny.)
McCain is a complex man, who's base is of a Hero, ornery individual.
McCain is also a politician with the ambitions and desires that come part and parcel with.
Any politician worth his salt and his voter confidence have to compromise, for a politician that do not wheal and deal will not achieve and deliver.
And here is, what I think, hobbled McCain in both campaigns, most everybody agree about him being basically an honest person. Wallace also cite anonymous personage assigning shrewdness and calculating to McCain. But rarely do you hear people praise his decision making. And it appears that too often when McCain needed to make judgment call, he fumbled.

Wallace in his book manages to give us a good picture of all those sides of McCain, and as a truly gifted writer let us come to the conclusion on our own.
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Format: Paperback
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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