From Publishers Weekly
Experience has taught Shapiro, a veteran journalist and USA Today political columnist, that once the media managers and campaign consultants take hold of the 2004 Democratic presidential primary contest, there will be no way for anyone to get a meaningful sense of who the candidates are and what makes them run. Experience has also persuaded Shapiro that a fix on a candidate's character is more important than set-piece proposals on health care and foreign policy. Thus he takes a pre-emptive strike at the aspiring candidates. In 2002, before the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are captives of the political process, when traveling with the candidate means sitting with the candidate as he crisscrosses New Hampshire rather than taking a seat in the press plane, Shapiro sets out to take their measure. He isn't interested in the predictable answers candidates offer to the question, Why me for president? He is going after deeper insights, and his active mind looks for clues everywhere: in private conversations with the candidates, in whom they hire to run their campaigns and in how they make crucial decisions, small and large, about their futures. Readers will be pleased with the result-Shapiro succeeds in offering a commentary that is mature, witty, entertaining and marked by political and emotional intelligence. And his final judgment of the candidates he followed (Edwards, Lieberman, Kerry, Graham, Dean and Gephardt)-that at least there is not a "charlatan or a chiseler among them"-might provide comfort through the inevitable mind-numbing moments of the coming primary season.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Shapiro, political columnist for USA Today
, takes a very early look at some of the 2004 presidential bids of Democratic candidates, when their campaigns are essentially one-car caravans--with Shapiro along for the ride. With no jostling competition from media and less attention from the public, Shapiro is able to capture candidates at a time of "unscripted" lines. Howard Dean, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, Joseph Lieberman, John Edwards, Robert Graham, and Al Sharpton come under scrutiny in what Shapiro concedes is not a thorough look at the candidates. But what this collection lacks in thoroughness, it makes up in candor. Shapiro details how the candidates hone their messages, how they interact with each other, and the tension and jockeying for position. He depicts the dogged determination of Graham, how Gephardt reenlisted the help of his former speechwriter, now a co-producer of The West Wing
, and a Sharpton less inclined to bow out and support a nominee than is widely expected. Readers will enjoy this revealing look at candidates before they sharpen their images. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved