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One-Car Caravan: On the Road with the 2004 Democrats Before America Tunes In Hardcover – November 4, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481872
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,885,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I didn't finish Walter Shapiro's "One-Car Caravan" feeling that my vote in the 2004 Democratic Primary would go to a different candidate, but I did finish it feeling I had a better grasp of who each of the 'major' candidates were as people - and maybe feeling a little more comfortable in the thought of what would happen if any of the candidates that make me nervous get the nod.
Shapiro's book covers the five 'major' candidates of the 2004 Democratic Primary Election: Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman and Kerry. To a lesser extent it also tackles Bob Graham (who entered the race late and has since dropped out) and Al Sharpton, who gets his own chapter in Shapiro's examination of "vanity candidates" - candidates like Sharpton, Moseley-Braun and Kucinich who enter the race with apparently little hope for winning. Absent from the book is Wesley Clark, who did not enter the race until the book was nearly published.
Shapiro's book is based less on policy positions and public facades (although each get their due in the book) than on the candidates as people, and on the whole, each comes off well. Shapiro's biases in the book are reasonably up-front: he identifies himself as a Democrat and he states his personal position as being closest to Howard Dean, and for the purposes of this book it works well. Clearly stating his own stance allows him to deal relatively even-handedly with each of the candidates in turn, although its hard to shake the feeling that maybe he's a little harder on Howard Dean as a result initial Dean-leanings.
On the whole, it's not a deep, life-changing read, nor will it necessarily cause you to rethink your views on the 2004 Democratic candidates, but it is definitely worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What wonderful insight into the Presidential candidates. Walter Shapiro has given me such a clear understanding of the candidates, their thoughts, their quirks and their essence. A must read for any thoughtful person.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Walter Shapiro tells us in this book that when his mother placed her copy of Theodore White's "The Making of the President 1960" in his hands, it was a life-changing event. Now, more than four decades later, Shapiro has become White's spiritual heir with this book. White's great innovation was to be the first one on the ground, on the road and in the air with the men who were in pursuit of the presidency. Naturally, he spawned generations of imitators, who had the ability to jump on the campaign bus early but lacked White's gifts for insight and analysis.

In "One Car Caravan," we find Shapiro on the campaign trail with the leading Democratic contenders from mid-2002 to mid-2003, a time when they were only attracting sporadic coverage in the national media, and more importantly, a time when the handlers and professionals had not completely gained the upper hands in their campaigns. As a result, we see John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, Howard Dean, Dick Gephart and John Edwards in their homes, in their offices, in the living rooms of New Hampshire Democrats, appearing as supplicants before possible donors--in short, at a time when their candidacies still have some spontaneity left in them. We gain the benefit of Shapiro's insights honed through many decades of political reporting, and it's leavened by flashes of his gift for humor as well. (Once Al Gore removed himself from the race, clearing the way for the proudly Jewish Lieberman's candidacy, Shapiro observed that "The yarmulke was in the ring.")

Supporters of Carol Mosley Braun, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich probably won't find much to like about this book, as Shapiro dismisses them as vanity-driven candidates "...who clutter up a presidential race that they have no chance of winning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott R on November 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My goal was to finish this before the 2004 elections, and I made it by a few days once I finally found a copy. I've always liked Walter Shapiro's writing style and honest tone, and One-Car Caravan didn't disappoint.

I enjoyed this book mostly because I found each chapter bring me a bit closer to the candidates - even after watching Kerry & Edwards for months afterwards, I still felt like I learned something. The Leiberman content was especially interesting. I was disappointed to not learn a bit more about Dennis Kucinich, even if I'm not a card-carrying member of his fan club.

A little repetitive - a lot of anecdotes made the same point (although each one about the New Hampshire primary process painted a great picture) - but still a great read, even after the elections are over.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on May 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Average voters never get to see the personal side of presidential candidates. All we see is the polished public image crafted by their handlers and the short sound-bites on the evening news. If any of us are really lucky we might actually hear a candidate speak in person, but even that is a canned speech that has been recited by the candidate over and over. Sometimes a campaign insider or political reporter will offer us a look at the real person blemishes and all, but it is usually in a book published after the election.
Walter Shapiro has turned the tables a bit and given us a look behind the mask before the election. Shapiro is a long time political reporter and is currently with USA Today. His knowledge of the subject comes through in every page of this book as he introduces the reader to the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Most political junkies don't even begin to focus on the race at its beginnings, but Shapiro made it a point to get to know the candidates while they were still formulating their campaigns. He traveled with Howard Dean when there were no other reporters around and in fact was with Dean on at least on trip to New Hampshire in a car with only two other people. One of which was the Vermont State Trooper assigned to drive then Governor Dean around.
Shapiro spent a lot of time like this with all of the major candidates and got to see a side of them that is seldom seen. Normally only the candidate's closest advisors and family get to see this side of the candidates. In this book we see Joe Lieberman's reaction to Al Gore's decision not to run and Howard Dean the penny pincher. We see John Edwards agonizing over his decision to run and Bob Graham with his odd habit of writing everything he does down in a little notebook.
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