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Quest for the Presidency 1992 Hardcover – October 1, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A team of Newsweek reporters virtually lived with the 1992 presidential candidates for more than a year, tracking their respective campaigns. Full of revelations and witty turns of phrase, this crackling report provides a unique window on the contenders' maneuverings, pressures and frustrations. Hillary Clinton, we are told, in effect became her husband's closest campaign adviser, while his handlers systematically devised a rationale for his directionless candidacy, equipping him with a populist message. Bush, a reluctant campaigner who hated confrontations, by this account wanted Quayle off the ticket but could not bring himself to dump the Vice President. Meanwhile, a Bush adviser secretly approached Colin Powell to persuade the general to become Bush's running mate. Led by team anchor DeFrank (Newsweek's deputy Washington bureau chief and senior White House correspondent), the authors do a good job of explaining how Ross Perot tapped into the public's sense of alienation by packaging himself as a pragmatist who could take on bureaucrats and cure the nation's ills through sound business sense. Withering profiles of Jerry Brown, Patrick Buchanan, Paul Tsongas and other contenders round out the chronicle. An appendix reproduces dozens of confidential memoranda and documents from the various campaigns. Photos. 25,000 first printing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Theodore H. White invented the modern presidential-campaign history in 1960, with several subsequent journalists contributing to the phenomenon. Newsweek magazine added a "group" journalism approach on the 1984 and 1988 and now the 1992 campaign. Though easy to critique, the approach works well in this volume. This seven-member team has put together a comprehensive, firsthand report on the 1992 campaign from the primaries through the general election. Despite its length and the known result, the book is compelling reading, presenting valuable insights into the campaigns of the candidates. For example, the reporters capture the essence of Jerry Brown's New Age "magical" campaign as a reflection of his flawed personality. They also offer priceless information on the Clinton campaign, which both helps make his presidency more understandable and offers hope for it. Their descriptions transform the candidates into human beings instead of stereotypes. Highly recommended for all collections.
William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890966443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890966440
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Goldman is a longtime author and journalist living in New York. Reviewers of his nonfiction work have described him as "shiningly eloquent" (New York Times), "masterful" (Washington Post) and "perhaps the best writer in American journalism (Wall Street Journal). The Last Minstrel Show: A Detective Story, published in 2012, is his eleventh book and his first novel. An updated third edition of his biographical work The Death and Life of Malcolm X is scheduled for publication in 2013.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It seems unnecessary to point out that this book is only for the true political junkie, since it's unlikely that anyone else would pick up a 700-page book with Clinton, Bush, and Perot on the cover in the first place. But for diehard politicos like myself, this book is a terrific account of the '92 campaign. The lengthy passages on political strategy may be trying for some, but the behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the three major campaigns (not to mention those of Jerry Brown, Pat Buchannan, et al) are fantastic.
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During Ron Paul's pursuit for the White House in 2008, many people attempted to make parallels to his grassroots campaign and that of Ross Perot's. Since I was in middle school during the 1992 election and since there were no other books that I could find that emphasized Perot's 1992 campaign, I decided to read "Quest For the Presidency, 1992".

First off, as every reviewer has noted, this book really is for the political junky. The book details the primaries of both parties as well as the 1992 Presidential Election. The book gives you significant insight into each of the three campaigns as well as the Tsongas, Buchanan and Brown bids to win their parties' nomination.

What it doesn't do is really examine the actual candidates previous to their campaigns. However, the book takes on a narrative feel and makes the political process much more entertaining than I would have anticipated. I was surprised to find out that Perot didn't really cost the election for Bush (as many Republicans have maintained), but instead made the results much more respectable for Bush. The author's painted the Perot campaign as simply a revolt against the established political parties and portrayed Perot as someone who outlined problems without giving solutions, something I was surprised to find out. The authors' characterization of Clinton and Bush were not much better. Clinton is portrayed as a un-trust worthy politician from a suffering state and Bush is shown as a disinterested, out-of-touch, career politician that never had a plan and could never reach the general public. (Given these two characterizations, its no wonder Perot had so much success.)

All in all, if you are looking for a detailed account of the 1992 election, I can't imagine a more thorough book is out there on the subject. If you are looking for more of a background on Ross Perot, this book only gives a small glimpse into the man and primarily focuses on his efforts within this campaign.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since 1960, books written from inside presidential campaigns have become commonplace. The Quest series was, I believe, around for three presidential elections (1984, 1988, and 1992) before Newsweek slimmed down the format and stopped using the Quest label. I'm not sure why they abandoned it after 1992, as I found this book to be very strong.

I have watched the War Room and read a few other books about the 1992 election, but not dealt with it so comprehensively. This book even gave careful attention to candidacies that were over before they began like Virginia Governor Wilder's. All of the major candidates get comprehensive treatment here, from Clinton, Bush, and Perot on down to Tsongas, Buchanan, Kerrey, Harkin, and Brown. It is hard to tell with books written this way how accurate the dialog is, since it is unlikely the authors really transcribed some of these conversations word for word. But their take feels right.

As another reviewer commented, this book also disputed what I had long been told about the 1992 election, that Clinton only won because Perot was present. If this book is to be believed, Clinton would have won in a landslide without Perot as they combined the anti-Bush vote.

One downside to the book, and perhaps to modern presidential campaigns, is its use of the campaign's own focus groups to get reactions. Instead of talking to voters in New Hampshire or other important states, the authors use the campaigns focus groups to get reactions. The book does note at one point that focus groups can kill creative ideas, but that does not stop what I thought was the book's over reliance on them.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very readable account of the 1992 presidential election. As always, the most interesting elements concern the losing candidates (in this case Perot, Bush, Tsongas). However, this work provides a great portrayal of how President Bill Clinton emerged as the nominee. One forgets that it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he would win and the team's ability to craft a message played a key role in his success. The only problem with the book is how loooonnnnnggg it is. Seriously, 700+ pages is a bit much even for those of us who are interested.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now, I'm not going to deny that I'm a political junkie, and have re-read Teddy White's books on the Making of the President several times, but this is actually, to my mind, a superior book. It's certainly written in a much more interesting and accessible manner.

The most interesting sections of the book, to me, were those that dealt with Ross Perot. I was one of the many who, at the time, was infatuated with the idea of the Saviour from Texas. Unfortunately, the very things that made him so interesting to so many people also held the seeds of his demise in 92.

Surprisingly, to me at least, one person who seems to come out of the book surprisingly well, is Dan Quayle. While not a genius, he is shown in a much better light than you would have expected given the brutal press coverage he received from 1988 on.

All in all, I would heartily recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in the way we chose our Presidents, and what we put them through on the road to the White House.

Howard
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