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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on inside Washington
Hedrick Smith's "The Power Game" is easily the best, and most informative, political book to come out in the last 25 years. Through his myriad of stories, Smith pieces together a definitive profile of Washington: what its like, who wins, who loses, and what the games are. It gives an informative outline as to the fundamental strategies and actions are in...
Published on February 4, 1998

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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but too long with too many anecdotes
"You never get in trouble in politics for lying. You only get in trouble for tellinng the truth." These wise words, from Tip O'Neill, former Speaker of the House, sum up the bottom line of what it takes to stay polotically alive in Washington. Interestingly enough they are quoted almost at the end of "the Power Game" by Hedrick Smith. It is as if...
Published on March 12, 2000 by SDSU student


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on inside Washington, February 4, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
Hedrick Smith's "The Power Game" is easily the best, and most informative, political book to come out in the last 25 years. Through his myriad of stories, Smith pieces together a definitive profile of Washington: what its like, who wins, who loses, and what the games are. It gives an informative outline as to the fundamental strategies and actions are in Washington, and what the role of certain circles of power are, such as the media, the military, and the lobbies.

The examples Smith uses to illustrate his points on Washington come mainly from the Reagan administration. Smith's analysis of the Reagan era is very troubling, and he specifically says that the actions of the Reagan team are similar to all the teams of "successful" Presidents. Inadvertently (or perhaps purposefully), Smith raises serious questions about the ethics of Washington today, and the actions of the present day administration. He also points out the actions of Congress, and the faults with the present-day system. Smith also delves into the origins of our system, tracing the impact of various political events throughout history. Smith manages to make this not only readable, but highly interesting. He mixes humor and wit with biting sarcasm and investigative journalism, all making for a very intelligent and thorough analysis of Washington. Even Smith's solutions are concise and cogent.

Smith is not a brilliant writer: he is adept, but he is not brilliant. His strength lies in research and presentation of his extensive material. Surprisingly, Smith is able to deliver the material in a very readable, friendly way. Despite being an insider for so many years, he is able to write as a tourist, stunned by the denigration of Washington over the years. He is also able to use his experience to give first-hand insight into corrupt Washington, all of which leads to a very smart, very good book. Smith is a little wordy, and he has many passages which are extraneous, but despite the flaws, he has packed this book with information every American must know. A must-read for all interested in our government at all. In fact, this is a book that every person who votes must read, because it gives tremendous insight into our system. A fine job.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for those curious about how Washington "works", January 5, 1998
By 
Roger Thornhill (North by Northwest) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
...or doesn't work! This is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. Learn about "power surfing" and other useful techniques used by the most savy of power players in our nation's capital. Before I read this book, I naively thought power in our federal government was a linear, north-south, hierarchic beast. Boy, was I wrong. It gets passed around like a beach ball. Hedrick Smith uses the Reagan Administration as his example, but the template he draws can easily be transferred to the Clinton White House. This is a long book, but it's worth the investment if you want to become a wiser citizen or just to be entertained by the power plays of our elected officials. I just finished reading former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's memoirs, "Locked in the Cabinet". I venture to say that if he had read this book before he became a Cabinet member, it would have saved him a LOT of grief and made him a more effective official. This book should be required reading to anyone who gets elected or appointed to federal positions in Washington.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, August 8, 2001
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This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
This book should be required reading for undergraduates alongside a good American Government textbook. As opposed to textbook description of our governmental process, Smith's book digs a little deeper to describe how American government - and politics - really works. It is big but fairly readable. There are some flaws: the book is a bit dated as it was written in the late 80s (e.g. Smith talks about the problems of PACs in campaign but today's problem is soft money); there are a surprisingly decent number of typos and editing oversights; finally, like I mentioned, it is a large book and at some points, few as they are, where the book drags. At the least, a good teacher could use the book and pull out certain chapters that are more pertinent. ENJOY!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful analysis of why our leaders don't measure up, August 20, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
Hedrick Smith has answered the troublesome question, "Why don't our current leaders measure up to those I read about in history books?" The answer is simple: our previous leaders have successfully exercised power in a few instances, and in hindsight it looks easy. People who are trying to exercise power have to deal with the fact that grasping power is like squeezing a balloon -- the harder you squeeze, the more slips through your fingers. Institutional checks and balances are described, but the most compelling aspects of Smith's book come from his analysis of the role of lobbyists, staffers, and constituents and their role in giving and taking power from our leaders. Reagan, currently championed by conservatives as the epitome of the powerful president, is exposed as more susceptible to the political winds after blunders like Iran-Contra. Powerful congressional committee chairs have had their power split asunder by new voting rules, and the laws have become so complex that no single poltician can know all the detail behind them. The power therefore transfers to the staffers who take the time to understand the piles of data and who can communicate it effectively. And there is always the fickle wind of public opinion wafting across D.C., changing politicians' courses as quickly as it can be ascertained which direction it's blowing. Of course, as soon as the politicians figure out where it's blowing, it changes, and the whole scramble starts again. A true gem for the political junkie, every student of D.C. and the exercise of governmental power must read this book
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside Guide, September 25, 2000
By 
JB (Alexandria, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
Perhaps a political science classic - Hedrick Smith provides an insightful glimpse not only into Washington's political scene but offers a phenomenal analysis of politics and power itself. he presents why so much of the system has become so cumbersome and complex as people fight for power and control of various aspects. He describes PACs and lobbying groups and their impact on the political system.
He also describes how the various players in Wahsington have grown over time. Take this interesting tidbit from the book: Journalists: 1,522 were acredited to Congrssional press galleries in 1961 and 5,250 in 1987; the 1980 census showed 12,612 journalists citywide. When Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945, I was told, he broke the news to the entire White House press corps - twenty-five reporters. By mid-1987, some 1,708 people had regular White House press passes. So enormous had the wider political community grown - lobbyists, lawyers, journalists, policy think tanks, defense or health consultants, and the hotels, offices, accountants, resterautns, and the service industries that support them - that by 1979 this whole nongovernmental sector actually outnumbered federal government employees in Washington!
Other fascinating facts like that are found throughout the book helping to maintin the interest of the reader. If you want to read a book about Washington, politics and the ultimate Power Game, this is the one for you. You won't be disappointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, January 8, 2001
By 
Robertomelbourne (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
As a non-American, interested in US politics, Smith's book is a more than useful insight into how Washington politics works - the deals, counter deals, and a good examiniation of the machinery that makes it all works. Smith stays away from the personalities, and concentrates on the machinery and plotical strcutures and systems, and how they all interact (and some cases how they don't) and it all reveals a complex but continually fascinating political system.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about Government and then some, June 7, 2006
By 
K. Alyce Hewes (California, LA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
Hedrick Smith wrote and amazingly in-depth novel about American Politics and Government. So in-depth, in fact, that you have to put the book down every five to twenty minutes to absorb the hundred and one things he just told you.

"The Power Game" is a long read and unless you are superbly interested in politics and government you may not want to read this. However, to everyone that dreams of the Senators at work, taking PAC money and being led by lobbyist (or if you are a Reagan fan), this book is perfect. Smith takes you inside the heart of government. And not the metaphorical heart, he truly shows all aspects of American Politics and Government. I am sure if people were capable or reading so much about politics and government; Smith could have written another 711 pages and still would not have covered everything that HE wanted to. But if it were any longer Smith would not have made a profit selling it.

Smith's analysis of Washington would have brought tears to my eyes, only because of his understanding of the best institution out there. However, Smith's love for Reagan did damper my mood of the novel. Smith seems to have a love affair with Reagan. Though Reagan did shake things up on Capitol Hill, Smith going more than fifteen pages with out mentioning something "great" about Reagan is nothing short of a small miracle.

I would love to Read this book if Smith had written it in the passed five years. Sadly this look at "the Power Game" is almost twenty years old and has no analysis of resent dynamics and shenanigans in Washington. If you are thinking of reading this book, make sure you have time and a lot of love for America. I recommend "The Power Game" because it does give you a deep understanding of Politics and Government. How deep you want to go is up to you. If you can handle knowing everything and then some, please pick up a copy. If you do not really want to know the "then some" or Washington than I would recommend a different novel. There are many novels that will give you an understanding of Washington, with out confusing or boring you. All in all, Great Book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Power Game; Hedrick Smith, April 20, 2014
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Hello.

Admittedly I haven't yet read this work. It is held in high regard by everyone else. First published back in the 1970's but regarded as a

classic work and the book's information & insights ageless as to their wisdom and/or relevancy.

Mr. Smith didn't launch some tome of advocacy and/or protest. Don't abolish Congress. Impossible if the nation's constitution

is not amended accordingly. Just execute some agency's at least reasonable oversights as to overly partisan political infighting

and/or the disturbingly vital role of political financing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Real Politics in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2013
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The author has a good insight into the real workings of the federal government on a personal levels. He goes into the human interactions and "wheelings and dealing" - the real stuff in politics. For these reasons, government does not follow the clean diagrams in a "flow chart." It is a "dirty business," and the players are dirtier.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of American Political Journalism, August 9, 2013
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This review is from: The Power Game: How Washington Works (Paperback)
Read this for a high school american government class and found it incredibly informative. Have not revisited it in years, so may not be as relevant today but was certainly a great intro for a youngster.
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The Power Game: How Washington Works
The Power Game: How Washington Works by Hedrick Smith (Paperback - September 29, 1996)
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