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The Rules of the Game: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 13, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Downie, from 1991 until early 2008 the Washington Post's executive editor, delivers a nicely executed newsroom procedural in his fiction debut. Sarah Page, a Washington Capital investigative reporter who's been assigned to the national politics staff after being chastised for a romantic involvement with a colleague, is covering the presidential race between Democrat Monroe Capehart, an elderly Pennsylvania senator, and Republican Warner Wylie, the U.S. vice president. The race escalates after Susan Cameron, California's popular junior senator, becomes Capehart's running mate. Those looking for similarities between Cameron and Sarah Palin will be disappointed, but the same dramatic possibility that haunts the real campaign occurs shortly after the election is decided. Downie (Justice Denied) exposes corruption at the highest levels and shows how national security trumps pretty much everything, including justice, in an entertaining if familiar tale of murder, cover-ups and personal courage. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Let's be clear: newspaper critics like books written by newspaper editors about newspaper reporting. With that filter in place, critics agreed that this smart debut novel provides an engrossing take on Washington politics; Downie's years of experience at the Washington Post and as a Washington insider give the novel an authenticity -- from the setting to the characters, all of whom seem to play by their own rules -- rarely found in the genre. But it is Downie's first work of fiction, and a few reviewers noted the contrivances, unsophisticated prose, and somewhat predictable story lines. Still, they were more than willing to overlook these minor flaws and praise the book as more substantive and entertaining than most, "a gripping political thriller" that "will make one hell of a movie" (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (January 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,157,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bryan on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The characters in this novel are mostly drawn from Central Casting- the spunky young female reporter, the sociopathic General, even a gruff but fair managing editor named Lou. The Terrible Secret that is hinted at throughout the book will not be a surprise to readers who are cognizant of current events. Where the book shines is in its descriptions of the many legal or quasi-legal ways in which lobbyists and politicians in Washington enrich themselves. No wonder they oppose term limits.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Crepuscular on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This political thriller by former Washington Post editor Len Downie is absolutely Exhibit A if you want to show how book publishing is all about who you are and who you know, not what kind of book you can write. The book is wretched - the prose so wooden you could build bookcases from it. Cliches swim on the page like schools of fish. Every character is made of cardboard. The only similarity to real life is that the main character, an investigative reporter for the Washington Post-esque newspaper, is allowed to remain in her job despite repeated ethical lapses. I can't believe Downie is willing to show his face in public after publishing a book this bad.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Swimmer on April 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Leonard Downie is certainly a Washington insider who has a point of view. He sees the danger of the Bush policies and has decided to write a novel. On the whole the story is interesting with many twists and turns. It was fun to read. The problem is that the characters are all wooden. Yes not all are what you think but everyone is a stereotype. I admit I love these types of novels and when you read this one appreciates the expertise of writers who make each character interesting.

The story is more compelling than my prior review of Old City Hall but the latter effort has so many more interesting characters..
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After receiving a reprimand for a tryst with a colleague, Washington Capital investigative reporter Sarah Page is assigned to the national politics desk. She currently covers the presidential contest between elderly Democrat senator from Pennsylvania Monroe Capehart, and Republican Vice President Warner Wylie.

Capehart surprisingly chooses California Senator Susan Cameron as his running mate, which excites some with the selection of a woman and disappoints others who claim she is too inexperienced to be one elderly heartbeat from the White House. However, it is after the election is decided and Cameron is the new PROTUS with the death of Capehart Sarah learns that under the guise of national security even murder at Pennsylvania Ave or that of a nosy journalist getting too close to the truth is acceptable.

THE RULES OF THE GAME has some obvious ties to the Palin connection, but Cameron is a different personality and more significant is her side wins and her running mate and boss dies. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as Page seeks to uncover a conspiracy that uses national security to rationalize any action even when the tie to the country's safety does not exist except as a political cover. Fans will enjoy this engaging investigative thriller with its cautionary warning that the Bush Legacy is to hide everything inside the wrapper of 9/11-like national security concerns when there is not the remotest connection.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By olingerstories on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Len Downie's RULES OF THE GAME is painful at times to read. The narrative is nothing to write home about and the plot is pure formula. But, the book has its moments because you keep on wondering if Downie is telling the truth in fictional form, the names changed but the details shockingly real. That was enough to keep the pages turning for me, but I don't know if I will pick up Downie's next novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Quang Pham on April 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The closest I came to living in Washington, DC was Quantico, Virginia and that was close enough. I finished this heroine journalist operating in a military contracting-political world novel on a round trip flight from LAX-PHL-LAX. It was fast moving, with not much depth in characters or in character development, but enough descriptions for a non political person like me to keep with the pacing. The ending was a bit disappointing as a preemptive act by POTUS takes the heroics away from our journalist ho who slept with her boss, her subject and her source, an Iraq vet-turned Congressman.
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