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What It Takes: The Way to the White House Paperback – June 1, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Focusing on the Democrat and GOP hopefuls in 1988, Cramer paints a devastating portrait of the personalities of the ten or so aspirants. Along the way, he provides a good snapshot of modern presidential politics.
What is revealed are hard driven men, who are willing to sacrifice all other concerns to their political ambitions. Although Bush, Gore, Dukakis, Hart, Biden, Dole and the others have very different life stories and personalities, they are very similar in their focus, drive and ego. This book provides biographical sketches of each as well as an insiders view of their 1988 campaigns. Knowing Delaware's Biden a little, I would say that he captures at least that character fairly accurately.
The only complaint with this book is that Cramer takes great liberties with his characters in telling their stories. He can not know what they were thinking exactly during all the vignettes he paints, yet he writes as if he were the central character and he had intimate knowledge of conversations, feelings and dialogue. Cramer also draws many conclusions from the life portraits of his characters. This style is not unenjoyable, but one should be forwarned that the author writes in the "gonzo" journalism style that sounds more authoritative than it could possibly be. This is the type of writing that makes these types of books difficult to rely on as historical sources, but can present an interesting story.
What it Takes is very readable and enjoyable.
His intense focus on how the candidates act differently when in private than they do when they're out giving their stump speech makes for fascinating reading. If you're tired of dry books that are "nothing but the facts, ma'am," you'll love this well-written story.
Essentially, one of these men will be the most powerful man in the world, and have a chance at shaping history. This book answers the questions "why" and "how."
Cramer understands his subjects, and the profiles of each candidate would be excellent stand-alone biographies. Extremely readable and well written, without sacrificing substance.
A truly unique and indespensible work. To find out what it takes, read this book.
It is hard to describe Cramer's writing style. He seems to have an uncanny knack for getting into his subject's mind and giving you a vision of the world from their perspective. He seems to find what makes his subject unique and showcase it to the world. His Sports Illustrated piece on Cal Ripken, Jr.'s consecutive games streak in September of 1995 remains the finest article I have ever read in SI since I began subscribing back in 1989. Cramer's style of writing is a joy to read. You simply never want him to stop writing, even if it is about something as mundane as observing Bush traveling to a speech.
Needless to say Bob Dole emerges as the hero of Cramer's work. (During the '96 campaign Cramer later released a separate book with just the Dole chapters.) The wounded veteran comes across as a man of stunning drive, courage and loneliness. You can't help but think of the horrific pain and suffering he endured during those years rehabilitating himself and attending law school. The Dole of Cramer's book is easy to admire and quite likeable, despite his gruff demeanor and occasionally cold treatment of people around him.
Gary Hart, in contrast, comes across poorly. (Surprise, surprise.) So much of his portion of the book is devoted to attacking the media and refuting his public persona as either an odd loner or a serial adulterer.Read more ›
The 1988 campaign is here in its riotous colors, from Dole's personally-impersonal speech-ifying -- "Bob Dole wouldn't do that. Bob Dole thinks ..." -- to Gary Hart's own bimbroglia over Donna Rice ("Prepare to be bored . . "), to early rumblings of this Arkansas governor, who maybe ... has a shaky grasp on the truth.
This is magnificent reporting, the sort of thing that not only gives you faith in journalism, but simultaneously stakes out and successfuly claims so much difficult journalistic territory that it's hard to see how future campaign books can possible improve.
If, as some pundits like to argue, chronicling a presidential campaign is the modern-day equivalent of seeking your personal white whale, then Richard Ben Cramer has gone Ahab (at least) one better: He sat right on the whale's tail for a year, and then came back with copious notes to tell us about it -- rather than leaving it to some shmuck named Ishmael.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What it Takes, The Way to the White House is 1000+ page tome about the 1988 Presidential campaign. This is the perfect book to read now that we are in primary season. Read morePublished 14 days ago by MAURICE J RUBINO
This is a fantastic account of the arduous and lengthy presidential primary election process. The politicians come alive in all of their dimensions, and it's as much of a pager... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brian Rosenwald
This is the "bible" of election coverage books. I have read many books on elections and the vetting process, this book is the most through and in depth of them all. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Benjamin Ray
Perfect read for anyone who likes politics. It doesn't matter that it goes back to 1988 - all I could think was that the process has only become more brutal.Published 2 months ago by Joshua
Nobody can teach you more about becoming president, and conversely question the validity of the modern American experiment... I only wish someone could keep doing what he did.Published 5 months ago by Charles F. Getter
A very thorough examination of our political process from behind the scenes. Includes biographical information on each candidate.Published 6 months ago by Morris