Top positive review
81 people found this helpful
Interesting and Very Readable
on August 27, 2000
This is a very good book that delves into the type of personalities that "have what it takes" to climb to the top ranks of presidential contenders.
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.