7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Tedious with few enduring qualities,
This review is from: The Price of Politics (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed many of Bob Woodward's page-turners about contemporary White House administrations. His portraits of policy-makers during critical times have been fleshed out thanks to his earned status as a Washington "insider." Unfortunately, "The Price of Politics" feels phoned-in and monotonous. The effect may not be only Woodward's fault: the constant cable news cycle and plethora of pundits, talking heads and politicos offering analysis and opinion leaves very little for the reader to discover (or discover anew) in this volume. We have already heard, often firsthand, from the major players, policy wonks and even journalists like Woodward himself, months and months before this book appeared. The topic itself, the deficit ceiling crisis of 2011 and other debt and budget issues, does not make for very exciting reading, at least not in Woodward's hands.
Woodward's prose has never felt more stilted and repetitive. There are traces of his trademark journalistic scene-setting, like enumerating personal descriptions of nearly everyone he mentions (formula: age, hair color/style/presence, physical build, employment history, weird tidbit). I think the most interesting thing I learned was that Senator Jon Kyl is so frugal that he rents lawn equipment by the hour and won't be interrupted while he's using it in order to save money. OK, so what?
In a book with very few surprises or rewards, some readers may be surprised at the enormous influence and power accorded to the staff and aides of elected officials. The book is filled with conclusory statements by Woodward, especially about Obama and Representative Eric Cantor, but Woodward is not a very adroit analyst. Speaker John Boehner and Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell come out looking pretty good, at least under Woodward's pen. Overall, the reading was tedious and lumbering.
I felt frustrated that all of the various policymakers in Washington discussed budget lines, revenue, spending and debt in light of their own vested (and sometimes parochial) interests and personalities, rather than what seems to be in the best interests of the American people.