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The Boys on the Bus Paperback – August 12, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Political spin-doctoring has become something of an art form in the last few decades. It was less artful in the early years of the information age, and Crouse's entertaining look at the attempts of both the Nixon and McGovern '72 campaign staffs to control the media seems almost comical, so poor were they at the image-and-sound bite manipulation that now defines our politics. Crouse is a serious-minded journalist, however, and his firsthand report on how political news is made and shaped remains important reading. Check out Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 for a more madcap view of the same matters. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“All the secrets . . . the definitive story.”
—The Washington Post

“Provokes, perplexes, illuminates and amuses.”
—Newsweek


“An extremely insightful and provocative book.”
—New York

“Crouse takes a big bite out of the hand that
feeds news to America——a mean, funny,
absolutely honest book!”
—Hunter S. Thompson

“Marvelously entertaining . . . There is no better way to
find out just how the news . . . reaches us.”
—The Boston Globe
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812968204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812968200
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on May 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Crouse's groundbreaking book on the 1972 Presidential campaign was reveolutionary in the way it covered the reporters who covered the election. This was the first step in to turning these reporters into "stars" in their own right. Who can doubt today that the visibility one gets from being a reporter on a successful Presidential campaign can transform you into a highly paid and visible "talking head." Crouse's book is well written, informative and quite amusing, which is appropriate since he spent the campaign hanging out with the immortal Hunter S. Thompson. A must for political junkies.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an account of the 1972 presidential campaign. Crouse's account set the standard for books about presidential campaigns; a standard that has not yet been beaten.
The 1972 campaign involved the first real attempt by campaigns to spin-doctor the press and American people during a campaign. Previously, we left that to the already elected.
The 1972 campaign also marked the first real attempt by networks to create stars out of reporters. This network tactic has continued unabated until the present. In fact, recent studies have reported that reporters now receive much more air time than the actual candidates.
Crouse's book is essential reading for political junkies as well as history buffs. The 1972 election was truly a watershed event which continued through the Watergate era.
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This brilliantly conceived and executed book pulled back the curtain on the culture of covering presidential campaigns much like Theodore White's The Making of the President before it. Smooth and seemless prose is marred only slightly by the contrived tactic of attempting one line physical descriptions of principals "a bull of a man," "a lovely and smart woman," etc.

Structurally, the book proceeds from the failed Muskie campaign and an introduction of some of the icons of the industry at the time (two, David Broder and Robert Novak, must be packed in ice every night and only thawed out to give television appearences, such is their longevity) to Nixon's campaign, the not yet completed Watergate investigation of Woodward and Bernstein, and then finally the doomed McGovern campaign once again. The technique is man on the scene, interspersed with set interviews in which the interviewer is an actor.

Crouse's classic is entertaining and informative. It is entertaining because of the colorful portraits of a gang of mostly fun loving guys and a few jerks, and informative because it shows that the true bias of the press is an establishment bias, much more complicated than a simple left-right dichotomy, it's the institutional pressures of the job that leads to the press's often distorted views. Yes, the reporters trend liberal, but the editors and publishers trend conservative, and in recent years the line has blurred between the interests of the publishers and their employees. These guys are not scrappily taking in about the same salary as a bus driver or construction worker anymore, their vibe is much more movie star. Yet now as then, the real distortion is the pack mentality and fear of being the outlier in coverage, suspect by editors with no other framework for evaluation.
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There is an old maxim that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse, you literary are thrown into the 1971 Presidential Race, where Nixon and McGovern are hammering it out for the Presidency.
Along with Hunter S. Thompson, Crouse was in the mix trying to get a feel of the process. What makes this an interesting book is that it could be written about the political scene today. Just interchange some of the names and boom.
Crouse goes into the personalities of the press pool and how they get intertwined with the machine of the campaigns. Crouse speaks to the origins of what we see today, "the message of the day". The pack mentality of the national press and how rumors become reality as an age pre-spin was filled with a cycle of pumped in information.
This madness picks up every four years and when the elections are over, so is the magic ride for the boys on the bus.
This is a fun book for anyone who wants to understand the culture and dynamics of the political process. The only thing to note is that it has increased over a thousand times over in the information age.
A must read for any student of politics. Check out this dynamic, first hand account.
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Well, that certainly sucked the romance out of covering the candidates running for president. However, when Mr. Crouse's book caused me to laugh on the second page with his dark observation, I knew this classic work was going to be good and it definitely was. The 1972 campaign between President Nixon and Senator McGovern seems eons away from today's 24-hour news cycles. Mr. Crouse's work was published in 1973. It was a time of chain smoking, hardcore drinking, long-haired reporters who used manual typewriters, wrote for morning AND evening newspapers, cell phones didn't exist, they had HUGE budgets and staff, needed to take into consideration The Fairness Doctrine, and sexist attitudes were very much the norm. Other aspects of news gathering are still with us today such as the pack mentality of journalist who are cocooned with other reporters in covering candidates for long months.

Mr. Crouse covers such areas as the boredom and frustration of being part of the White House press corps under the Nixon Adminsitration, the chaos of Senator McGovern's campaign, and the different business cultures working as a reporter for either newspapers, magazines or television. Many of the high-profile reporters were and still are today an egotistical lot inclined towards jealousy of other reporters receiving preferential treatment or fame. Though Mr. Crouse describes the McGovern campaign as essentially a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off, he shows a clear dislike of Nixon's staff especially the press secretary Ron Ziegler. Our nation had a choice between a candidate who likely would've been in over his head as president or a president who had the morals of... well... Richard Nixon.

The reporters highlighted were well known in the seventies.
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