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Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 11, 2010
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Even before the book was out, its juiciest bits were everywhere: Sarah Palin was serene when chosen for V.P. because it was “God’s plan.” Hillary didn’t know if she could control Bill (duh). Elizabeth Edwards was a shrew, not a saint. Overall, the men from the campaign garner less attention in these anecdote wars than the women and tend to come off better—but only just: Obama, the authors note, can be conceited and windy; McCain was disengaged to the point of recklessness; and John Edwards is a cheating, egotistical blowhard. But, hey, that’s politics, and it’s obvious that authors Heilemann (New York Magazine) and Halperin (Time) worked their sources well—all 200 of them. Some (including the sources themselves) will have trouble with the book’s use of quotes (or lack thereof). The interviews, according to the authors, were conducted “on deep background,” and dialogue was “reconstructed extensively” and with “extreme care.” Sometimes the source of a quote is clear, as when the book gets inside someone’s head, but not always. Many of the book’s events were covered heavily at the time (Hillary’s presumed juggernaut; Michelle Obama’s initial hostility to her husband’s candidacy), but some of what this volume delivers is totally behind-the-scenes and genuinely jaw-dropping, including the revelation that senators ostensibly for Clinton (New York’s Chuck Schumer) pushed hard for Obama. Another? The McCain camp found Sarah Palin by doing computer searches of female Republican officeholders. A sometimes superficial but intensely readable account of a landmark campaign (librarians take note: the exceedingly flimsy binding may reflect the publisher’s haste to rush the book to press). --Ilene Cooper
“A smoking new book. . . . The real revelation in Game Change: Campaigns turn our politicians into lunatics.” (Tina Brown, The Daily Beast )
“Heilemann and Halperin have conducted hundreds of interviews to provide the inside story of the 2008 campaign. . . . It vividly shows how character flaws large and small caused Obama’s opponents to self-destruct.” (Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review )
“A thoroughly researched, well-paced and occasionally very amusing read. . . . The result is something that conveys the feel, or perhaps more accurately the smell, of one of recent history’s most thrilling elections, and it does so better than any of the other books already on the market.” (The Economist )
“I can’t put down this book!” (Stephen Colbert )
“Compulsively readable. Once begun, you can’t put it down. . . . Deeply and knowledgeably reported and presented with all the cool sophistication one would expect from two accomplished political reporters.” (Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times )
“Riveting, definitive. . . . A great campaign book. . . . Halperin and Heilemann got insiders to cough up astonishing artifacts, including emails and recordings. . . . Game Change is really interesting, and puts you deep in the middle of it.” (Kurt Andersen, Very Short List )
“The hottest book in the country.” (The Associated Press )
“Everybody talked. Anybody that tells you they didn’t is lying to you.” (A former top Clinton aide, to Politico’s Ben Smith )
“The best presidential political book since What it Takes by Richard Ben Cramer and Teddy White’s books. These are the types of books that got me into politics.” (Joe Scarborough )
“An explosive new book. . . . An absolute page turner.” (Soledad O’Brien on Larry King Live )
“You’ve got to read Game Change. . . . I read each and every word. . . . Game Change is a great book.” (Don Imus )
“A fascinating account. . . . Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations. . . . Game Change leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times )
“Riveting. . . . Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits. . . . This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign. . . . And it doesn’t hurt that Game Change reads more bodice-ripper than Beltway.” (Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly )
“The authors of Game Change succeed in creating a plausible account of the emotional tumult of the 2008 campaign as it might have been—perhaps even was—experienced by the candidates, their spouses, and their staffs.” (Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker )
“An amazing piece of work. . . . One of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22. . . . An absolutely gripping read . . . they can write.” (Clive Crook, The Financial Times )
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As a political junkie during 2008 campaign, I thought I knew it all, but I was not privy to many of the disclosures in this book. Let's review some:
Hillary Clinton: I knew she thought she would walk into the nomination, but with all her know-how, she really underestimated Obama's organization and Bill's lack of influence. I was sort of shocked that many of the senators had secretly approached Obama to persuade him to run, knowing that Hillary could not win. She is too divisive and naïve about loyalty. It was fascinating that Hillary strongly supported Obama for Senator; I did not know that she braved a snowstorm to arrive in Chicago to help him. I also was shocked she had a transition "team" in place before the primary.
Obama: Calculating and rather arrogant. I was a bit surprised with his flashes of anger but he seemed to sail through muddy times - Jeremiah Wright being the worst. It's hard to believe he survived that travesty which gives me hope that he can overcome his less than stellar first year.
The Edwards: Wow, fascinating. I really did not know he is such a cad and Elizabeth is a sharp-tongued shrew. I don't understand how those two believed if he did win the nomination, his cheating becoming public knowledge, that he could win. It would be death for a Democratic victory. I was not surprised that he was so confident he wanted to make a deal with Obama that Obama could be his Veep. The Edwards fall from grace was disheartening. His loyal staff deserves applause and sympathy.
Now Sarah Palin, not too many surprises for me. She is the anti-intellect and probably the cleverest politician in the group. She was not dedicated to public service (i.e. quits governorship) and duped so many shallow voters. I did not know that she could not recall Biden's name during the VP debate, hence her request to call him Joe! She did slip up once during the debate and referred to him as O'Biden.
These journalists wrote a tight, fascinating narrative of the campaign. It was a game changer and they helped change it providing us with the superb anecdotes. I have since heard both of them on news shows and they are astute and continue to support their statements. Maybe they should run for office!
Let the Koch brothers donate 900 million to public charities and not political campaigns. Goodby to 90% of lobbyists.