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The Gospel According to the Fix: An Insider's Guide to a Less than Holy World of Politics Paperback – July 10, 2012
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“The Gospel According to the Fix is a great read and guide for both amateur and professional political junkies alike.” —Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent, NBC
“This is a smart, funny road map through the maze of presidential politics, replete with Chris Cillizza’s trademark insights and keen wit. If you have time for one guide to politics, The Gospel According to the Fix is it.” —Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent, NBC
“The Gospel According to the Fix hits its stride in several ambitious explorations of various aspects of the political scene….The speed, volume and reach of [Cillizza’s] take on matters not only chronicles the daily grind but influences it, too: Consultants read him, and their candidates react.” –Ken Kurson, Wall Street Journal
About the Author
CHRIS CILLIZZA writes The Fix for the Washington Post. He is an MSNBC contributor and political analyst who appears regularly on the network in addition to NBC, PBS, and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. Chris has worked for Roll Call, the Cook Political Report, and Congress Daily. His freelance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, Washingtonian, and Slate.
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I agree with another reviewer that Cillizza is not overly partisan. I'm sure he fights those tendencies because he is an MSNBC contributor and on multiple shows each day, but he does a good job in this book of looking at both parties, handicapping their chances, recognizing their up-and-comers, and leaving it for readers to decide where they stand. The people he skewers deserve to be skewered -- by their actions and not their affiliations.
I wanted to see how the blogger/contributor perspective compared to these other authors. I'd agree that Cillizza didn't do all the reading and footnoting that others have (hence no index), that he's not hosting a daily show or a former elected official himself, but his book shows you how people think and cope who follow the details of day-to-day politics and campaigns and immerse themselves in seeing close up how politicians act, keep or lose their way. It also shows how we as citizens and periodic voters choose to care or not care about the issues they talk and blog about every day. So from that angle of making politics more understandable, this book does the job it promises.
As a loyal reader of The Fix, I have come to rely on Mr. Cillizza to deliver timely and well crafted insights into the story behind the story. Unfortunately, for readers like me, the book introduces no new insights. In addition, the writing style that has made The Fix easy to read simply does not work in a book format. There are extensive and circuitous analogies (e.g. the link to Friday Night Lights), overuse of the m-dash, introduction of non-words (what's "cashola"?), and other such offenses against the English language. The chapters appear to be in some random order that don't tell a cohesive story: for example, the first few sections about the recommended blogs should really be appendices. Finally, there's wild speculation about candidates for 2016 with a justification of how such a discussion appeals to political junkies--this is a far cry from the thoughtful commentary that has made The Fix a destination for analysis versus opinion.
Chris Cillizza is an important voice in an increasingly noisy world of political journalism. Mr. Cillizza will do well to fire his editors and work a professional team for his next book (which I'll be borrowing from the library rather than purchasing!).
As a book, not so much. I consumed this collection of pieces quickly but don't have a lot to say. Though the one chapter that stuck with me is the nice one on Richard Ben Cramer and the cult of What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Cilizza modestly cites that book as his - and much of his generation's - inspiration. Cramer's book was almost universallly panned or ignored when it came out shortly before the 1992 election. Since then - thanks to devotees like Cilizza and his colleagues - it has become seen as the sui generis hallmark of political books. Cramer gives a nice interview to Cilizza. That Cramer has been ultimately triumphant by developing a unique vision of political reporting (the 1,000 page (!) book took six years to research and write) is a nice story of perseverance and talent winning out. That a fan like Cilizza gets to write that story is really great.
Many of the others chapters have a lot to thank EPSN's Bill Simmons for. Cilizza is an unabashed Simmons fan (he met him once and asks his readers to remember the SNL skit of Chris Farley 'interviewing' Paul McCartney to get an idea of what the exchange was like). As a result, Cilizza's got his "Levels on Endorsements" (see Simmons' "Levels of Losing") and his Political Hall of Fame (a Simmons staple, most notably his Top 100 ranking in The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy).