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Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign (A BuzzFeed/Bl ue Rider Press Book) by [Hastings, Michael]
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Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign (A BuzzFeed/Bl ue Rider Press Book) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Length: 161 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 932 KB
  • Print Length: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press (January 15, 2013)
  • Publication Date: January 15, 2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AR48WB8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,893 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an appropriately-priced e-book, and is a solid example of what the format can provide - longform nonfiction work that's timely right now, but would be much less so in six months when a reader's attention has been diverted (Politico's Kindle series is good too, though I've only read excerpts).

It's a fun read, with plenty of behind-the-scenes anecdotes collected in one lengthy format. Hastings' accounts of his often contentious relations with fellow journalists and Obama campaign officials are entertaining and snarkily told. His reporting - a lot of which his endnotes explain was compiled by and credited to other journalists - gives a good, broad overview of the last couple months of the Obama campaign, when things looked good for his reelection, then horrible, then okay, then unsure, until the victory that with hindsight looks inevitable - I mean, President Romney? Really? Just three months later, that seems so silly.

Hastings is at his best when he goes after everyone with his brand of lacerating humor. He describes Press Secretary Jay Carney as a "regime collaborator," which is just so over-the-top and meanspirited and original - and appropriate. Carney, a former Time reporter, crossed over to the bigtime of politics, so if he's not a "collaborator," what is he?

The biggest flaw is there's not enough in the book of what makes Hastings work so fun to read. In The Operators, which I also liked, he related point-by-point conversations with exquisite detail - he looked bad, they looked bad, everybody looked bad. But it was honest, and that gave it value.

Here, he often starts what could be an equally great scene, but doesn't go far enough.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow. Sheesh. What an absolute mess. The tone lurches between neutral reportorial and over-the-top gonzo without rhyme or reason; stories with scant payoff are tediously set up; syntax can be so garbled that you find yourself rereading sentences four or five times. You get the feeling the whole thing was dictated while jogging. I realize it's only an e-book, but, c'mon, Hastings, would a second draft have killed you?

Here's a typical sample, describing the election night party in Chicago:

--------------
"Obama delivered his address. The confetti fell, looking even more incredible in digital high definition. The Obama campaign tweeted Barack and Michelle hugging: Four more years. Obama gave a speech, accepting his victory for a final term. Parties at the Fairmont and the Boss Bar went pretty late; there were a few meltdowns at the InterContinental."
--------------

...and that's it. What sort of meltdowns? He doesn't say. Instead, we're on to the day after, and another slew of disjointed, unrewarding observations. (BTW, I don't remember Obama giving two speeches that night. Again, dude: a second draft wouldn't have killed you!)

All the expected junctures are dutifully hit, including a big fat section on Obama's terrible first debate performance. Hastings recounts the lead-up day in tedious detail, but there's no takeaway, just scattered speculations. Obama got some bad advice. He was tired. He had a bumpy plane flight. The moderator killed the room's enthusiasm. It's essentially a chapter-long tap dance around "Geez, I have no idea".

And as for that painfully edgy subtitle: "Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story", there's nothing the least bit sublime or terrifying here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like Michael Hastings. This book starts out sounding like it might be a Hunter Thompson-like "Fear and Loathing" campaign chronicle, but it quickly becomes evident that Hastings isn't that crazy. He paints a pretty clear picture of the White House press corps and what life is like for a peripheral, new media reporter who is "allowed" to come along for the ride. Michael shows how hard it is to get anything from the major campaign players and in the end, paints a very clear picture of how and why the suck-up reporters are what dominates the news we get today. Michael exercises some gonads and admits some mistakes as he learns the ropes. After reading it, I had a clearer understanding of why Hunter Thompson needed so much medication to report on the Nixon campaign back in '72.
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Michael Hastings is probably the best, most fearless reporter we have -- among the last of a dying breed. As it is, the major media has assigned suck-ups, lapdogs, presstitutes and whoresponsdents to cover the political elites and it's been a sickening experience. Hastings is different; his investigative masterpiece, "The Operators," was a phenomenal front line account of the war in Afghanistan, the pressures on embedded journalists to provide Judith-Miller-style sycophant "journalism." His article in Rolling Stone and subsequent book resulted in the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. A brilliant achievement.

Accordingly, the first-person account of Hastings' experience inside the bubble of Obama's re-election campaign was highly anticipated. Hell, it even had the endorsement of Glenn Greenwald, possibly the greatest analyst of American politics we have out there.

So the book is a pastiche of hit or miss, with the hits making this quick read well worthwhile. Hastings made it obvious that he wasn't into the Buzzfeed assignment of hanging out with the slobbering, pro-Obama press corps who shadowed the president everywhere on the campaign. In a terrific, candid moment, Hastings basically says he's slumming with this assignment. "I told [a war vet] how campaign reporting was for me a kind of methadone, a weak substitute, but that I could take what I could get." Brilliant analogy, but also highly confessional. Hastings was so-not-into this assignment at the outset.

But he learned how to get into it.

He admits at the end: "Obama's America. I love it here." He also confesses to being utterly charmed by Obama when the president came out for an "off-the-record" encounter with the press corps at an Orlando hotel. "I was riding high . . . Cool!
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