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The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down Hardcover – January 30, 2010
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"A book worth reading for its larger drama. With a title that ultimately works like a shiv in the ribs, Mr. Young’s book examines what a politician really is: the value of his words... the extent of his feelings of entitlement, the outrageousness of his ego...and the gap between his public convictions and private behavior" - Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Mesmerizing...This is not a political memoir. It’s a morality tale with the chill of Hitchcock.” ---Tina Brown, The Daily Beast
“Replete with colorful anecdotes and vignettes, this forceful memoir offers a familiar, if a bit slippery, tale of lost youthful innocence.” --The New York Times Book Review
“How often does the quest for the White House become an unhealthy obsession, not just for a candidate and his spouse, but for the people around them?” --The Boston Globe
From the Back Cover
John Edwards’s longest-serving former aide gives us the inside story—in shocking, explosive detail—about the meteoric rise and scandalous fall of
Andrew Young volunteered for the Edwards campaign for U.S. Senate in 1998 and soon became the Democratic candidate’s right-hand man and most trusted friend. As Edwards became a national star, Young’s responsibilities grew to include a series of questionable assignments that culminated with being asked to conceal the Senator’s ongoing adultery. Then, days before his run in the 2008 presidential primaries began, Edwards was faced with a publicity nightmare: Rielle Hunter, the campaign videographer with whom he’d been having an affair, was pregnant. Edwards insisted that Young claim paternity—but America would eventually learn the truth…
“A book worth reading for its larger drama. Mr. Young’s book examines what a politician really is.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Young believed that Edwards could be a great president, and was assured throughout the cover-up that one day Edwards would come clean to his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth—and the rest of the country—and take responsibility for his actions. Instead, Young watched as his own career and family life fell apart. With this memoir, he finally has the chance to share his account of what really happened—and go beyond the headlines to show who John Edwards really is.
“Mesmerizing...This is not a political memoir. It’s a morality tale with the chill of Hitchcock.” —Tina Brown, The Daily Beast
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The way Young describes the scene forecasts that with the publication of his book U.S. voters' innocence will be lost forever. Reading the prologue, even a reader, who might have been on the proverbial island and who therefore never heard of John Edwards, would know that the tale to come cannot be a good one. `The Politician' reveals a tragedy of epic proportions.
Slowly but surely, Young gets sucked into a web of deception and drama, in which all participants but John Edward suffer. There are his cancer-stricken but equally ambitious wife, nervous campaign workers, misled and neglected donors, and young children; none of who matter to Edward's hunger for power. Also suffering is logic, simple and basic logic that the enacted and proposed schemes cannot work in the long run. This demonstrates a sign of disconnect, which is outright dangerous.
Readers learn about the schemes of manipulation: Italian designer clothing labels being replaced with labels "Made in USA", $ 500 haircuts, plastic surgery, and dental work are the least of it. We find out that Edwards called donors, who wanted to talk to him longer than he wanted to talk to them "ass kissers" and that he thought that people, who didn't make commitments were "wasting his time". John Edwards had "no time for this s***" because he was "going to be president". The politician with the boyish looks and smile ran a scheme, which would make mobsters blush. Andrew Young and (on a lesser scale) others around him have no playbook what to do other than to drop everything they have worked for.
This is what makes "The Politician" an important book. It empowers every future campaign staffer and member of candidates' "inner circles" to make better and best decisions. Forewarned by the telling of Young's story, campaign helpers might want to think twice whether they want to find out how it really feels, walking Andrew Young' path, including expensive lawsuits. Luckily for Young, his family is still intact.
Gisela Hausmann, author and blogger
But the reason I bought the book was to learn details about John Edwards and his total fall from political grace. As one of his earliest supporters back when he ran for Senate, I was amazed at how much of a liar he turned out to be, amazed that someone with such a bright political future who appeared to be so genuinely interested in helping the poor could be such a monster of self-interest and greed. I was more interested in learning about that than I was in hearing details about his sordid affair, and in that respect I got exactly what I paid for. Andrew Young spends a lot of time giving details about his family that I couldn't care less about, but even more time giving details about his experiences with the Edwards family, from start to finish. He paints a portrait of a man he initially almost worshipped and did anything for, but hindsight makes it clear even in these early stories that he was being used and taken advantage of. Young continually offers what he considers are plausible explanations for his decision to become a lackey for the Edwards family, even when John Edwards wasn't actively holding any political office or even running a campaign. But once he gets to the section where he absurdly agreed to name himself the father of Rielle Hunter's baby, any sympathy or understanding I might have had for his choices goes right out the window. What kind of a man drags his wife and three children around the country, disrupting their jobs, lives and education in order to be party to the year's biggest lie? How could he ever have POSSIBLY thought he was doing the right thing? He seems perfectly happy to make these sacrifices despite mounting evidence that he made the wrong choice until he learns from Edwards himself that he won't be compensated with a cushy job in a phony charity after all.
My overall impression from reading this account is that Young and Edwards were perfect for each other. Both men are selfish enough to make big personal choices without regard for how it would impact their wives, their children and their careers. I know politicians are just people, but reading about exactly how Edwards ran his game from the very beginning of his political career was an eye-opening experience. It forced me to ask myself whether the act of accomplishing something good was enough. Does it also have to be accomplished for the right reasons?
Edwards ended his own career without ever finding an answer to those questions. I see him in a new light now, not just as a bad husband and a bad person but as someone who would have been very destructive for the country if he'd ever attained any of the national offices he sought. A man who would accept $55,000 payments to go lecture on poverty is not the kind of man who deserves political power on a national level, and Andrew Young was right to expose that. Edwards dug his own grave. This book is nothing more than a few shovelfuls of dirt to help seal him into it.