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O: A Presidential Novel Hardcover – January 25, 2011

2.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Let�s start with a paraphrase: I�ve read Primary Colors (1996), and this is no Primary Colors. Clearly, Simon & Schuster was hoping that lightning would strike twice if they were to publish a political novel by Anonymous: a publicity storm would ensue, and everyone would be talking about O. The problem is that Joe Klein, the Anonymous behind Primary Colors, was writing about a president, Bill Clinton, who liked to bonk as much as wonk, which added a salacious edge to that �inside story.� O�s chief personality faults are occasional pettiness, an inflated ego, and three cigarettes a day. Moreover, the first time out, there was the intriguing question of Klein�s motivation. Here, that seems clearer: the author, perhaps a disgruntled Obamaite, seems peeved that the president didn�t live up to the mantle of hope and change, though at times he (or she) suggests that an impatient electorate may be equally to blame. The plot, which imagines the events of the upcoming 2012 election, offers little that�s unexpected. Some of the characters are so obvious�David Axelrod, Arianna Huffington�that Anonymous could just as well have used their names. James Carville makes an appearance as a cadaverous media hound (also fairly obvious). Other characters are composites: the Republican candidate seems to be Mitt Romney, had Mitt Romney ever been a general in the army. Although the author is described as a D.C. insider, there�s not much here that couldn�t have been gleaned from reading, well, The Huffington Post. The flap copy notes that Anonymous has been �in the room with Barack Obama.� A ballroom seems more likely than the Oval Office. --Ilene Cooper

About the Author

The author was raised in the Bay Area. She started her first media company at age eighteen while attending Long Beach State University. Soon after, she launched and sold a social networking site geared toward moms and began a social media agency, working with Fortune 500 companies. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Mothering, and iVillage.com, where her satirical pieces on parenting and politics have often gone viral. In May 2012, she created Honest Toddler, a character based on her youngest child. She lives with her family outside of Montreal.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451625960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451625967
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,143,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whoever Anonymous is -- Salter or someone else -- he's not a novelist. This is a book that suffers by comparison with other political novels not because of its political point of view but because of the author's poor skills.

The characters aren't really people. They are simply internal monologues with people's names.

There's no action. Anonymous doesn't write about things as they happen; everything is back story. Even events that take place during the timeline of the book don't happen in front of our eyes. Anonymous moves the story three days forward so characters can discuss what happened in past tense. The only real-time occurences in the book are cocktail parties, private meetings, and ruminations.

There's little dialogue. Sure, people talk, but they don't reveal much to us in their actual conversation. Instead, a character says something, and then the author spends three pages telling us what the character thought but didn't say. Then there's another page and a half while the next character thinks about what the first character said. Finally the second character speaks a few lines, and both of them spend several more pages thinking about their respective positions.

People in politics are ambitious, motivated and driven by either ideas or egos or both. A presidential campaign is fascinating; it captures the attention of most of the country for at least two years. This book manages to give it all the fast-paced appeal of a race between two snails.

For Kindle readers: this book lacks an interactive table of contents.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am going to write a review. I tell you this up front because instead of getting right to the review, which I could do in a word, I will utilize the style of the author throughout this book. I will, without actually getting to the point, explain what happens before the point, describe what happens after the point, but not actually tell you what the point is until you slogged through all of this. Finally when I do get to the point, you will be disappointed in how, after building up it's pre-requisites and actions after it occurs, it was really only one word.

In all seriousness, this book is really not worth your time. But, there are a few redeeming qualities. You should know by now that it was written by someone with experience in actual presidential politics. Word is its Mark Salter, formerly of the MCCain campaign. If thats true, then its kind of cool because the book absolutely savages the former governor of alaska (a thinly veiled character named only as the "lusty librarian"). Also, it's clear that the author has no love for the huffington post or it's namesake.

But the real problem is that the writing style is just horrid and the whole plot just mundane. They key turning point for the whole plot ends up being trivial and you find yourself asking, after all the build up - thats it? It's as though the author wrote an outline of the plot and instead of flushing it out through characterization and action, he simply just described the outline more verbosely.

So as I promised, the one word and recommendation - trite and not worth your time.
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Format: Hardcover
A little bit of red meat for the dogs, but to adverstise a book by Mr. Salter as a work of an 'insider' who "has been in the room with Barack Obama" seems to me a little disingenuous. I guess if you want to be creative, you can say that Salter, like McCain and Palin, had as much to do with the election of Barack Obama as anyone. Heck, if I were running Obama's campaign I MIGHT have just considered Salter a staffer. Here is hoping the Obama campaign gave him a bonus for helping them to win in 2008.

No doubt Mr. Salter has talent, but this book isn't the strongest highlight of that talent. Like more recent Tom Clancy novels, Salter seems a bit too interested in score-settling, ideology and adjectives. This all comes at a cost to the actual literary merit of the book. Like others have said before me, Klein's Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics is a better example of political fiction and Epps' The Shad Treatment (Virginia Bookshelf), Beinhart's Wag the Dog: A Novel and Warren's All the King's Men are even better examples.

Buy them instead.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Following the tradition of a Kindle reader, here goes:
The first 10% of this book, I read with care and attention.
The second 10% seemed to fly by with the r/h flipper going faster and faster.
Finally, it seemed easier and less wearing on my right thumb, to just go to 99% and see if something had happened.
Summation: It probably would have been a good idea if "anonymous" had tried better to stay that way. This book could not do a whole lot to further a speech-writer's reputation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This futuristic novel surrounding Obama's mythical 2012 run for Presidential reelection is ill conceived... blatantly uninspiring... and really one of the most boring books I've read in the last year or two. (And I've read a lot of books.) In addition to a pulse-less characterization of Obama, his non-existent Republican challenger, retired four star general and former Governor, Tom "Tom Terrific" Morrison is about as exciting as Al Gore with four stars affixed to his dinner jacket. Even with a limitless pallet of possible unrestrained attacks upon disliked political characters, that any novelist possesses as stock in trade... the author not only shot blanks... but in most cases never even pulled the trigger. The handful (at most) attacks on an unnamed Sarah Palin type character were weak, amateurish, and simply dropped out of nowhere. Such as: "THERE SHE WAS, BABY ON HER HIP, THICK HAIR PILED UP HIGH, CHIN OUT, DEFIANT, TAUNTING, FLAUNTING THAT WHOLE LUSTY LIBRARIAN THING, SWEET AND SAVORY, MOTHER AND PREDATOR, ALLURING AND DANGEROUS." And one of the few others... had to be based solely on writer's jealousy: "SHE HAD, AFTER A PERIOD OF REFLECTION THAT LASTED UNTIL THE END OF HER THIRD VERY PROFITABLE BOOK TOUR, DECIDED NOT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. BUT I'M NOT GOING AWAY, SHE PROMISED HER ADMIRERS. I'LL BE KEEPIN' AN EYE ON YOUR CANDIDATES. I STILL GOT YOUR BACK." Puuuleeessse give me a break.

There are also some embarrassingly simpleton-like negative descriptors hinting at an Arianna Huffington character.("Dahling") But, worse than the promise of broad literary political character "insider" assassination... that is never launched... is the author's overbearing use of words in almost every job description or political action. Time after time...
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