"This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it."--Barack Obama, September 2008
In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama.... The shocking fall of the House of Clinton - and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama's partner and America's face to the world.... The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin.
But despite the wall-to-wall media coverage of this spellbinding drama, remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines has yet been told. In Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country's leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. How did Obama convince himself that, despite the thinness of his résumé, he could somehow beat the odds to become the nation's first African-American president? How did the tumultuous relationship between the Clintons shape - and warp - Hillary's supposedly unstoppable bid? What was behind her husband's furious outbursts and devastating political miscalculations? Why did McCain make the novice governor of Alaska his running mate? And was Palin merely painfully out of her depth - or troubled in more serious ways?
Game Change answers those questions and more, laying bare the secret history of the 2008 campaign. This is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel.
©2010 John Heilemann and Mark Halperin; (P)2010 HarperAudio
Being Canadian, watching American politics from the sidelines, is often like watching a sideshow in a circus, as politics in the USA is a somewhat different animal than what we are used to.
The narration was done beautifully first off, and the story behind the Obama election with all the personalities involved was more than interesting.
The authors of Game Change have brought the best and worst of the most well known political figures to the table; McCain, The Clintons, Sarah Palin, and of course Obama in all his glorious arrogance. The thing I found most interesting was how "human" the authors portrayed these politicians. Their failings, their fears, going deep inside their personal lives, and just how vulnerable they are, or can be. These are faces of these people that one doesn't see in TV soundbites or when they are delivering speeches. I applaud the author in this regard, because literally nothing was held back, including the decision making which affected the nation at large. How President Obama finally had Hilary Clinton agree to take over the Sec of State position, after she vehemently told him no. Or how and why McCain chose the loose cannon in Sarah Palin as a running mate, when he had unbelievably qualified and capable people who may have changed the course of history for McCain had he selected them. The stories are raw, the dirt seems real. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and if there is an interest in President Obama and his politics, or how he climbed to the echelon of American politics while steamrolling over his opponents, this book is recommended.
Game Change is such an engrossing look at the behind-the-scenes of the 2008 presidential election. The book brought to life what we the American public saw splashed on the screen lo those many months.
The other book I would compare Game Change to is Conspiracy of Fools by Eichenwald because of the richness and depth of the reporting and the painstaking measures which the authors took to tell the whole story.
Love Dennis Boutsikaris. His intonations and his vocal fry when reading quotes from Bill Clinton - priceless. I could listen all day and all night. The best!
The personalities is what I thought was most interesting. The insecurities and the back-and-forth. I just loves it all.
Narrator had a nice voice BUT!! If you're reading fiction, it's fine for the narrator to pronounce given names as he/she wishes. But when you're dealing with real places (Kissimmee) and public figures (Malia Obama, Senator Bayh, (I forgot the name he botched in Part 1), it is totally unprofessional and disrespectful to not find out the proper way to pronounce a name properly. I doubt I would listen to another book narrated by him.
I would listen to this book again because its gripping descriptions as well as narrative structure tells an interesting true story in a suspenseful format.
The most compelling aspect of this narrative is finding out new information about the central characters. It is so very interesting because I remember this election. It was the first election I could legally vote in, so I felt I had a part in it. Thus, learning about the megalomania of John Edwards, the careless disorganization of John McCain, the tenacity of Palin, the confidence of the Clintons, and the genius of Obama had significant purpose since I felt I was getting to know these familiar people on a new intimate level.
I have not listened to any other Dennis Boutsikaris's performances, but this does not mean that I didn't have an opinion of his voice. A voice, when considering an audiobook or hip-hop song, is central to the work. It is a key to setting the tone and expressing the ideas of the work. When I started listening to this book, I didn't favor Boutsikaris's voice; however, as I progressed in the book, I found his voice to be charming, slightly changing his delivery for each new character.
I particularly loved the moment when Obama decided he and his team needed to move from his slump in October 2007. He moved his troops by admitting all had been off, including himself and acknowledged all of them wanted to win the election. Obama's staff had to also face the truth of their current losing state. Thus, Obama proposed changing things and he humbly inspired his staff. It was triumphal moment.
I'm a political animal but I did not know much within the book. Most fascinating to me were the internal discussions in the campaigns, the development of strategy, and then the evaluation of whether the strategy was effective -- or in some cases whether it ever got tried.
If you have any interest in how candidates decide to run and get chosen by their parties, read this book.
While I followed the election closely in 2008, Heilmann and Halperin gave inside information from their many interviews with the actual actors in the 2008 Election Story! Loved every minute of this audio book.
Great behind the scenes telling of the 2008 Presidential election. The book is weighted more heavily on telling the Democratic story because of the rivalry between Obama and Clinton but a fair treatment of the GOP is done as well. Excellent coverage of the John Edwards fiasco of a campaign (I never knew Elizabeth Edwards was the way she is described in this book) as well as the challenges that Sarah Palin faced when thrust into the national spotlight. Dennis Boutsikaris does a fine job with the narration. I highly recommend this book. It doesn't present the story from a conservative or liberal point of view but seeks to just tell the story and allow the listener to form his/her own opinion which is refreshing.
The behind-the-scenes feeling that I hard while listening was different than other political books I have read.
Theodore White's book on JFK would be the closest because of an insider's look at political intrigue.
John McCain's complete ignorance of the what makes leader's great.
Extraordinary look at several campaign's efforts to win office
Great review of all the campaigns' efforts to win. Current movie only relates the story of how and why McCain lost. Bad judgment appears to be the downfall of many a man.
Production credits at the end of this recording identify companies rather than individuals. That may not be why there are so many obvious edits, mispronunciations and really, really cheesy cliches in the text, but the book and the recording evidence a rush to finish rather than an effort to create a lasting work of history.
Waiting until the second part of the book to begin talking about the McCain campaign leaves the first section feeling thin and perhaps biased. But the story focuses intently on the personal aspect of politics, how very small personal moments impact lasting decisions.
Hillary and Sarah Palin are both accused of being unbalanced; John McCain's and Hillary's daughters both receive negative comparisons to hookers; and guessing which of the two people in any particular conversation is the source for the authors is almost impossible to avoid.
It's a long ride, and you already know the way it turns out, but there are moments of real drama along the way and a number of new stories to boot. It's a shame the narration is as sloppy as the writing itself often is, but the rewards more than make up for the problems.
This book very well summarizes the Obama/Biden, Edwards, Clinton and McCain/Palin campaigns warts and all. It's nice to see truly fair and balanced information in the historical record of this campaign. Highly recommended for any news junkie, politico, historian, or journalist who really wants the inside scoop of the 2008 elections.
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