"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
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I followed the election with attention to the smallest details, yet these two authors managed to find things I'd heard nothing about. This book doesn't set out to be a flattery piece. It does reveal truths. In many cases, the truth is not pretty.
The way they captured personality nuances of the major players is significant. It's more than McCain's daredevil, Palin's whatever, Hillary's determination and Obama's calm. How it played out day-to-day amidst a grueling campaign is fascinating. It's interesting if you like the nitty gritty of politics and want to understand some of the human motivation behind the headlines.
I came out of the book with newfound appreciation for the strengths of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That they were able to find a way to work together and become friends is amazing.
I listen while driving. When I review, I'm much more apt to discuss the performance than the content. Sometimes, a bit of both.
If politics is your thing then this a must read! The narrative is tight, proving the rule again from English Comp 101: "There is no good writing, only good rewriting". Well balanced and candid without sounding like gadflies, this is a fantastic book for the long commute.
It was also very well produced and the audio is very clean. Dennis Boutsikaris does a great job keeping the voices separate. Even his Bill Clinton voice is subtle enough to avoid the cardinal sin of being distracting.
Delight in the journey and the struggle on the road to your dreams
It was long ago in a time of conflict and treachery when a man from a land far away came to power despite the best efforts of a baby boomer couple, an angry Vietnam Vet, and a woman who comes from nowhere. The woman from nowhere soon becomes a story bigger than the economic collapse of Planet Earth. She's a milf with a five kids, one of whom is a pregnant 17 year old daughter, a husband who's a longtime proponent of Alaskan secession, not to mention a propensity for sticking her foot in her mouth. She was the biggest reason that this book soon became a movie. It also made a star of an obscure actress named Tina Fey; the campaign not the film. Though it appeared obvious that the authors liked the man from the faraway land to win the authors were diligent in their efforts to expose his peccadilloes including his strange minister. Given all the really weird religious fervor in the other party it seems strange indeed that they didn't mention the exorcism of the woman from Alaska.
All in all it's a nice book; I learned a lot.
Cranky elderly writer/copy editor
OK, to start with, the whole book is deep background, which means you'll just have to take the authors' words that they're giving you the straight scoop. The story never drags and it effortlessly keeps its cast of hundreds clear in the head of the reader/listener.
It's a totally glib piece of maybe-faux-reportage but eerily enchanting in a gossipy train-wreck kind of way that I love every minute of though makes me feel dirty afterwards. (Admittedly, I have ambivalence issues.)
Boutsikaris is just pitch-perfect, the only unabashed 5-stars I can give, hinting at the cadences of the better known speakers without flat-out imitating them.
Read this book now while you clearly remember the 2008 election! It is fun to compare your perceptions of each campaign with what was actually happening behind the scenes. I am not a reader of political books, but this read like fast paced fiction. Lots of gossipy tid-bits that provide a fun look into each contender's campaign.
This fun, fast-paced book does a great job of covering some of the "inside baseball" during the 2008 Campaign. The authors have done their homework.
All authors have biases, and Heilemann and Halperin are no exception. I think they make an earnest, journalistic effort to be objective, and largely they're successful.
The most nuanced and multi-faceted character in the book is Hillary Clinton: sometimes conniving, protective mother, earnest crusader, spiteful pol, dismissive in victory, gracious in defeat, beloved statesman, mistrusted reminder of the Clinton Administration.
Eventhough I find politics rather boring this book had some good moments. The one problem is that it makes everyone seem so "human". While I personally like Sarah Palin, this book (if you can believe it) makes it very clear how she was totally unprepared to be president. You'll enjoy the book.
The book is very well written, and I have to assume pretty much true. I didn't think 14 hours of this subject matter in an audio book would keep my attention.....well it did and then some.
I liked this book because it filled a gap in history texts I have read over the years: What were these people thinking? What were the problems they were facing, actually?
I hope this kind of book continues and begins a trend towards "present-time history" based on what was said and thought rather than on what some clever historian thinks or guesses what was said during historical moments. In other words, we have official photographers for presidents and other leaders, but we do not have a record of "what they thought and said."
Game Change is secretly a paen to Obama. Nowhere does it explain how he got to his philosophical base that he demonstrates today. It does show his intelligence and his connections to the most powerful financial people in the world before the election.
McCain is an angry man who is incapable of grasping difficult issues.
Obama is rather more gracious and more intelligent than I had imagined.
Sarah Palin, can "get it" and she can "lose it" all in the same day. Personally, I hope she will one day "get it" and keep it that way. She will be unstoppable then.
I now understand Hillary Clinton much better, and her relationship with husband Bill. I have much more respect for Hillary than before, although I am afraid for what she really believes, as I am afraid I have found out too late what Obama "really believes." Bill is such an amazing piece of work: he can help his wife win campaigns and to win, and then trip her up a day later. At the same time, on some level I really respect Bill, only now after all these years.
Bill and a very wealthy playboy friend of his traveled around the world in a private Boeing 757 called "Air F**k One." While Hillary was campaigning. She deserves some credit for living with that yet still being effective.
After following the 2008 elections closely I was eager to read/listen to this book. Didn't get much - most of it I'd heard or read about in gossip articles & from following the process. Covers the behind the scenes of the democrats side in detail but not as much on the republican side.
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