"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 enjoyed every minute of this book. The cast of characters is amazing. I had thought the media had covered everything there was to know about the candidates, and there wasn't more to know. But Heilemann and Halperin expose their human side, as well as that of their spouses and their campaign staffs. Fascinating! Engrossing! Sorry that I've finished the book - but I'm pretty sure that I'll listen to it again in another month or two and still learn new things.
I have to admit, although I placed this book on the old Wish List, it might have languished if it were not for these fake 1 star reviews on Amazon by those Kindle owners who were very unhappy about the publishers not making book available on Kindle right away. As a result the one stars prevailed over the 5 star. I downloaded it...just because of that. I have never read a political book before, even though I have wanted to, and I was interested. After reading the first chapter, I was dubious but after that it took off right away for me. This was the first election I really got behind so I was knowledgeable of time frames -- this book provided much insight to what goes on in the background that I could not believe. I just loved it -- these are political animals -- it's a different breed. Hearing about Obama and Clinton as well as Palin and John McCain behind the scenes was a delight. It was so informative for those who just don't know. I think the Palin & Hillary parts were the most revealing. It's not as dry material as one would think.
This was an incredibly interesting look into the 2008 presidential campaign. VERY well researched, meticulously thought out, and yet, it really does read like a novel. Definitely a page-turner for anyone interested in either politics or the current president.
The only problem was that it didn't really do the republican primary race justice. The democratic side was covered extensively, with in-depth profiles of both the Obama, Clinton, and Edwards campaigns, from start to finish. However, coverage of the republican side focused only on McCain to any significant extent. I was disappointed that the main second-place contender, Mitt Romney, was only glossed over very briefly.
Aside from that drawback, the authors' coverage of the general election was equally as high-quality as the first several chapters on the democratic primary.
I felt that the authors' remained objective and politically neutral, while providing intimate and compelling depictions of why certain campaigns stalled or skyrocketed at different times. The writing is very engaging, which is rare among books that leave the reader with so much new knowledge and insight. The book definitely would have been worthy of a fifth star if not for the limited coverage of the republican primary.
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.
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.
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