John Heilemann and Mark Halperin set the national conversation on fire with their best-selling account of the 2008 presidential election, Game Change. In Double Down, they apply their unparalleled access and storytelling savvy to the 2012 election, rendering an equally compelling narrative about the circus-like Republican nomination fight, the rise and fall of Mitt Romney, and the trials, tribulations, and Election Day triumph of Barack Obama.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Heilemann and Halperin deliver another reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, Double Down offers a panoramic account of a campaign at once intensely hard fought and lastingly consequential. For Obama, the victory he achieved meant even more to him than the one he had pulled off four years earlier. In 2008, he believed, voters had bet on a hope; in 2012, they passed positive judgment on what he'd actually done, allowing him to avert a loss that would have rendered his presidency a failed, one-term accident.
For the Republicans, on the other hand, 2012 not only offered a crushing verdict but an existential challenge: to rethink and reconstitute the party or face irrelevance - or even extinction. Double Down is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of an election of singular importance.
As with their book Game Change which chronicled the 2008 presidential election, Halperin and Heilemann burrow deep into the back story of the 2012 presidential election. The book opens rivetingly with President Obama having a crisis within himself after his disastrous first debate performance in Denver.
The book continues with the surprising infighting of the Obama White House, Mitt Romney's need to court the right wing of his base by picking Paul Ryan as VP candidate, and Romney's disdain for popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Trivial matters such as Donald Trump's birther comments, Romney adviser Stuart Stevens vomiting over Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention performance, and tidbits such as John Huntsman Sr. being the source of Harry Reid's claim that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes for ten years add to the mix along the way.
Although an enjoyable and fast paced read, this book lacks some of the urgency felt in Game Change. The latter part of the book dealing with the Republican Primary candidates is full of drama and excitement but strangely seems flat at the same time as most in the know, including the Obama camp, always expected Romney to win the nomination anyway.
The authors should be commended for their non-partisan approach to the efforts. This is a book about the political process and its characters who are presented with strengths and flaws. The authors manage to tell the tale without taking a side which is an accomplishment in itself.
One good thing about this book--the author's did a decent job of making it non-partisan.
I'm not sure what caused this book to be so disappointing to me--was it the narrator who was so flat and dry, or the actual way the material was put together? It seems like the plan was just to comprise a chronological list of events, and then just read down the line and check off each one.
There wasn't any real excitement or anticipation - which was definitely there throughout Game Change. For political junkies who almost memorized every speech, gaff or event of the last election, I think this book will be a let down. If you weren't glued to the political news programs, and didn't know about all the "inside shenanigans," you will probably enjoy it more. I have heard that people who read the actual book (vs listening) found it to be a lot more engaging.
Even though I found it half as good as Game Change, I couldn't give it 2.5, so had to round up. There are only a few reviews of this book on Audible so far, and I will really be interested to see what other's thought.
The book does a fairly good job of reliving the election of 2012 going all the way back to the earliest republican primary battles. There are allot of new and interesting bits. The kind of stuff that one says "I can't wait until the book is written on this to really know what happened behind the scenes." For example, how did Obama prepare for the first debate and what was the cause of his poor performance? Or how did the whole Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC go so wrong? But all together this is really just a recap of the media's portrayal of the election as a neck and neck fight all the way to the finish just with some extra insider perspective. There is no real explanation for how Obama won by such a landslide in electoral votes. I don't feel like I'm getting the real inside scoop, just a more in-depth version of what was portrayed in the media at the time. What about some insight into how new technologies where applied and what did the Romney campaign do to miss out?
Firstly, pitch perfect narration by Robert Fass.
As for the book itself, perhaps not as exciting as "Game Change", but only because the 2012 election was in itself less exciting. Rather than an explosive new candidate in a no-incumbent election (2008), this book is about the re-election of a struggling president vs. the election of a previously failed presidential candidate we were all pretty familiar with.
That said, the writing is thoroughly engaging and I devoured it!
It probably helps that I followed both elections fairly closely. Getting the inside perspective on moments that from the outside seemed unbelievable, had me rolling around in hysterics - think Clint Eastwood and the chair - hilarious!
One gripe was the cheesy overuse of the title (and tagline) Double Down, but just being picky.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I'm a politics junkie, and the presidential race is the Super Bowl of politics. Unfolding as it does over the course of several years, it is a long drawn-out process, sometimes painfully so. But not this book! This is like the NFL Films version, reliving all the best moments of the race, replete with the sideline chatter that you don't hear in the heat of the race.That this was the kookiest presidential race in my lifetime, and certainly one of the most partisan, made the process of reliving it through Double Down that much more interesting and fun. Especially Part 2, reconstructing the Republican primary race. Double Down details how most of the serious hopefuls chose to sit this one out and how most of the fringe candidates jumped in feet first.With all of the ex-post explanations of how and why certain episodes went down, what can you say, this is candy for political junkies.
Game Change, of course, being this year's version of the inside scoop on the presidential race. But the big difference is that the 2008 election was made most interesting by the presence of two women, Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary and Sarah Palin as the surprise Republican VP nominee. Double Down has a broader set of characters.
No character performances per se, as this is non-fiction, bringing in quotes from a wide variety of players, but never really focusing on any one, at least not through their own words or anything resembling dialogue. But clearly the most interesting character here is Mitt Romney -- with everyone else being more or less tangential to the race, it had to either be him or Obama, but after years of watching Obama as president, his presence in Double Down is not as much of a revelation as Romney.It's truly fascinating to relive his evolution from incorrigible flip-flopper to a guy who doubles down on even the most ludicrous of positions just to avoid being labeled a flip-flopper -- the series of self-inflicted wounds he brought down on himself is mind-boggling (as evidenced by Obama scratching his head at every turn wondering what the heck his opponent thinks he's doing).
Too long for that. Also, there are three distinct sections -- Obama pre-2012, the Republican primary, and the general election -- so perhaps three sittings is more apropos.
One can only hope that Halperin and Heilemann will be there every election cycle to get the full story out to the public after the fact. Their first two entries, Game Change and Double Down, are simply indispensable. Required reading for anyone wanting to gain insight into our complex election process. It's obviously harder to find positives if your candidate was on the losing side, but the authors are professionally independent-minded throughout, perhaps even to a fault, and there are lessons to be learned about all sides of the process regardless of the outcome.
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
I recently read a review of this book which criticized it as deriving from 'The Great Men' theory of history as opposed to a more social historical analysis of the longer term trends that drove the results of this election. Baloney!
This is a reporter's book of what happened behind the scenes of the presidential campaign that many political junkies and others who follow politics closely love knowing about. It is NOT an historical analysis of the election results and in no way attempts to be one.
I enjoyed it tremendously and the narrator was great.
I also read GAME CHANGE and loved that - perhaps even more because there was more suspense to that election.
This is highly recommended for those looking to understand what went into some of the decisions made by the campaigns rather than a social explanation of the outcome. The only reason I rated it four stars instead of five is that I enjoyed GAME CHANGE even more.
Engrossing, insightful, thorough
The authors offer tremendous insight into the election of 2012.
Clear diction, excellent pacing.
Chris Christie's vetting by the Romney campaign turned up many surprising issues!
While lacking the drama of the 2008 elections, the book again demonstrates great depth of reporting by the authors.
I'm a book person. I always think the book was better than the movie....always. That being said, I never read the first book, "Game Change" - i only saw the movie. Obviously, it was an excellent screenplay and had some pretty amazing performances, so maybe that spoiled me for the reading of this 2nd book. Game Change had so many juicy tidbits of info that I'd not previously heard while watching the coverage of the Obama v. McCain race. In Double Down, I feel like I'm just sitting through a re-hashing of stuff I already know - or already sort of knew. Although, to be fair, Romney/Ryan were nowhere near the level of entertainment that Sarah Palin herself provides, so perhaps, it's not the book &/or authors' fault?
Narrator does a good job.
I was concerned that the book wouldn't tell me much I didn't already know, but I had a hard time putting it down. The first section, between the 2010 mid-terms and the Republican race was a bit boring, but not mind-numbingly so. The primary coverage was fascinating, and took up over a third of the story -- I had no idea that the establishment had been working so frantically behind the scenes to get Christie into the race, to avoid being stuck with Mitt. The final part on the general was largely focused on the debates I felt, with some reference to Hurricane Sandy and other events, seeming a bit tacked-on/rushed in that regard. In the final post-mortem, it was obvious that Mitt and his team failed to acknowledge that they lost because they were out-of-step with the American people, blaming the loss (pretty much) solely on higher-than-predicted Dem turnout (by the infamous 47%).
Audio narration was very good, a few minor quibbles aside.
I really enjoyed Mark Halperin and John Heileman's Game Change so I decided to use a credit on Double Down. It was a credit well spent.
Let me say that once again Halperin and Heilemann takes the listener deep inside the real mechanics of political campaigns at the highest level.
Carefully researched without being at all dry, Double Down's insider's view reveals the miss-steps, slip-ups, and dumb luck that can doom or lift a presidential race.
Presidential campaigns are a lot like making sausage. Don't listen if you don't want to know what really goes on.
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