Game Change
“It’s one of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22.” —The Financial Times “It transports you to a parallel universe in which everything in the National Enquirer is true….More interesting is what we learn about the candidates themselves: their frailties, egos and almost super-human stamina.” —The Financial Times “I can’t put down this book!” —Stephen Colbert Game Change is the New York Times bestselling story of the 2008 presidential election, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the best political reporters in the country. In the spirit of Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes and Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President 1960, this classic campaign trail book tells the defining story of a new era in American politics, going deeper behind the scenes of the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin campaigns than any other account of the historic 2008 election.

Game Change Details

TitleGame Change
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 11th, 2010
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780061733635
Rating
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, History

Game Change Review

  • brian
    January 1, 1970
    "great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."the great & average: fuck off and get lost. the small-minded: enjoy!1. sarah palin. in a way, she fares quite well. you gotta think about it like this: if one were to invite a chimpanzee over for dinner, when the monkey started flinging its own feces, knocking over bottles, yanking away the tablecloth… one couldn't very well get upset, could they? palin is palin. gotta accept it.fun, of course, are mccain's "great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."the great & average: fuck off and get lost. the small-minded: enjoy!1. sarah palin. in a way, she fares quite well. you gotta think about it like this: if one were to invite a chimpanzee over for dinner, when the monkey started flinging its own feces, knocking over bottles, yanking away the tablecloth… one couldn't very well get upset, could they? palin is palin. gotta accept it.fun, of course, are mccain's strategist's reactions after they realize exactly who and what she is: "Oh. My. God.""She knows nothing."for a while they suspect that she's mentally unstable and hire a doctor to watch and analyze. and, when they question how she is always able to remain calm, to accept it all as it comes, to seamlessly change overnight from obscure alaskan politician to global mega-celebrity, she explains: "It's all part of god's plan."2. john and elizabeth edwards. the big myth of the campaign, as understood by the edwards staff, was "Saint Elizabeth" --she did a great job of projecting an image of holiness, and much of it came down to a few things:1. she had cancer2. john cheated on her when she had cancer3. he fathered a child with a woman he was sleeping with while she had cancer. 4. when asked why voters liked john edwards, this guy dared say what lots of people thought: "I like that he's got a fat wife! I thought he'd be married to a Barbie or a cheerleader."the reality of the situation, as per this book, is that john is a callow, shallow, self-obssesed and somewhat delusional fuck who carried on an affair with a whacked out hippy partygirl who, upon meeting people for the first time, handed a business card which read: "Being is Free: Rielle Hunter - Truth Seeker"and elizabeth. whew. she came from a wealthy family. john didn't. she took every opportunity to make john well aware of this fact. regularly called him a 'hick'. referred to his parents as 'rednecks'. one time, a friend asked if john had read a book and she exclaimed, "Oh, he doesn't read books! I'm the one who reads!"some of elizabeth's greatest hits: - "Why the fuck do you think I'd want to go sit outside a Wal-Mart and hand out leaflets? I want to talk to persuadable voters!"- when the staff was having trouble arranging her husband's health care coverage she threatened to cut off the entire staff's coverage until john had his. this attained a good degree of infamy within the campaign as the edwards' were worth tens of millions and much of their staff worked for minimum wage or for free. - when john admitted to having an affair he continued to deny that the child was his (he knew it was) so that obama would tap him for attorney general and then when the truth came out, he'd already have the job. when elizabeth was asked if she believed his denial, she responded: "I have to believe my husband's denial. Because if I don't, it means I'm married to a monster."- an excerpt: 'At the terminal, the couple fought in the passenger waiting area. They fought outside in the parking lot. Elizabeth was sobbing, out of control, incoherent. As their aides tried to avert their eyes, she tore off her blouse, exposing herself. “Look at me!” she wailed at John and then staggered, nearly falling to the ground.'3. john mccain. an excerpt: "Fuck you! FUCK, FUCK, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!" John McCain let out the stream of sharp epithets, both middle fingers raised and extended, barking in his wife's face. He was angry; she had interrupted him. Cindy burst into tears, but, really, she should have been used to it by now."the key to who john mccain became, to some extent, his 'rosebud', was the 2000 south carolina primary in which he was demolished by the bush team. mccain did better than expected in new hampshire and the bush team broke from the agreement not to go negative and created rumors that mccain's adopted bangladesh daughter was actually the illegitimate child of a black hooker. they also told voters that mccain lost his marbles in the hanoi hilton. mccain couldn't let that happen again. he hadda keep his maverick reputation but had to suck off the establishment; had to, in some ways, become the establishment. it was tough: the rightwing freakshow hated mccain, right-wing radio regularly abused him, the religious right doubted him. so he backtracked on his stance on torture. on amnesty for immigrants. he shut the fuck up about gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research, etc. and he decided that, although he wasn't 100% sure of the surge, he knew he had make it the defining theme of the campaign and make obama look like the unpatriotic inexperienced pussy. fuck 2000. he was different this time. he was angry. stubborn. cranky. and he didn't like barack obama at all. y'see, when obama was new to the senate, mccain, as he often did, saw a star quality to obama and approached him with the offer of co-sponsoring a bill to create a kind of bipartisan goodwill. a nice gesture. obama interpreted this as some kind of condescending patronizing bullshit and rejected the offer... with a form letter. fuck that shit, yo. mccain sent obama a nasty letter. and that was that. when mccain saw the freakshow he helped create… he was appalled. as his rallies became filled with wingnuts screaming out that obama was a 'terrorist' or 'muslim' or 'arab', he knew something had gone wrong. mccain frequently cites for whom the bells toll as his favorite novel. he should've read moby dick. and taken notes. 4. bill and hillary clinton. bill is kind of a charmed guy now, ain't he? pals around with both bush 41 & 43. is universally admired as the genius political brain of our time. and now that the right wing has a new hitler/marx/socialist/appeaser they're free to make good on the 'whores, buildings, and politicians grow respectable with age' theory. but bill, as we remember, became unhinged on the campaign trail. and hillary was blunt: "i can't control him". her staff created a 'war room within the war room' to figure how to handle bill -- his gaffes, his anger, his overbearing presence, his trips to l.a., miami, and las vegas aboard what the staffers called 'air fuck one'…the clintons are kind of lovable, but they're also kind of awful. incredibly calculating and scheming and manipulative and they fight real dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrty. revealed is that clinton and bush 43 are great friends. in fact, through much of 43's presidency, he'd call bill and they'd just hang on the phone for an hour chewing the fat. it kinda makes sense, actually.5. barack and michelle obama. you know how you watch a jimmy stewart movie and you totally dig it but it's too much of a fairy tale? well, obama's kinda like that. by every account he's a real guy. drinks beer, smokes, hangs out… and he looooooves his wife and kids. never any rumors of indiscretions, no edwards or clinton bullshit. guy spends any free time he has hanging with michelle. he married up and he knows it. it's kinda fucking adorable. yeah, he can be arrogant, but he's not full of shit. and he can fight dirty. for sure. but - and this seems the most unbelievable part of the entire book - he absolutely refused to go for personal attacks against his enemies. when his campaign dug up some bullshit on bill and hillary's personal life that was tested to be effective he nixed it. according to the book's authors obama was genuinely afraid of turning into a bad guy. and his level of focus? remarkable. when one of his staffers asked about the mccain/palin team as it started going down in flames, barack's explanation:"no fucking discipline."the bit players. everyone loathes romney. i loathe lieberman. biden is, of course, a showboaty bigmouth, but we kinda love his pompous sinatraesque ways. mark penn is like jabba the hut only less charismatic. bush 43 is, at times, stunned by mccain's lack of political acumen. fuck cheney.
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  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI don't generally make a habit of posting my political beliefs in public forums, but that is a difficult subject to escape when reviewing a book about politics. I mean, it's possible. I could write something dull and impartial like, "GAME CHANGE is a great look into the 2008 election. Eye-opening. I enjoyed it" - but let's be honest, okay? Where is the fun in that? Plus, as it turns out, I actually have some sincere thoughts on the subject. Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI don't generally make a habit of posting my political beliefs in public forums, but that is a difficult subject to escape when reviewing a book about politics. I mean, it's possible. I could write something dull and impartial like, "GAME CHANGE is a great look into the 2008 election. Eye-opening. I enjoyed it" - but let's be honest, okay? Where is the fun in that? Plus, as it turns out, I actually have some sincere thoughts on the subject. I know, what a surprise. A blogger having an opinion. Imagine that.Since there's a fairly good chance Clinton might become president #45, I bought a few nonfiction books about her because I wanted to see what she's about. One is adoring, tinted by the rosy lenses of nostalgia - it's called REBELS IN WHITE GLOVES, and it's about Hillary Clinton, and the women in her graduating class at Wellesley, and how their ideals helped mold the world. This book, GAME CHANGE, is a bit more unforgiving. Everybody's friends in politics, except when there's an election. Then it's Mean Girls on steroids with million dollar smear campaigns - oh, and on Wednesdays, we wear flag pins.The first two-thirds of this book are exclusively about Clinton and Obama, and their rivalry to secure the position of the democratic candidate. I remember these events pretty well, because this was the first election I ever voted in, so everything was new to me, and I was completely wide-eyed as I tried to take everything in. It was a pretty historic election period for the democrats, because no matter which way it went down, they were going to get a first - the first black president or the first female president. Regardless of who I voted for in that election, I'm surprised to say that I like Hillary Clinton a lot more this go-round. Like many others, her 2008 run left a bad taste in my mouth. She was ruthless back then, and not in a good way. Many of her tactics were low-blows, and she came across as unnecessarily militant with her policies for the Middle East. Some of that is explained in this book - she was put in a difficult position, forced to stand by decisions she made when the war was still popular, and afraid to go back on her decision and being a flip-flopper like Kerry. Part of the reason for her tenacity is because of who she was running against. Obama was unflappable, calm, cool, and collected, and it's hard to run against someone like that as a woman and still get your two cents in - too quiet and they call you meek and subservient, too loud and they call you a nasty woman. You really can't win. She's mellowed out now, and she's not making the same mistakes that she made before, which is very reassuring. She seems prepared and doesn't allow herself to be baited.Some people criticizing this book have pointed out that Hillary doesn't come out looking like a good person, shrieking and screaming when things don't go her way. But Obama doesn't escape criticism, either, which I appreciated because some of his missteps actually explained a lot of the antagonism in the race. He slighted John McCain, turning down a position he'd been offered in 2007, and Hillary Clinton essentially took him under her wing when he was still a young senator, so according to the book, she felt like he'd betrayed her, and cut ahead of her in the presidential line. One of the reasons the race might have felt so personal was because it was; both of his opponents may have had cause to feel betrayed by him. And don't even get me started on John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. I had no idea how messed up that situation was. A real sh*t show.The Republicans and vice-presidential nominees don't make an appearance until the last third, where they're all lumped together with a quick conclusion and afterword. I actually felt a little sorry for Palin at the end of this - although the image of her surrounded by mountains of index cards as she studied policy with her increasingly frantic aides made me laugh a bit. It's interesting to think about how the election might have played out if McCain had ignored the advice of Rove and gone with one of his earlier choices of running mate, Joe Lieberman.The book ends on a happy note, with Clinton a little worse for wear but still as proud and indomitable as ever, being handed the olive branch in the form of Secretary of State by Barack Obama. A decent consolation prize, as far as things go.I couldn't do politics. I hate superficiality, and in politics it's all about that glittery facade that posturing politicos put on for the public, when really, the two parties are made of mostly the same stuff with different labels. Or at least, that's how things used to be. There didn't use to be that much difference between the two parties, except for a few key issues. Now, it seems like a number of things are partisan issues that shouldn't be partisan issues, like consent and civil rights, for example, and that rallies of some parties (one in particular) are becoming overrun with people looking for a platform to spew hate. That's one of the things that has me so upset about this election.It's something that I think many of us have reason to be upset about with this election.3 to 3.5 stars
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  • Lorin Kleinman
    January 1, 1970
    Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heileman, tells the riveting (and deeply fun) human story of the 2008 election--which was vastly more dysfunctional than anyone knew. As Halperin pointed out recently, it gives one pause to realize that the Clintons had only the fourth most dysfunctional marriage in the campaign: the Edwardses, the Giulianis and the McCains all had exceedingly troubled unions. Screaming fights in front of the staff abound; spouses are jealous of the candidates' relationship Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heileman, tells the riveting (and deeply fun) human story of the 2008 election--which was vastly more dysfunctional than anyone knew. As Halperin pointed out recently, it gives one pause to realize that the Clintons had only the fourth most dysfunctional marriage in the campaign: the Edwardses, the Giulianis and the McCains all had exceedingly troubled unions. Screaming fights in front of the staff abound; spouses are jealous of the candidates' relationships with their advisers; Bill Clinton behaves like Bill Clinton; John Edwards blatantly carries on an affair; and Elizabeth Edwards, in stark contrast to her public persona, seems to be truly deplorable. And everyone swears incessantly. Only the Obamas--though certainly not depicted as perfect--emerge as genuinely likable characters.The candidates' styles were, not surprisingly, reflected in their campaigns. Clinton and McCain both ran operations in which the staff despised each other, and McCain's campaign lacked even the semblance of real organization. It is shocking that a presidential campaign can be run this sloppily; Game Change observes that Sarah Palin was vetted so hastily that it resembled the selection process for an assistant secretary of agriculture, not a potential vice president. The authors manage to evoke a certain amount of sympathy for Palin, who was put into an enormous role that she was not qualified for, without any preparation, or any organizational structure to back her up. The Obama campaign, on the other hand, was run with tremendous efficiency by people who respected each other and worked together like adults.By the end, with Edwards abandoned by his party and McCain's campaign widely ridiculed, it seems clear that Obama got exactly what he deserved.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    The 2008 presidential election for me was like a Super Bowl, a World Cup, and a grand soap opera, all rolled into one. So it was a no-brainer that I would run from bookstore to bookstore in order to find me a copy of Game Change. (Thanks, Costco!) I was not disappointed. In a concise and chronological narrative, the authors highlight the Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin, and Clinton campaigns in a thrilling behind-the-scenes look at the turmoil and drama that voters didn't see. My suspicions were large The 2008 presidential election for me was like a Super Bowl, a World Cup, and a grand soap opera, all rolled into one. So it was a no-brainer that I would run from bookstore to bookstore in order to find me a copy of Game Change. (Thanks, Costco!) I was not disappointed. In a concise and chronological narrative, the authors highlight the Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin, and Clinton campaigns in a thrilling behind-the-scenes look at the turmoil and drama that voters didn't see. My suspicions were largely confirmed: Barack Obama is aloof but supremely confident and self-assured, and works in earnest to solve problems; Hillary Clinton is ruthlessly competitive but fiercely loyal and committed to her ideals; John McCain is an aged frat-boy with an uncontrollably foul temper, and a mouth to match, who prides himself on being, well, mavericky. And then there's Sarah Palin. The book honestly portrays the gamble McCain took when he selected the Alaska governor as his running mate, and the way his campaign handled (mis-handled) the aftermath of her selection. The authors were sympathetic, if candid, about her state of preparation for the vice presidency. As a Romney supporter I was dismayed at the way his campaign was marginalized. For example, there was no mention of the effect Benazir Bhutto's assassination had just days before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes on the sudden surge of national security to the top of voter concerns. Also, the authors merely glossed over the antics of the Huckabee campaign and others who made an issue of Romney's religious beliefs. Overall though, this is a must-read for any U.S. political junkie.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    I was still working in a newsroom during the 2008 presidential election, and when it was over I was so sick of political coverage that I couldn't imagine reading a 400-page book about it. But Game Change got such good reviews that I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.Game Change is a behind-the-scenes look at the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain and Sarah Palin. If you're a political junkie, the book is compulsively readable. So many scenes from it I was still working in a newsroom during the 2008 presidential election, and when it was over I was so sick of political coverage that I couldn't imagine reading a 400-page book about it. But Game Change got such good reviews that I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.Game Change is a behind-the-scenes look at the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain and Sarah Palin. If you're a political junkie, the book is compulsively readable. So many scenes from it still resonate with me years later: the drama of John and Elizabeth Edwards, the panic in the McCain and Palin camp, and the tension between Obama and the Clintons. I saw that Mark Halperin has a new book coming out about the 2012 election, and if it's as well-written as Game Change, it will be a great read.
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  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    Description via wiki: Game Change is a 2012 American HBO political drama film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign of John McCain, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, based on the 2010 book of the same name documenting the campaign by political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The film stars Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris, and focuses on the chapters about the selection and performance of Governor of Alaska Sarah Pal Description via wiki: Game Change is a 2012 American HBO political drama film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign of John McCain, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, based on the 2010 book of the same name documenting the campaign by political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The film stars Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris, and focuses on the chapters about the selection and performance of Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (Moore) as running mate to Senator John McCain (Harris) in the Republican presidential campaign.The plot features a 2010 interview of the campaign's senior strategist Steve Schmidt (Harrelson), using flashbacks to portray McCain and Palin during their ultimately unsuccessful campaign. The film was well received by critics, with Moore's portrayal of Palin garnering praise. Schmidt praised the film, though Palin and McCain criticized it and refused to see it. Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times described Moore's depiction of Palin as "a sharp-edged but not unsympathetic portrait of a flawed heroine, colored more in pity than in admiration.Oh, I did enjoy seeing this - and it is not surprising that McCain is such a strong voice against the present incumbent: he rode on a country before party ticket. So GOP have had 8 years to rectify a dysfunctional party and Trump is all they could come up with????Julianne Moore was superb.
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  • Hadrian
    January 1, 1970
    Say, remember the 2008 presidential campaign and how wild we thought it all was? How Hillary's professional campaign lost to some upstart with big ears and a funny name from Illinois, how one of the Democratic front-runners, John Edwards, imploded from having extra-marital affairs and campaign finance laws? (Come to think of it, who remembers when campaign finance laws were enforced?)Ever remember how John McCain actually defended Barack Obama from those allegations that he was a secret Muslim? Say, remember the 2008 presidential campaign and how wild we thought it all was? How Hillary's professional campaign lost to some upstart with big ears and a funny name from Illinois, how one of the Democratic front-runners, John Edwards, imploded from having extra-marital affairs and campaign finance laws? (Come to think of it, who remembers when campaign finance laws were enforced?)Ever remember how John McCain actually defended Barack Obama from those allegations that he was a secret Muslim? Or when Sarah Palin was the most gaffe-prone person in politics and couldn't name a single newspaper she read? (and then called the question 'gotcha journalism'?)Oh, what a world we live in. But I admit I sometimes read campaign news almost for the same reasons I watch college football. So it goes.
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  • Chip
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely riveting - it's 11:00 am and I am only now headed to work, because I simply couldn't put this book down. A fascinating and whatever the opposite of "dry" is look into the 2008 Democrat and Republican presidential campaigns. Admittedly, I follow politics somewhat - but really anyone with an even passing interest should enjoy this. Edit: Watched the HBO movie based off this book. Good - but very superficial in comparison to, and only covering approx 20% of the scope of, the book. For ex Absolutely riveting - it's 11:00 am and I am only now headed to work, because I simply couldn't put this book down. A fascinating and whatever the opposite of "dry" is look into the 2008 Democrat and Republican presidential campaigns. Admittedly, I follow politics somewhat - but really anyone with an even passing interest should enjoy this. Edit: Watched the HBO movie based off this book. Good - but very superficial in comparison to, and only covering approx 20% of the scope of, the book. For example, there is nada about the Democratic nomination process, so right there the first half of the book has been skipped. In other words, watching the movie is no substitute for reading the book.
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    The best line in the whole book is from John McCain, speaking of the Republicans: "Why would I want to be the leader of a party of such assholes?"
  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine a reality TV show that is one-third strategy, one-third destiny, and one-third spectacle. A show that chronicles the brutal race for the most powerful office in the world, and that features bigger-than-life personalities - all of whom could star in a Shakespearean play, and some of whom, a Jerry Springer special. Now envision yourself curled up on a couch next to a roaring fire on a rain-drenched night watching this TV show with a big bowl of buttery popcorn and a mug of made-from-scratc Imagine a reality TV show that is one-third strategy, one-third destiny, and one-third spectacle. A show that chronicles the brutal race for the most powerful office in the world, and that features bigger-than-life personalities - all of whom could star in a Shakespearean play, and some of whom, a Jerry Springer special. Now envision yourself curled up on a couch next to a roaring fire on a rain-drenched night watching this TV show with a big bowl of buttery popcorn and a mug of made-from-scratch-with-whole-milk hot chocolate. Are you with me? Are you sensing the intense pleasure of all this? I hope so. Because that’s Game Change. A behind-the-scenes look at the major players of the 2008 Presidential election, this book was riveting and compelling and all the other adjectives you find on the back cover of bestsellers. The seasoned journalists who conducted the 400+ interviews and wrote the book clearly know a good story when they see one. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall when Hillary met secretly with Obama to discuss the terms of her withdrawal from the race? (She asked for help to pay her campaign debts and he declined.) Who wouldn’t want a peek inside McCain’s mind when he tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate? (She was literally a last-minute decision.) A couple warnings. First. If you’re a Palin-loving Tea Party member or a diehard Bill Clinton democrat you won’t like how your icons are portrayed. If you're an Obama-hater you won't like how he's portrayed either. I’m none of the above so the book didn’t bother me. Second. All the candidates need to carry a bar of soap next to their Blackberries so they can wash their mouths out. I was surprised by their language. The worst culprit, McCain, has such a fondness for the f-word I skipped entire sentences. But even with their language issues the candidates and their spouses make for world-class people-watching. So go ahead. Indulge yourself and read the book. You are welcome to borrow my copy, but only on one condition: after you read it you have to come over to my house. We’ll make a big bowl of buttery popcorn and some killer hot chocolate and talk politics and personalities for hours. I’ll even light a fire and pray for rain. I can’t wait.
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  • D
    January 1, 1970
    a thrilling, terribly fun read---a gossipy, soapy treat for anyone who avidly followed the 2008 presidential campaign and is already familiar with the larger-than-life personalities here on display. many readers have complained that Game Change offers no policy discussion while gossip reigns supreme. well, they're right, but i think that's exactly what the authors set out to do, and i for one adored it. if you want a wonkish, in-depth review of each candidate's philosophical underpinnings and po a thrilling, terribly fun read---a gossipy, soapy treat for anyone who avidly followed the 2008 presidential campaign and is already familiar with the larger-than-life personalities here on display. many readers have complained that Game Change offers no policy discussion while gossip reigns supreme. well, they're right, but i think that's exactly what the authors set out to do, and i for one adored it. if you want a wonkish, in-depth review of each candidate's philosophical underpinnings and positions on varying policies, look elsewhere.instead, Game Change follows the obama, clinton, edwards, and mccain campaigns behind the scenes in a detailed play-by-play from each candidate's declaration of candidacy up 'til november 4. hundreds of deep-background interviews with aides, staff, friends, and the candidates themselves create a vivid, eminently readable account of the four teams and the culture and coverage of the campaigns that emerged in 2006, 2007, and 2008. frankly, i was shocked at the levels of dysfunction in every single campaign except the obamans': these other three candidates were alternately bullies, narcissists, or self-deluded, and both mccain and edwards were appallingly laissez-faire about almost every aspect of their campaigns, preferring to let their staff make both minute and substantive decisions, and riding the wave to the nomination on gut instinct or self-regard, respectively. *** BEGIN SUPER-LONG POINT-BY-POINT ***particularly shocking to me, though, was hillary clinton's inability to make a decision when the stakes were high. her waffling about myriad major and minor issues cost her dearly in her race against obama and frankly sunk her pretty considerably in my esteem. her capacity for self-deception surprised me---she appears to suffer a bizarrely codependent, mutually fawning relationship with bill, where evidence of his infidelities or the damage he was doing to her campaign were continuously excused or simply flat-out ignored. (NOW i understand how she and bill are together while tipper and al are shockingly split: hillary refuses to see what's in front of her, idolizes bill, and has decided that being with him and in pain is better than being without him and his shenanigans.) in the end, her toughness was paramount---the very quality that got her through the scathing criticism she suffered during her husband's years in the white house (not least of all the humiliation surrounding the lewinski scandal), a bitter, two-year race against obama for the nomination, and, surprisingly and beautifully, allowed her in the end to see the efficacy in accepting obama's offer for secretary of state. she's a fierce, flawed, brilliant woman with metric tons of baggage. i know a lot of us have been flirting with the dreamy notion of her running in 2016, but after having read about her 2008 campaign, i can't say i'm any longer on board and wouldn't mind seeing her go softly into the night after she steps down as secretary of state at the end of obama's first (we hope) term.as for john edwards, to a one the other candidates and their aides found him phony and shallow. i remember during the campaign having no strong feeling about him one way or the other but admiring his stance on poverty; but my husband from the get-go said, "this guy is completely fake; he's an absolute fraud," which i found fascinating but didn't sway me from my neutral stance. i don't know how my husband sensed it, but his instincts were right on, while i remained ambivalent and thousands of others, some including my deeply intelligent, thoughtful friends, were snowed and thought they saw something of bobby kennedy in him. i'm stunned at how selfish and deluded this guy was, holding out until the eleventh hour for a sweet cabinet appointment that never came, all the while his mistress and their newborn daughter were secreted away, just waiting to become a major scandal that would have absolutely shredded his party's chances at a general-election win. what a completely self-absorbed cad. the levels of his self-regard are almost pathological. the party, and politics in general, is vastly improved with edwards completely neutered.john mccain was a gruff, snapping, curmudgeonly bully who routinely grossly verbally abused his staff and wife and preferred to ad-lib rather than analyze in almost any situation, relying on his perceived ability to coax compromise in situ rather than plan ahead for it. he was the reason his campaign was dead on its feet from the beginning, refusing to raise cash for it, bankrupting it almost right away. he squandered his months-long lead over obama after clinching his party's nomination, doing nothing to pull ahead in the polls while he had an entire summer to plan and execute as obama battled hillary. mccain had, as the book put it, as long as any candidate in history has enjoyed to determine his running mate and yet managed to completely bungle that process, completely inadequately vetting sarah palin and rushing her selection over approximately four days' time. while philosophically mccain and bush 2 may be fairly divergent, in executive capacity they appear to be similarly handicapped. appalling. in the end, while i remain greatly relieved that sarah palin isn't our vice president, the book actually made me feel quite sorry for her. she was terribly used by the mccain campaign: their rush and hustle, their failure to plan and give her adequate prep time and space to settle into the ticket and its responsibilities, and ex post facto their throwing her under the bus when she then failed to deliver cut her off at the knees. boo, mccain. huge, huge boo. that said, i still completely fault palin for having accepted the position. that she was so woefully ignorant of the most basic history and policy and that she had such limited capacity to productively handle prolonged stress but even so serenely and instantly agreed to be mccain's running mate speaks of a level of self-delusion that is frankly horrifying for a person with so much responsibility. though i still cringe whenever i accidentally hear her pontificate on fox, i'm so, so grateful that she quit the governorship of alaska, and i remain hopeful that she will never, ever hold a political seat again. obama the candidate, obama the man, and his team's incredible organization and creativity came out best in this narration. his even temper; apparently healthy, functional, mutually devoted family; ability to make tough judgment calls; and propensity to carefully analyze data and determine a course of action all do much to explain why he won the race and make me continually gleeful about it. according to interviews, he only really lost it once during the entire campaign, when his running mate, biden, told the press that within six months of taking the oath of office obama would face a catastrophic decision. it appears that biden's gaffe froze tensions between the two for months until an aide convinced the to-be-veep that an apology would be appropriate. but as soon as the two conversed, they seemed able to completely drop any tension, work productively together, and increase their mutual regard. they behaved as adults, in other words. similarly, as soon as the white house was in his sights, obama was able to let his antipathy for hillary dissipate and his regard for her toughness and mental agility reemerge, and he didn't let their bitter recent history cloud his judgment when determining who would make an excellent secretary of state. to his immense credit, he convinced her to join his cabinet, and we all have seen what an excellent decision that was. and by all accounts, theirs remains a productive, rancor-free collaboration to this day. the mccain and clinton campaigns both routinely criticized the press for giving obama pass after pass and celebrating him where they ought to have been more critical. while the book made it clear that this was the pervasive view outside of obama's team, the book didn't really say WHERE this was the case, in which circumstances the press let an important story slide, failed to do due diligence. but perhaps that was the authors' point---that though the accusation was leveled, it didn't have much of a provable basis. or perhaps it was the authors' failure to analyze. i admit, as a fervent obama supporter, that this narration pretty readily aligned with my expectations regarding the candidate, so another, less-biased, reader might more easily ascertain the narrative's weaker points. i'll have to continue to consider this.i will say that i was struck by the almost uniformly bad behavior of the women whose stories were told---hillary clinton, sarah palin, elizabeth edwards, and, to a much lesser extent, cindy mccain. only michelle obama escaped harsh criticism, coming off as sharp and independently minded and pretty suspicious of the entire campaign game. clinton, palin, and edwards were each pilloried for being borderline mentally unhinged, self-pitying, and at times irrational. edwards was painted as a ball buster. palin's account did nothing to disprove that she wasn't much more than a pretty face. clinton was waffling and willingly ill-used by her husband. could it be that these women, to greater or lesser extents, enjoyed better images and popularity than they did actual virtue? or were the authors harsher with them than they were their male counterparts, holding the women to a different standard altogether? why at his worst moments was john mccain painted as vitriolic while elizabeth edwards was emasculating? palin unhinged but obama dispirited? the dichotomy struck me as i read, but i'd frankly need to do a tougher, closer reread while surveying some outside sources before i comfortably drew conclusions about the authors' unwitting (i assume) sexism, verging on misogyny. but let it be noted that the bad behavior of the women went to their mental health while that of the men was merely unseemly.so, students of campaign history, viewers of cable news, anyone who showed up at an ampitheater five hours in advance to see their preferred candidate, ignore your Tivoed Gossip Girls episodes and instead delve into this juicy, fast-paced gossip-fest about some of the biggest, baddest, most-enthralling political personalities extant.
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  • Eric_W
    January 1, 1970
    This book is in the tradition of Theodore White's great Making of a President series, which I devoured years ago as soon as they appeared, on the inside story of presidential campaigns. This one is just as good, high praise, indeed.Another great example of how we are failed by the media and need to learn details a coujple of years after the fact. Fascinating details such as how many Senators were urging Obama to run. The field looked weak. Edwards was considered shallow, Gofre was not interested This book is in the tradition of Theodore White's great Making of a President series, which I devoured years ago as soon as they appeared, on the inside story of presidential campaigns. This one is just as good, high praise, indeed.Another great example of how we are failed by the media and need to learn details a coujple of years after the fact. Fascinating details such as how many Senators were urging Obama to run. The field looked weak. Edwards was considered shallow, Gofre was not interested, no one else particularly strong around except Hillary and they were terrified because if she had gotten the nomination, all the increasingly common rumors of Bill's continued infidelities would surface. Not to mention her vote on the war. It was also clear that her campaign staff, while very loyal, was not as good as one would have liked.Clearly, the Clinton campaign presumed to believe the nomination was theirs, and Hillary had even put together a transition staff already in October of 2007. The only thing, she believed standing in their way was Iowa, and they didn't expect to lose that state. Axelrod believed correctly that Mark Penn, Clinton's campaign manager, was locked into a strategy borrowed from the 1990 succesful campaign and wqould be unable to change even though times had changed drstically. Iowa was a game changer: Obama slaughterd the opposition and Huckabee came out of nowhere to beat the other front-runners. Clinton had spent more than $23 million on Iowa, more than $500,00 per vote obtained. It was also becoming abundantly clear that two major factors were preventing Hillary from doing better: her dysfunctional campaign that she seemed unable to organize or control; and Bill, an out-of-control ex-president who could not bear the idea of being out of the limelight. Hillary had difficulty dealing with personnel issues and was reluctant to deal with problems directly (one wonders how that might have translated to her administration had she won.) In fact, when a staffer asked her to deal with Bill and control him, she wanted to delegate that to someone else, arguing she couldn't do it. All of the candidates assiduously courted the Kennedy endorsement. They had long ties to the Clintons, but Edward Kennedy and his family were charmed by the similarities Obama had to their fallen icon JFK: the hope, the charisma, the intelligence, and wonderful speech-making. Bill Clinton, on one of his trips to the Kennedy compound to gain support, nailed his own -- and his wife's -- chances for success, by remarking during a discussion with Teddy refering to Obama's age, and perhaps totally losing any subconscious symbolism, that "just a few years ago, that boy would have been serving us the coffee." That remark totally offended Edward Kennedy.Meanwhile, the McCain campaign was suffering from a candidate who wasn't that popular with the Repoublican base and who knew it. "Why would I want to be the leader of a party of such assholes," he said. His stance on amnesty for undocumented workers was anathema to the right, and he had difficulty mustering any kind of enthusiam for a protracted campaign especially after what the Bush folks had done to him in South Carolina in 2000. At one point during a debate prep session, McCain was asked to explain the difference between same-sex marriage and civil unions. Tired of everything, he shouted, "I don't give a fuck." The choice of Palin was a last ditch, unplanned, and very unprepared for attempt at revival. He worked to some extent, energizing the base. But it also lost support for McCain from moderate Republicans, many of them long-time supporters of McCain, who saw the move as a slap in the face. They viewed her as clearly unprepared to be president, and, as one large campaign donor and long-time supporter of McCain explained his switch to Obama simply by saying: "Palin."
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    I never imagined I'd read this book much less give it five stars. My contempt for sniveling co-author Mark Halperin could not be exaggerated and I wasn't sure I could stomach the treatment he would give the 2008 election. Plus, I knew this story. I had watched it unfold in realtime with an attention that bordered on obsessive-compulsive. However, from the first several pages, I confess I was spellbound.Game Change is the almost lyrical, detailed account of the 2008 primaries and general election I never imagined I'd read this book much less give it five stars. My contempt for sniveling co-author Mark Halperin could not be exaggerated and I wasn't sure I could stomach the treatment he would give the 2008 election. Plus, I knew this story. I had watched it unfold in realtime with an attention that bordered on obsessive-compulsive. However, from the first several pages, I confess I was spellbound.Game Change is the almost lyrical, detailed account of the 2008 primaries and general election. The story is told in the format of a novel and boasts a dramatis personae worthy of any Shakespearian play. Supplemented by exhaustively researched details and an intensity of perspective impossible in our ADHD media cycle, Game Change is the story of the 2008 election that we all witnessed, but is somehow much more.Authors Halperin and Heilemann take the reader right into the private conversations candidates had with their aides and advisors prior to every decision and after every debacle. In one scene, they take us right into the bathroom where the Republican nominees stand elbow to elbow at a row of urinals, laughing and joking minutes before a debate. Much time is given to the stories we know: the Reverend Wright debacle, the Edwards affair with Rielle Hunter, the growing animus between the Clintons and Obama, the McCain camp's frenzied damage-control over Sarah Palin. However, the depth of private detail and development of the characters rendered by the authors made the story seem fresh and at times shocking. The financial collapse of September 2008 serves as a dramatic climax in which all players true colors are shown and the point of no return is irrevocably passed. These are politicians we came to know through the stage-managing of their handlers as well as their conduct in the public eye; seen through the lens of Halperin and Heilemann they seem like regular people though with extraordinary gifts and extraordinary vices. No person emerges unscathed, though some come out far worse than others. (Both Edwards come out as mentally-unbalanced sociopaths.) Plus, everyone cusses a lot more than you would imagine and that makes it pretty funny too. The book concludes beautifully, not with Obama's historic inauguration, but with a private interaction between Hillary and Obama as he presses her to take the Secretary of State job. What is revealed about these complex individuals in that moment goes a long way in recasting the narrative that had been built around them in an entirely new light.Man, this was an awesome book.
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  • Ernie.tedeschi
    January 1, 1970
    Reads like one long gossip column, which is about how entertaining (and deep) it is. Halperin and Heilemann don't stick their necks out and do any sort of below-the-surface analysis of, say, why Obama caught fire, why Clinton was so divisive with the right, etc. It's simply assumed that we know and accept all of these facts. It even skips Election Day! Game Change then is purely about the horse race aspects of 2008, and its thrust is driven almost entirely by common wisdom. Despite several notab Reads like one long gossip column, which is about how entertaining (and deep) it is. Halperin and Heilemann don't stick their necks out and do any sort of below-the-surface analysis of, say, why Obama caught fire, why Clinton was so divisive with the right, etc. It's simply assumed that we know and accept all of these facts. It even skips Election Day! Game Change then is purely about the horse race aspects of 2008, and its thrust is driven almost entirely by common wisdom. Despite several notable nuggets of original reporting, it's more a recap than a fill-in-the-blank. Of the characters involved, John Edwards by far comes out the worst, while Hillary Clinton's is the richest, most complex and ultimately sympathetic portrait. The lack of background sources from the Obama campaign is glaring: the depiction of Obama is incomplete and unsatisfying, and as a result Obama comes across as cold for most of the book. The authors maintain a reasonably balanced perspective on everyone--including John McCain and Sarah Palin, whom the authors do a decent job humanizing--until the financial crisis hits in Chapter 21, which is turning point of both the actual campaign and the book itself. At this point, the authors take their thumbs off the scale and serve up a brutal contrast of the approaches Obama and McCain took to the financial crisis.A fun and quick read.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I really hated every minute of reading this book. Sure, there were moments of amusement with an anecdote here or direct quote there. But it felt like reading a trashy crime novel with names of real people substituted in for "Rex the private dick" and "Lolly the scheming sex kitten". The most widespread criticism of "Game Change" has been that its authors made most of it up, and this feeling rings true throughout reading the book. There are places where they add in character-editorial, inner Wow. I really hated every minute of reading this book. Sure, there were moments of amusement with an anecdote here or direct quote there. But it felt like reading a trashy crime novel with names of real people substituted in for "Rex the private dick" and "Lolly the scheming sex kitten". The most widespread criticism of "Game Change" has been that its authors made most of it up, and this feeling rings true throughout reading the book. There are places where they add in character-editorial, inner thoughts and feelings, where there is simply no way they could know those things. And that goes to the reason why everyone involved (with the exception of the contagiously crazy John Edwards) hasn't flipped out over "Game Change" - there's just no reason to dignify drivel like this with a response. One trend in the book which I found particularly specious was the repeated meme of the Clintons railing privately (and not privately) about how unfairly the media was treating them while fawning over the Obama campaign. That struck me as a little gross for two reasons: 1. It was true and so obvious that SNL felt compelled to make fun of it during the election season. 2. I'm not really okay with two journalists slamming the Clintons for complaining about journalists treating them unfairly. Last word, anyone?I finished this book and felt compelled to take a shower. Yuck.
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  • Mark Ferguson
    January 1, 1970
    This book is without qualification the best book about politics I've ever read. Every single page is juicy and fascinating. There are so many hilarious and illuminating tidbits about Obama, Clinton, Palin, McCain, Edwards, and all the other major players in the 2008 presidential election that I won't even bother to cite examples - if you are interested AT ALL, just read this book now. Reading back over that paragraph I realize that it sounds a little over the top. Seriously, though...such a good This book is without qualification the best book about politics I've ever read. Every single page is juicy and fascinating. There are so many hilarious and illuminating tidbits about Obama, Clinton, Palin, McCain, Edwards, and all the other major players in the 2008 presidential election that I won't even bother to cite examples - if you are interested AT ALL, just read this book now. Reading back over that paragraph I realize that it sounds a little over the top. Seriously, though...such a good read and so addictive that I want to read ten more books just like this one as soon as possible. The one thing I was surprised by was that after a backstage look at all of these people, Obama and Michelle come off as the most normal and likable by far (though it did make me feel for Hillary, especially considering how crazy Bill Clinton can be at times).I listened to the downloadable audiobook and narrator Dennis Boutsikaris is great. He manages to add touches of phrasing and just very slight accents that conjure up the feel of the various politicians who are quoted throughout the book. He doesn't do impressions AT ALL, just really subtle vocal shifts that work really well.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    The inner workings of the 2008 presidential campaigns made for some pretty fascinating and down right scary reading. First of all there is the huge ego of each candidate. Then the money. Huge sums of money are involved. There's got to be a better way. And to learn that Palin was not vetted properly or merely superficially was down right reckless for the country. The campaign became entertainment. But here we are in midst of another election and it seems just as bad. I can already see another boo The inner workings of the 2008 presidential campaigns made for some pretty fascinating and down right scary reading. First of all there is the huge ego of each candidate. Then the money. Huge sums of money are involved. There's got to be a better way. And to learn that Palin was not vetted properly or merely superficially was down right reckless for the country. The campaign became entertainment. But here we are in midst of another election and it seems just as bad. I can already see another book coming out. You thought 2008 was bad. Well this book confirms it and it's worse I'd venture than you thought.
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  • Ceilidh
    January 1, 1970
    The political wonk's version of US Weekly. Full of apparentlys, allegedlys and not a source in sight. It's extremely readable (how could multiple train-wrecks not be?) but I still have issues with the way the women are dealt with in the book. When Hillary Clinton talks, she is described as "whining" or "bitching" or "screeching", words never used for Obama or the men. While Obama wipes away a tear, Hillary cries. The message remains clear. For a chunky book, it's a surprisingly quick read, and a The political wonk's version of US Weekly. Full of apparentlys, allegedlys and not a source in sight. It's extremely readable (how could multiple train-wrecks not be?) but I still have issues with the way the women are dealt with in the book. When Hillary Clinton talks, she is described as "whining" or "bitching" or "screeching", words never used for Obama or the men. While Obama wipes away a tear, Hillary cries. The message remains clear. For a chunky book, it's a surprisingly quick read, and a good starting point for anyone interested in the 2008 election, a historic one in politics.
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  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book for the "behind-the-scenes" insights it offered into the campaigns. It depicts the candidates as they really are, rather than as the candidates would have us view them. I felt like a high-level staffer for Hillary, the Barack, then Edwards, and finally McCain. I found myself feeling almost sorry for Hillary at times, because Obama was the darling of the press and seemed to be immune from criticism. Nothing she could do or say (even if her points were valid) would have an impa I enjoyed this book for the "behind-the-scenes" insights it offered into the campaigns. It depicts the candidates as they really are, rather than as the candidates would have us view them. I felt like a high-level staffer for Hillary, the Barack, then Edwards, and finally McCain. I found myself feeling almost sorry for Hillary at times, because Obama was the darling of the press and seemed to be immune from criticism. Nothing she could do or say (even if her points were valid) would have an impact on his popularity.
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  • Kathrina
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn't stop reading until I found out who won.
  • Coldsoup753
    January 1, 1970
    My father got me this book; he was really enjoying it and wanted to know what I thought. After reading it I see that he didn't really want someone to talk with, he wanted someone to gossip with. Now it's true, once I started it I couldn't put it down. That's because it's like The West Wing, but real life. Well, and in a book. The rubber-necker in me really wanted to know how Hillary took to Obama's absurdly quick rise to national prominence and, most of all, exactly what thought process lead to My father got me this book; he was really enjoying it and wanted to know what I thought. After reading it I see that he didn't really want someone to talk with, he wanted someone to gossip with. Now it's true, once I started it I couldn't put it down. That's because it's like The West Wing, but real life. Well, and in a book. The rubber-necker in me really wanted to know how Hillary took to Obama's absurdly quick rise to national prominence and, most of all, exactly what thought process lead to Sarah Palin as the VP nominee. And, as well as it can, this book delivers. Most of the quote are unattributed and the sources are unnamed, but he fact that this book has gotten as much publicity as it has without anyone raising their hackles at it leads me to believe that the reporting is right on. And what reporting it must have taken to piece together all the information it took to make this book. The authors conducted over 200 interviews.The news cycle being what it is, all of the events in this book seem like they are in the distant past. While reading it, I was constantly being struck by just how amazing the last presidential race was. The knock down drag out Democratic nomination. McCain's amazing comeback. The release of Sarah Palin . The economic meltdown. Let alone the fact that however you cut it, this was a race of epically historic proportions. I was constantly amazed that I lived through this.In the end nobody comes out of this looking good. The entitlement assumed by the Clintons is staggering. Hillary was putting together a transition team, in charge of moving her and her staff into the White House, before she had even secured the nomination. McCain's selection of Palin is almost painful to read about. She was selected to be a media 'wow' moment, and her debut at the RNC was all that and more, but when it became clear that she was not ready for a national campaign and had no idea what she was getting into when she said yes she was abandoned by the main campaign. And then there is the crazy story of the downfall of John Edwards. whew.Although it comes in at just over 430 pages this book felt like a surface level read. It spends most of its time on the Democratic nomination fight. The pages dedicated to the Republican nomination seem cursory at best. I was left wanting so much more. It just scrapes the surface of almost every topic it touches. There should be dissertations written about Obama's fundraising machine and McCain's campaign belly-flop. There probably will be and I look forward to reading those too.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    If Hollywood Central Casting were asked to put together a group of actors with the most monstrous egos on the face of the planet, they could not have done a better job than the two national parties did in the last election. So forget about everything you know about McCain and Palin, Clinton and Obama, Edwards and Giuliani. The truth is actually worse. Far worse. Game Change goes ahead and deliciously details all the backbiting, sex, lies, and self-destructions of the most dissected presidential If Hollywood Central Casting were asked to put together a group of actors with the most monstrous egos on the face of the planet, they could not have done a better job than the two national parties did in the last election. So forget about everything you know about McCain and Palin, Clinton and Obama, Edwards and Giuliani. The truth is actually worse. Far worse. Game Change goes ahead and deliciously details all the backbiting, sex, lies, and self-destructions of the most dissected presidential campaign in history. It’s jaw dropping, gripping, and guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night. Here are just a few of the revelations:SARAH PALIN was the most colossally unprepared candidate ever to grace the national arena. “She couldn’t explain why North and South Korea were separate nations. She didn’t know what the Fed did. Asked who attacked America on 9/11, she suggested several times it was Saddam Hussein.” And her mental state was so precarious that at one point, John McCain actually had his doctor observe her.JOHN EDWARDS was such a blowhard egotist that he angled for a position as VP or Attorney General, all the while knowing that Rielle Hunter was eight months pregnant and the story could break at any time.JOHN MCCAIN was so disengaged and shoot-from-the-hip in style that GEORGE BUSH wondered about his ability to lead the nation. He vetted Palin for the second most important job in the nation in under 72 hours and barely knew her. Oh, and when he wanted to relax? He’d watch the infamous YouTube posting of John Edwards preening to the sounds of I Feel Pretty.HILLARY CLINTON was barely able to control her husband and his intemperate telephonic and in-person outbursts. Oh, and that speech she delivered at the convention anointing Obama? Bill rewrote it behind her back just hours before she was supposed to deliver it.The authors, Heilemann and Halperin reveal it all in this spicy smorgasbord: the friction between Obama and his garrulous vice presidential pick…Obama’s own tendency toward conceit and coldness…Hillary’s initial rejection of Obama’s Secretary of State offer…the perilous state of the marriage of John and Elizabeth Edwards. It’s so compulsively readable that I finished 400 pages in just two days. This is truly “must read” for anyone interested in politics.
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  • thewanderingjew
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to Game Change on an audio version of the book. Much more than half the book, perhaps even as much as 75%, is devoted to the Democrat race with Obama as the main character followed by Clinton and Edwards. It covers the plans, concerns, secret meetings and deals leading up to the candidate's run and eventual selection. There are no notes with the book so there is no back up proof provided about any of the comments. It could be hearsay and lots of gossip but it is what I expected it to I listened to Game Change on an audio version of the book. Much more than half the book, perhaps even as much as 75%, is devoted to the Democrat race with Obama as the main character followed by Clinton and Edwards. It covers the plans, concerns, secret meetings and deals leading up to the candidate's run and eventual selection. There are no notes with the book so there is no back up proof provided about any of the comments. It could be hearsay and lots of gossip but it is what I expected it to be about, so I wasn't that disappointed. The dynamics of the couples and their advisors is interesting as well as the family and interpersonal relationships. The book does point out the grueling nature of the campaign which seemed to go on forever. The book is pretty negative about the Republicans as well as most of the Democrats excluding the Obamas. In the descriptions, the Obamas are not described as negatively as the others. The choice of words is softer. Obama's eyes fill up. Hillary cries. One presents a picture that is sympathetic, one presents a weak image. The couple's relationships as well are atrocious, except again for the Obamas. Their issues are glossed over. Dysfunctional marriages, however, seemed to be the order of the day. Maybe it is the nature of politics and power.The consensus of the reviews I read, like me, pretty much say that the Obamas come out the best in the book and, in fact, I thought they were treated more positively than any of the others but since he is the sitting President, I would expect that, out of respect for him and his family. Also, on the surface, from all the information presented, they do seem to have a loving marital and family relationship complete with mutual respect.It is an entertaining book or perhaps expose, but it does dwell on personalities and relationships more than anything else. It is what it is, a tell all book. If you are looking for substantive facts, this is not the book for you. Most of us know the information included but the personalities and little remarks surrounding the exposure of the troubled candidates seemed new.
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  • Wayne Edmondson
    January 1, 1970
    1) As much as it pains me to say it, Obama was probably the best choice available in 2008. But it was a triumph by default. Hillary's narrative of The Establishment's inevitable choice was irreparably crippled by her chronic indecision, her inability to muzzle her husband, and internecine squabbling amongst her staff. And McCain's campaign was an unending comedy of errors: as demonstrated by his impatience with any problem that needed more than a quick fix,his inattention to detail (or apparent 1) As much as it pains me to say it, Obama was probably the best choice available in 2008. But it was a triumph by default. Hillary's narrative of The Establishment's inevitable choice was irreparably crippled by her chronic indecision, her inability to muzzle her husband, and internecine squabbling amongst her staff. And McCain's campaign was an unending comedy of errors: as demonstrated by his impatience with any problem that needed more than a quick fix,his inattention to detail (or apparent apathy) on any issue outside of national defense, and an absolutely terrible job in vetting Palin. A lackadaisical candidacy would not bode well for a successful presidency. 2) This book will pretty much kill Sarah Palin's future in politics on the national stage. I posit that's a good thing for the nation and for her own mental health. Her naivete and ignorance of history and policy is startling; the crumbling of her psyche as the campaign drags along is tragic. One of the small triumphs of the McCain campaign was their ability to steward her through her nervous breakdown and avoid a "Muskie moment." I have no doubt that she'd be a lot of fun to converse with at a fish fry or crawfish boil, but I don't want her within 100 miles of the White House. 3) If I put politics on the back burner, I think I would enjoy a cup of coffee or dinner with every 2008 candidate... except for John Edwards. That man is a lying, sanctimonious, delusional, and hypocritical scumbag.
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  • Lightreads
    January 1, 1970
    Unapologetically gossipy play-by-play of the 2008 primaries and general. Written so engagingly that it made me anxious at a few points, even though, hi, it’s not like I don’t know the spoilers. But this is entirely a trees book and not at all a forest book, despite the title and marketing. This is all day-by-day campaign strategy and not at all chronicle of the monetary/demographic/electronic/organizational revolutions that arguably occurred and are still occurring. Surprising, because when you Unapologetically gossipy play-by-play of the 2008 primaries and general. Written so engagingly that it made me anxious at a few points, even though, hi, it’s not like I don’t know the spoilers. But this is entirely a trees book and not at all a forest book, despite the title and marketing. This is all day-by-day campaign strategy and not at all chronicle of the monetary/demographic/electronic/organizational revolutions that arguably occurred and are still occurring. Surprising, because when you talk to Halperin face-to-face, he’s all forest and no trees, in a really good way.*But whatever, maybe it was too soon, maybe everyone was still living in it too much to see out of it when they conducted their interviews. And their access really is unparalleled. And if what you want is a heaping scoop of relatively reliable personality dissection with campaign strategy as a side dish, you honestly can’t do better than this. It’s just, you know, more about how the Clintons sabotage/make/unmake/worship each other, and less about the seachange that 2008 actually was.*Though Halperin did insist in my hearing once that Romney is honestly a great guy one-on-one, not at all awkward or uncomfortable or bizarre the way he is on camera. Oookay. It’d probably take an entire new book to convince me of that.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Although I'd already read most of the good dirt from this book in the news, it was worth reading as a portrayal of how modern campaigns run--not that the portrayal is an inspiring one. The authors give the impression that Obama was almost guaranteed to win given the total disarray of the competing campaigns, which is interesting chiefly because it sure didn't feel that way at the time. (Even on election night, I was almost begging a friend not to prematurely uncork his champagne.) The account fo Although I'd already read most of the good dirt from this book in the news, it was worth reading as a portrayal of how modern campaigns run--not that the portrayal is an inspiring one. The authors give the impression that Obama was almost guaranteed to win given the total disarray of the competing campaigns, which is interesting chiefly because it sure didn't feel that way at the time. (Even on election night, I was almost begging a friend not to prematurely uncork his champagne.) The account focuses on the Democratic primary, but Sarah Palin makes a memorable appearance towards the end, alternately horrifying you with her ignorance and cutting a pitiful figure as stress pushes her almost into catatonia. Parts of the book certainly felt more like gossip than political analysis, but that's the authors' slant: how larger-than-life personalities came together in a campaign full of reversals of fortune that led to an unlikely and historic outcome.
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  • Alexw
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating insider account of the Presidential Election. Clinton's fury that the media didn't focus on Obomas use of cocaine, Hilarious account of Bill Clinton trying to get Ted Kennedy to endorse Hillary and saying, "you know 10 years ago he(Oboma) would have been waiting on our table."The language used by all candidates is more suited to sailors on leave.
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  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    I'm reading a lot of presidential history this summer and never got around to Game Change when it first arrived. In addition, I watched a few minutes of the HBO movie and had the idea that most of this would be concerned with the rise of the unspeakable Sarah Palin.So the book was a pleasant surprise. The authors take the reader through the 2007-2008 primary season and election. Most of the book is devoted to the rising enmity between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although there were some sw I'm reading a lot of presidential history this summer and never got around to Game Change when it first arrived. In addition, I watched a few minutes of the HBO movie and had the idea that most of this would be concerned with the rise of the unspeakable Sarah Palin.So the book was a pleasant surprise. The authors take the reader through the 2007-2008 primary season and election. Most of the book is devoted to the rising enmity between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although there were some swipes at John Edwards. Remember him? Talk about falling back into the darkness from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung! While it was no surprise to read that the former North Carolina senator had no depth or real principles --- geeze Louise, he was bargaining for the Attorney General slot in either a Clinton or Obama administration in exchange for pulling out of the race --- it was disconcerting to see the portrait painted of Elizabeth Edwards. Instead of the saintly wife dealing with cancer betrayed by her man, we get a shrew.That's kind of the appeal of the book. You have to accept that the authors are retailing real insider insights, gleaned from interviews with the people involved. I find it hard to believe that Hillary, Bill, Barack, Michelle, Sarah or John would have divulged what they were thinking at any given moment, so I assume that a lot of their staffers/friends took advantage of anonymity to cut loose. And therein lies the rub, I suppose. You have to decide pretty quickly if you believe what you are reading. Um . . . kind of? The things that threw me were not John McCain's habitual use of profanity (although there is an image of him screaming F+#@ you! at his wife over and over again while giving her the finger that just, I don't know . . . really?) but Hillary's f-bombs also fly when Clinton loses anything, or feels that her campaign isn't working. Which it turns out it wasn't, pretty much for the same reason that Obama's faltered occasionally. The two of them were surrounded by a tight knot of loyalists who may have been too small for inventive ideas. Obama curses lightly, but then he won.The real difference is that Obama eventually rose above his immediate circle and took charge. Hillary never did, and even worse, may have abdicated in the face of Bill's whoop-de-do intervention. His off-the-cuff remarks may have cost Clinton a significant portion of the black vote she was entitled to expect ("entitled" barely begins to describe how the authors paint Hillary and Bill Clinton). If nothing else, she took that lesson away for this election cycle. Bill has barely been seen, and is certainly not allowed to go off the reservation a la 2008. The portrait of Obama is fascinating, and now that we are approaching the end of his Presidency, eerie. He really is that cerebral, that unflappable, that devoted to Michelle and the girls. I hasten to add that Hillary is to Chelsea as well --- the one time she comes really unglued is when an MSNBC reporter accuses the campaign of "pimping" the First Daughter out at rallies. But Obama turns out to be . . . Obama.And McCain. McCain, who seems to have run for President because it was the only thing to do. There were no other serious Republican contenders (Giuliani? Please.) and so . . . time to saddle up and head into certain doom, given the albatross that Bush 43 represented. However, he did come up with the brilliant idea of Sarah Palin to add sizzle to the ticket. What I especially liked about Game Change was the fact that she only emerges in the last quarter of the book, and while they don't savage the woman, they do let the facts speak for themselves. It turns out that she was just as bad as she (mostly) presented herself to be. No idea of American foreign policy, no real economic understanding --- neither had McCain, a fatal flaw for someone running in the annus horibilils of 2008 --- no real understanding of anything, and once that leaked out, Palin was shredded by what she probably calls the "lame stream media". But honest to God, the idea that Palin was one heartbeat away should make Americans take a closer look at Pence and Kaine, because Donald and Hillary ain't gettin' any younger.The writing is breathless throughout, sounding as though it was dictated. But again, if you decide to accept the authors' word that everything people say in the book is accurate, Game Change is a pretty irresistible read.
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  • Jack
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: events and people are discussed here according to the way I thought the book portrayed them. If you consider those characterizations inaccurate or unfair, or if the interpretations conveyed in this review contradict your own political views, take it up with Misters Heilmann and Halperin, and perhaps with the mainstream media as a whole. If you think my characterizations of the authors' characterizations are unfair, well I suppose that is on me. The anecdotes and gossip make this wort Disclaimer: events and people are discussed here according to the way I thought the book portrayed them. If you consider those characterizations inaccurate or unfair, or if the interpretations conveyed in this review contradict your own political views, take it up with Misters Heilmann and Halperin, and perhaps with the mainstream media as a whole. If you think my characterizations of the authors' characterizations are unfair, well I suppose that is on me. The anecdotes and gossip make this worth reading, as does the perspective that comes from reading the events of 2008 in one monograph, as opposed to living those events over the course of two torturous years. That said, the essential narrative of the primary campaigns and general election, and the basic characterizations of the people involved, are basically the same media narrative that gelled as we all lived through it. Hillary is a good person whose campaign was ridden by internal conflicts, and who had trouble connecting with people even as she really wanted to be elected to serve them. Obama's campaign was far more disciplined, but he had trouble finding a way to land the blow that would finally finish Hillary off. McCain's campaign fumbled as it wandered from one tactic to another in an effort to overcome the odds in an unfavorable year, one of those tactics being the selection of a VP who wasn't sufficiently vetted before her selection and wasn't sufficiently prepared for her campaign duties after it. And the biggest deciding factor of the election was the financial collapse, which Obama was able to speak to more effectively than McCain. There are a few surprises, though they don't really change the story. Obama comes across as more openly cocky than I'd expected - these people all have very high opinions of themselves, but I didn't realize he was so open about it. McCain never spoke out against Palin. And John Edwards was even more of a jerk than you thought. But the book is really about the Obama-Clinton (Bill and Hillary) rivalry, a topic that consumes at least two thirds of the book; the far less dramatic republican primary campaign gets nary a mention. The focus on the Democratic primary fight works well, since it's also the best done part of the book. Both Obama and Clinton came out looking pretty good. Both Obama and Hillary seem like honorably intentioned people who found themselves in bitter opposition, in a field that can get pretty dirty. Bill, who is as much a character in the book as anyone, takes actions a little harder to condone, but, as with the other people involved, you empathize with where he's coming from, even if you don't share his position. The same goes for McCain. Palin is not in the book much, but what there is is highly unflattering. Obama definitely comes off looking the best. The entire book is basically the story of the right person for the job winning. Even the cynical have to admire the account of his efforts to reach a productive, bipartisan agreement at the White House summit McCain initiated during the campaign suspension, as well as his earnest concern with staying up to speed on the Lehman brothers negotiations out of a sense of responsibility. In the end, Hillary needed to get hurt so that he could win, but then they learned to re-approach one another slowly.
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  • Frank Stein
    January 1, 1970
    Upon reading this book, I was surprised to see how much of the 2008 campaign remains in the public memory. Obama's "clinging to their guns and religion" talk, Clinton's supposed "cry" before the New Hampshire primaries, of course Sarah Palin's interviews with Katie Couric. In so far as this book goes over these already tired moments, it becomes tedious, but there's enough behind-the-scenes drama to keep it very lively on the whole.One revelation is that Hilary Clinton hated Iowa. Just hated the Upon reading this book, I was surprised to see how much of the 2008 campaign remains in the public memory. Obama's "clinging to their guns and religion" talk, Clinton's supposed "cry" before the New Hampshire primaries, of course Sarah Palin's interviews with Katie Couric. In so far as this book goes over these already tired moments, it becomes tedious, but there's enough behind-the-scenes drama to keep it very lively on the whole.One revelation is that Hilary Clinton hated Iowa. Just hated the motels, the talks, even the people, who she felt wanted her to grovel to them. She understood, however, that despite her overwhelming majority in the national polls, her whole election could be derailed by an Obama upset there. She even thought of not competing in Iowa so that any bad news wouldn't be counted against her, until a memo leaked discussing the idea after which she had to stay in. Still, Hilary remained so confident late into 2007 that she asked Wall Streeter Roger Altman to begin planning her presidential transition, and already started canvassing vice presidential candidates. She would regret the hubris. Obama's team of David Axelrod and David Plouffe, "the Davids," however, understood the full importance of Iowa and worked it to death. Although Obama at first seemed like the underdog, there were numerous hints that his support was stronger than many let on. Harry Reid called Obama in to his Senate Majority Leader office to say that Obama obviously didn't enjoy, and wasn't particularly good at, being a Senator, so he should run for President. Although Reid couldn't publicly support Obama, he helped organize other Senators like Chuck Schumer, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Barbara Boxer, and especially Ted Kennedy to support Obama sub rosa, at least until the moment was ripe.The most surprising aspect of the final Obama and McCain battle was just the differing levels of organization of their campaigns. Obama polled and focus grouped every message and strategy, and even made negative ads about himself and focus grouped THOSE. For the debates they made full stage mock-ups with exact replicas of the chairs and stage. McCain's campaign under Stuart Schmidt didn't even focus group their own ads, and seemed to come up with slogans, "Country First," "No Surrender Tour," out of thin air and vague sentiments. Their pick of Sarah Palin, after they decided Joe Lieberman angered too many Republicans and Tim Pawlenty was too boring, just days before the Republican convention, was only illustrative their general lack of preparation, which McCain himself, who disliked being tied down, often encouraged.There's of course plenty of public and private squabbles in here to make for a quick and intriguing read, along with moments of real substance and debate (although Joe Biden remained horrified at the flimsiness of Obama's policy positions). Behind the more memorable moments, there is a real story here of character and competition at the highest level, with obvious consequences for the nation.
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