BOOK REVIEW – “Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

The old saying is that history is written by the victors. It is certainly true with political campaigns. Whatever a winning campaign did looks good, while everything a losing campaign is regarded as futile or counter-productive.  The authors of “Game Change” have given a whole range of people intimately involved with the 2008 Presidential campaign the opportunity to prove out that proverb once again, and in doing so, have produced a juicy, gossipy tell-all that is entertaining, but ultimately, not very substantial.  The winning Obama campaign looks very good, while each losing campaign has all sorts of blame to go around.

The book is divided into three parts covering the Democratic primary, the Republican primary and the general election.  However, the overarching storyline is the friendship, rivalry and eventual reconciliation between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Clinton was very impressed with Obama in 2004 after he won the Democratic Senate primary in Illinois.  She went to Illinois to help him raise funds for the general election.  Little did she know that she would be aiding the man that probably kept her from being the first female President.

Along the way to electing Obama though, lots of scandal and alleged scandal is revealed.  We are treated to the dynamics of the Clinton marriage, the insipid narcissism of John Edwards, the hot-headedness of John McCain, together with more evidence of his irresponsibility in selecting the all-style, no substance Sarah Palin as his running mate.

A few of the anecdotes in the book have been reported in the press, the Harry Reid comments, the portrayal of Elizabeth Edwards and the inability of Sarah Palin to remember Joe Biden’s last name being the most notable.  But, there are plenty of other revelations in here that will keep you turning the pages.

The authors do attempt to be a little too clever.  The nicknames they create for each campaign: Obamans, Hillaryland, Edwardsphere, McCainworld are used repeatedly and get annoying.

Do NOT read this book if you are looking for an analysis of the issues that made the campaign the most exciting of my lifetime.  However, if you are interested in marriage issues, in-fighting in campaigns, stumbles and bumbles, you will enjoy this book.  I must admit that I did.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


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