Up, Simba!
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Up, Simba!

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  621 ratings  ·  59 reviews
In February 2000, "Rolling Stone" magazine sent David Foster Wallace, "NOT A POLITICAL JOURNALIST, " on the road for a week with Senator John McCain's campaign to win the Republican nomination for the Presidency. They wanted to know why McCain appealed so much to so many Americans, and particularly why he appealed to the "Young Voters" of America who generally show nothing...more
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Published September 15th 2000 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 1st 2000)
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karen
im not really sure why this is being published now, when it was written for the ghost of election past, but im not going to complain because i love the dfw, and now i can rate it. greg will never catch me!!!
John Wiswell
In 2000, John McCain was beloved to both major parties in the U.S. and couldn't get the nomination from either. It was possible that if he ran against both candidates that he'd win, but of course that didn't happen. David Foster Wallace was embedded with McCain's campaign, doomed to lose out to George W. Bush, and shrewdly observed how McCain made messages out of himself, how the staff tried to manipulate those messages, and how the country refused to see the candidate as a complex human being....more
Jesse
Fantastic book-length meditation on McCain2000, originally a much shorter Rolling Stone piece. Part think-piece, part investigative journalism, it's just Wallace doing his humanist/pomo thing. Nonetheless, an interesting/necessary perspective on McCain as an extraordinarily intelligent and honorable man (a great reading on the meaning of McCain's time in the Hanoi Hilton) saying, ultimately, some very scary shit. Also, a lot of good stuff on the mechanics of contemporary campaigns, much of which...more
Cory
Finally got around to this DFW piece from 2000, where he guides the masse of Young Voters through how to think critically about where to place their vote and their cynicism -- via a behind-the-scenes look into a week on the McCain campaign trail.

Other reviews will tell you this -- this piece is less about McCain himself (though I've thankfully got a much more nuanced view of him now than I did before) than about the spinning, breathing, bizarre political gauntlet we go through every four years t...more
Ken Heard
Rolling Stone puts a reporter on the bus of what first is a marginal candidate for president who becomes the front runner and tells him to write what he sees. Sound familiar? The magazine did the same in 1971 when Hunter S. Thompson covered the George McGovern campaign, and Thompson did a far better, more insightful job.

That's not to say David Foster Wallace failed. He did okay with his observations of life on the road, with behind the looks at John McCain and other reporters, with the "Twelve M...more
Mikael Kuoppala
The year 2000. Presidential elections were approaching in the U.S, with party primaries in full swing. At the time, Rolling Stone Magazine ran a feature on all of the main players. Author David Foster Wallace was tasked with following Republican candidate John McCain on his tour across the country. That original piece has been expanded for this book, which is actually quite an interesting meditation on the democratic process itself.

McCain ran against George W. Bush and obviously lost. He was the...more
Billie Pritchett
McCain's Promise is a book adaptation of a long article by David Foster Wallace, first published in an abbreviated form in Rolling Stone, then in Wallace's essay collection Consider the Lobster. Wallace follows the 2000 campaign trail of John McCain and spends most of the pages of the book exploring the paradoxes of McCain and his campaign. For example, McCain marketed himself as a person who was not trying to sell citizens on a certain self-image--but that's precisely what marketing oneself is....more
Alex Johnson
I am not going to give you my summation (which will most likely be clumsy and fall short of the floor) of what underlying message D.F.W. conveyed in McCain's Promise (where is the italics option when it is needed (can we do something about this Goodreads please)) b/c it will only take away from what you'll get out of it if you read it yourself however if you read pages 123 & 124 starting with the only full paragraph on page 123 you will find that the why I did not want to give you my summati...more
Elizabeth
This book is still relevant because the main ideas DFW explores has to do with navigating between the real and the packaged and how our own cynicism plays into how we approach voting or not voting. Apparently the publishers realized this too because the book came out in April or May of 2008 (the foreword was written in April).

DFW's analysis of the packaging of McCain (who at the time - 2000 - was the rebel/maverick of his party, not that I agree with that assessment, especially when you look at...more
Zach
I love when DFW puts on his journalism hat for a romp through the absurd. Only he can write a piece like Big Red Son (which I read on a drive under Arizona's Big Red Sun - HIYO) about the adult movie industry and make it high brow and insightful as a book review of Fowler's Modern English Usage Dictionary. Anyway, like he does in Big Red, this is a fun quick essay on McCain's 2000 campaign, but in searching for "what's real" behind this new phenomenon "McCain," he inevitably deconstructs the abs...more
Ira
DFW's book on McCain's failed 2000 primary run vs. GWB was originally commissioned and published by Rolling Stone, though in a shorter form, and seems to be written for the Rolling Stone readership. The book is partly a 21st century mini-update on Tim Crouse's The Boys On The Bus and partly an essay on whether McCain, the candidate, was straight talk (like the bus he rode on) or bullshit (like the bus many of the press followed him on). Wallace, in his own way, writes of the daily routine of the...more
Ross
I read this book, originally a long essay, for the late author, not the candidate. Still, this snap-shot from the 2000 campaign (specifically, from just after the post-New Hampshire afterglow through the first week or so of the brutally negative S.C. primary) makes one realize in a visceral, internalized way, as opposed to the obvious intellectual yes of course way, that McCain would have been a much better president than G.W. Bush. That our entire country would today be better off, and that tho...more
Kevin
Though initially presented, when published first by Rolling Stone, as an update on the McCain campaign from a source outside the self-feeding loop of political reportage (given that Wallace was neither a looming political advocate nor a journalist in any traditional sense) what's amazing is how well the themes of this essay fit together with those of Wallace's fiction, specifically on how ironic detachment makes sincere statement, political or personal, suspect if not impossible. Similar in tone...more
Jim Lane
This guy was amazing. If his old grocery lists get published, I will read them, and they will probably make me laugh and make me sad and generally bend my brain a little. He really has the ability to just say a basic, previously unspoken gut-level truth. Being lied to hurts. Politicians make us sad.
Amie
I selected this book because I wanted to read some of Mr. Wallace's work and this looked pretty short. Also, because, "really, he wrote a book about McCain?" [insert incredulous face here].

I really enjoyed this book. I realize it is dated as it covers the 2000 election and McCain is not running again. However, it isn't, in that much of what occurs during US elections is repeated over and over again. And I found myself thinking about Mr. Wallace's contention that those who don't turn in ballots...more
Gregory
It's somewhat silly that this is the only review that I've written so far, and that I'm writing a review for an examination of the 2000 Presidential election (and for a candidate who didn't win his primary even). BUT, much like Infinite Jest, "Up Simba" is prophetic and therefore timeless. Since this is David Foster Wallace, we are also treated to a mind-bogglingly detailed analysis of random yet related topics such as the difficulties of camera crews, life on the road as a member of the media,...more
Ali Prendergast
In 1999, Rolling Stone went in search of four writers who were not political journalists to do articles on the four big presidential candidates. David Foster Wallace thought that McCain was "either incredibly honest and forthright, or else just insane" and so agreed to do the article. His article was waaaaay too long and the uncut version was published in the form of this book. What I'm sure of, so far, is that I'd like to read DFW's real books because after reading 20 pages of this article-book...more
James Schneider
This is a really excellent longform piece of magazine reporting, written in DFW's usual essay voice - which is to say your narrator acts at 60 or so percent of his intellectual capacity to achieve a serious "aw shucks" sensibility around people he can then write about as craven, depraved, or insane. The events depicted here are certainly more "ecstatically true" in the Herzogian sense than factually true, but I personally have no problem with this, as DFW has never really taken himself to be a j...more
Eva
Enjoyed this more than I usually enjoy DFW's essays. It was quite accessible and a quick read. I hadn't really realized, though, that he doesn't actually ever interact with McCain while doing the research for this article; instead, he depends on others' assessments of McCain. It's still a really interesting meditation on politics, integrity, and American society, but it's as much about the author than it is about the supposed subject. I got the sense that DFW in many ways was envious of McCain's...more
Kitt Crescenzo
Reed just finished this. We saw it at the book store and thought "Wow David Foster Wallace, the David Foster Wallace, covering politics? This has to be something special." Reed says its the most cynical book he's ever read (and Reed's read all of Foster Wallace and all of my book Russian faves that i force on him so thats saying something). It follows the republican 2000 South Carolina primary, if that gives you any indication of the book's tone. I will let you know if it's worth it cynical, or...more
Derek
Everything that could be said about this book is covered by Weisberg [of Slate:] in the Foreward. I also agree with Weisberg's small criticism of the roadies/techs having a special savvy that could out-insight the others. It's a cliche--and surprisingly, DFW acknowledges all other cynical cliches except that one. It was very interesting to read this post-Nov08; a reminder of how McCain used to be regarded, and what an effective job both the Obama camp and Palin selection did to dismantle that vi...more
Bryce
DFW was asked to join the Straight Talk Express during the 2000 primaries. The way he talks about McCain sounds like he's talking about Obama, except that McCain failed to do what Obama has overwhelmingly accomplished. It puts the recent election into some very interesting perspective and helps to show where McCain went wrong. It's also a fascinating look into what it's like to be a journalist on the campaign trail. I both desperately want to and think it would be extraordinarily painful.
Doug
Seeing the 2000 McCain campaign, and presidential politics in general, through DFW's eye's was fascinating. He is able to put to words the feelings of unease, mistrust, alienation and/or apathy that many people feel toward politicians. DFW is a political outsider, but he cuts to the heart of politics faster than anyone I know. I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone with a political bone in their body, or anyone wondering why there isn't a political bone in their body.
Brendan
This is an amazing and fantastic chapter from "Consider the Lobster." And when I say chapter I mean "over 100 pages." It is the most complete portrait of both McCain2000 and the old maverick before he became a complete dick.

All of the dirty tricks that bush played on him are spelled out in this book, including the "push polling" that took place in NC. Its an amazing story and if McCain gets elected he will be the Willie Stark of our (parents') generation.
Adom Hartell
This was good. Obviously McCain isn't super relevant right now, but it was interesting to read DFW's take on politics and I always enjoy his writing and the extended, spirally logic of his arguments.
I never knew why McCain got the "maverick" moniker, so it was interesting to hear that he was viewed as really populist and down to earth and appealing to younger voters, especially as Obama beat him on the same grounds in 2008.
Josef Firmage
This was great. I learned alot about McCain and what a true hero he really is. However it also revealed how much he ran his campaign like Bush did against him when it came to battling Obama. It's sad that he changed and sold his values out the window-as far as campaigning goes. While he was once the new voice he became an echo of what once worked-Bush (bc Bush beat him). This book helped me vote for Barack (among other things).
Augie
if you like self conscience reportage in the style of your favorite twenty one year old rolling stone writer- go for it. there's enough here to make you forget that the subject is a serious political figure who represents a generation of encrusted yet important men who still hold the stakes in the rich man's croquet game of the american political world. wallace is like, post modern and like, real happy with himself.
Abe
just fantastic. DFW is sorely missed. what's great about this book is that it's just as relevant after mccain's decade of losses. it's not a book about the 2000 campaign or mccain so much as it's a book about political reporters and field producers--written from the perspective of a fascinated bystander (DFW). i'd read it again now, even months after the 2008 election.
Zachary
Light and lively reporting from the 2000 campaign. David Foster Wallace wisely gives up early any attempt to interact with McCain. Instead he follows the campaign road-dogs that have seen it all. You should probably read everything DFW wrote, this being no exception. It's nice that it's been expanded and republished in time for the 2008 campaign.
Juanita Rice
A cynical reprint of one essay in Wallace's much more comprehensive book Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, 2006, written in 2000 for Rolling Stone. In other words this is McCain on the 2000
nomination campaign trail, not McCain candidate for 2008 Presidency. Misrepresentation. Sorry the Wallace copyright-holders allowed it.
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Up, Simba republished? 3 39 Dec 12, 2008 06:38AM  
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“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.” 744 likes
“In fact, the likeliest reason why so many of us care so little about politics is that modern politicians makes us sad, hurt us deep down in ways that are hard even to name, much less talk about.” 6 likes
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