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Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Game Change #2)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  6,022 Ratings  ·  802 Reviews
"Those hungry for political news will read  Double Down  for the scooplets and insidery glimpses it serves up about the two campaigns, and the clues it offers about the positioning already going on among Republicans and Democrats for 2016 ... The book testifies to its authors’ energetic legwork and insider access... creating a novelistic narrative that provides a you-are-t ...more
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Penguin Press
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Ben Jackson
Nov 21, 2013 Ben Jackson rated it liked it
So here's the thing with this book:

I wish somebody else had written it.

The research was impeccable, the stories compelling. There was no discernible bias. I'm a bit of a politics junkie, and followed the campaign in considerable depth as it happened, and there was plenty I didn't already know crammed into this book.

But the writing? It's about as pompous, full-of-itself, ridiculously verbose tripe out there.

I'm a man with a fairly expansive vocabulary. I make my living in words. And I had to rea
Nov 07, 2013 Ben rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the original "Game Change," but it's hard to take this one seriously when a Vice Presidential candidate is referred to, almost exclusively, as "Fishconsin." Or when Barack and Michelle share an emotional moment and they're referred to as "FLOTUS and POTUS." Former presidents Clinton and Bush are referred to as "42" and "41". I appreciate that the authors want to set an insider's bitchy tone to make it more fun to read, but the constant nicknames make it feel intellectually fluffy. It i ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Donna rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read Game Change
Shelves: current-events
This book gets 4 stars for content, but severely marked down for writing style.

I follow politics quite a bit, especially presidential campaigns. I might be one of the very few people in America who is grateful for CSPAN's coverage of the conventions because it comes without any commentary or analysis -- just point the camera at the stage and shoot. I will watch this kind of thing for hours. This book gives the behind-the-scene look at campaigns that no one who is not in the very inner circle wo
Steven Z.
Dec 12, 2013 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing
Having recently survived the 2012 presidential election and placed it in my memory bank I thought I was totally satiated with the details that the Obama-Romney contest brought forth. I was greatly mistaken as in DOUBLE DOWN, the sequel to GAME CHANGE the bestselling book that chronicled the 2008 election by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann; the reader is presented with certain details that open new vistas that I was unaware of. The book rekindled the nuttiness, along with the viciousness, and at ...more
Skip Ferderber
Nov 16, 2013 Skip Ferderber rated it really liked it
There's a scene near the end of "Double Down" when the President's debate prep team is working with Obama to get him in shape after the disaster that was the first debate of the 2012 faceoff against Mitt Romney. Of all the books I've read about the president and his term in office, this felt to be the most incisive look at who this enigmatic man might be. It's also one of the few times the book allows enough down time to be truly inciteful about the Wild West Show that was the 2012 national elec ...more
Mar 22, 2014 happy rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
I really enjoyed their book on the 2008 campaign, this volume has serious problems. While Halperin and Heilemann obviously have good sources in the various campaigns, in many ways this book is very difficult read. The authors seem to have fallen in love with their thesauruses. As I was reading this it became obvious that they decided not to use a one syllable word when there was a three or better yet a 4 syllable word available. Another irritating trait was there use of ever changing nick names. ...more
Apr 29, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was concerned that the book wouldn't tell me much I didn't already know, but I had a hard time putting it down. The first section, between the 2010 mid-terms and the Republican race was a bit boring, but not mind-numbingly so. The primary coverage was fascinating, and took up over a third of the story -- I had no idea that the establishment had been working so frantically behind the scenes to get Christie into the race, to avoid being stuck with Mitt. The final part on the general was largely ...more
Dec 25, 2013 Unsupervised rated it liked it
I assume that the media elite have anointed Heilemann and Halperin as this generation's presidential campaign chroniclers as previous generations anointed White and Cramer.

I found this book a much less enjoyable read than their first effort from 2008.

First of all, the campaign itself was a yawn compared to 2008. It was clear from the beginning, in my opinion, that the Republicans had torpedoed any ability to win both by their primary process and the turkey they nominated. The book tries to make
Anna Graham Hunter
Feb 16, 2014 Anna Graham Hunter rated it liked it
Gossipy and fun. I doubt I'll enjoy these books so much when they're writing about elections that don't turn out the way I want them to.
Mal Warwick
Dec 06, 2013 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
Red Meat for Political Junkies

For a campaign junkie like me, reading Double Down was sheer pleasure, as was its predecessor by the same authors, Game Change. I’ve been reading book-length accounts of presidential campaigns since Theodore White’s The Making of the President 1960. This has something to do with my having been personally engaged in six campaigns for the presidency, including several with significant fundraising roles. But there’s more involved than that.

There are few human experienc
Jan 04, 2016 James rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
I need help. It all started so innocently with "What it takes" an account, and a very lengthy one at that, of the democratic and republican primaries for the 1988 US presidential elections. This was quickly followed by "game change" following Obama's 2008 win. Double down takes up the 2012 election with the same addictive, albeit perhaps only to me, mix of recurring themes which would lend themself brilliantly to a wonderful drinking game. Th following elements are always there
1. Spouses who don
Feb 23, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
4 stars for content and being such a fascinating behind the scenes view of a presidential campaign. I'm awed how the author got so much detail from both sides of the campaign.

B...u....t, a serious ding in writing style (over the top) and word choice (excessively verbose). I'm convinced that the author wrote this book with a thesaurus in each hand. After first being impressed with the vocabulary, I then started writing down words that made me go, "Huh?" and here are just a smattering of them: ap
John Connolly
Feb 08, 2014 John Connolly rated it really liked it
I’m not really much for political books as a rule, but Halperin’s and Heilemann’s Game Change, about the 2008 US presidential election, gripped like a thriller, as well as amusing me greatly. Double Down isn’t quite as interesting, mainly because the tension between the emerging Obama and the Clintons isn’t as strong, and there is no Sarah Palin moment. The most entertaining scenes occur during the Republican Party’s nomination process, as a series of increasingly unlikely candidates (hello, Her ...more
Sep 25, 2014 Richard rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, although it didn't seem very even handed. The coverage of Obama was largely adulatory, while Romney was often portrayed as a villainous plutocrat. Since the authors are both aligned with MSNBC, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I'm willing to assume the book is accurate in many of the details. I'm skeptical about some of the portrayals and about some of the larger points. In the end, though, Mitt had a golden opportunity to defeat a very flawed incumbent President and he didn' ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Rob1109 rated it it was ok
Double Down is more of a Let Down

I was very much looking forward to reading `Double Down' by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Years earlier I read and thoroughly enjoyed `Game Change' and was excited about the `sequel.' I expected a similar account of the 2012 election as was depicted in Game Change about the 2008 election. With the exception of the author's name, the books were completely different.

Whereas Game Change was good, Double Down was more of a Let Down.

Game Change (GC) was well-writt
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Nov 25, 2013 nomadreader (Carrie D-L) rated it it was amazing
(originally published at

The backstory: After reading (and loving) Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's first book, Game Change, about the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I grabbed a copy of their follow up, Double Down, which chronicles the 2012 election, as soon as my library had it.

My thoughts: Admittedly, I'm fascinated by politics. I won't go as far to say I enjoy it most of the time, as I far too often find the antics and actions of politicians maddening, b
May 19, 2016 Joseph rated it liked it
The authors of the gossipy book on the 2008 election, Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, are back with another book, this time on the 2012 race between President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. As in the first book, the authors rely on a lot of background information, interviews, and some well-positioned hearsay to show how the race for the White House took shape over the course of a year or so.

Overall, this is some interesting
Nov 05, 2013 Bookworm rated it really liked it
I broke my rule in waiting for books to come out into paperback before buying them, but I could not resist here. The sequel to 'Game Change', or the story of the 2008 election unsurprisingly looks at the story of the 2012 election, from the Republican primary to the incumbent's term to the general election.

In some ways this book is not quite as good as the original, although I admit it may be my biases. The original benefited from being able to focus on a relatively narrow field of characters: O
Amitava Mazumdar
Jan 18, 2016 Amitava Mazumdar rated it it was ok
Finally getting around to reading "Double Down," a book about the 2012 campaign given to me for my birthday two years ago. A lot of it is the typical horse race political reporting you would expect from Politico journalists for whom every verbal flub by Obama or Romney, or change in poll numbers in favor of one or the other, is imbued with deep historical significance that they probably feel justifies their 400 page deep dive into trivial political matters.

That said, there are some anecdotes in
Nov 08, 2013 Jesse rated it it was ok
Do you like politics? You should read this book. It won't blow your mind but it will give you brief moments of nostalgia for a truly surreal yet emotionally tense election and a quite a few interesting additions to a historical event that already contains a thrilling narrative. The reality is that however important the election of 2012 was, it lacked the symbolic potency of 2008 that lasted throughout the campaign. 2008 was the inspiring story of the triumph of a supremely talented rookie ,who e ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Double Down and it's predecessor Game Change prove without a doubt that the Obama administration is just as dysfunctional as any other. It's no wonder we ended up in the recent situation with the government shutdown and the oozing bipartisan angst so prevalent in Washington today. Obama and the "Obamans" still haven't learned that they can't work "at" people, they have to work "with" them in order to do what's right for this country - and they also appear to have the same problem internally as w ...more
John Kaufmann
Apr 17, 2014 John Kaufmann rated it really liked it
A comprehensive, detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the 2012 election. A great summary - if you have the stomach to relive it. The book exposes the personalities, idiosyncrasies, and failings of the candidates (as well as their strengths). Because there were so many Republicans who vied for their party's nomination, the majority of the book is devoted to them (Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and of ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
As a huge fan of Game Change and an avid reader of twitter during election season, this book called to me like a fat purse of opium calls to the beggar in the den: there will never be enough inside. Splendid and riveting reporting of the dirty details of the campaign trail, locked into a narrative so fast that it's only believable because you lived it. No one does a better job at recreating the intimate chats, the heated roundtables, and the quiet decisions that govern our politics.

Of course, l
Dec 05, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
DOUBLE DOWN. (2013). Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. ****.
This is the sequel to the authors’ previous book, “Game Change,” their account of the 2008 presidential election. This book focuses on the election year 2012, the race between Obama and Romney. I’ve seen a lot of references to “meta-data” recently, especially regarding the sub-rosa collection of data from the internet and telephone records. This book – and others like it – are essentially the reservoirs of meta-data relating to politics
Jan 04, 2014 Zach rated it it was amazing
I'll be honest: I didn't think it was possible to make Mitt Romney sympathetic. From the very first chapter, this book paints a portrait of the GOP's 2012 whipping boy that is at times laughable, unbelievable, and heartbreaking. From his unremarkable and fortuitous ascendancy to the Republican nomination to the massacre in the general election, the authors do their very best to make the average American care about Mitt -- something the candidate never accomplished in his campaign.

A lot of hay ha
Jan 08, 2014 Allison rated it it was ok
Even though I knew this book would not be able to compare to Game Change, I didn't realize just how bad it would be. It felt like the authors were as bored writing it, as I was reading it. The first book was full of insight and revelations, but depending on the sections, it felt like this book had been entirely co-opted by the various campaigns. It also seemed as if after the book was written, someone went through the entire book with a thesaurus and found the most ridiculously scholarly words t ...more
Ellen Worling
Nov 29, 2013 Ellen Worling rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Continuing on from their first successful description of the 2008 US election campaign, Game Change, the authors write about the nomination process for the Republican party and the debates and re-election of Barrack Obama. I followed the 2012 election quite closely, but even I was surprised at some of the revelations in this book.

I found the opening Prologue and bit dull, but it isn't long and the book really kicks in to gear with the Republican nomination process. You may recall what a looney t
Nov 10, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
This probably represents everything that's worst in political reporting, including turning politics into a horse race, superficial analysis, and gossip. All of which makes it a fun read, though the tone was irritatingly arch in places and I got tired of presidents being referred to as numbers (What did 44 think of 42's comment? Really, guys, it's okay if you repeat someone's name twice in a paragraph) or various candidates/political figures by nickname (Chris Christie constantly referred to as B ...more
May 17, 2015 John-Paul rated it liked it
Poorly-written, weak analysis. REALLY GOOD GOSSIP. Worth it if that's the sort of thing you like.

Some choice nuggets:

(1) nobody, NOBODY, likes Mitt Romney. Even his supporters found him off-putting. He's unctuous and fake and devoid of principle. He may be a good businessman but he has no understanding of politics, human nature, the human condition, or basic social interaction.

(2) the Republican Party is rudderless and leaderless. All a candidate needs is a personal billionaire and he (or she)
Julie Marshall
Nov 07, 2013 Julie Marshall rated it liked it
A MUST READ? Perhaps Not!

The much hyped sequel to "Game Change" was released yesterday morning online, and by 4am this morning I was tapping my way to its last page on my ipad. A great romping political read? YES! But BE WARNED... the authors' over use of vocabulary will blow your mind! No - not in a too many F word kind of way, but in a "I have no bloody idea what this word means" kind of way!

As a lover of books, a cryptic crossword addict and former online scrabble junkie, I have always prided
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Stitchers Book Club: March Meeting 4 5 Mar 04, 2014 06:51PM  
  • Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America
  • The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
  • The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court
  • Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
  • The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns
  • The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr
  • The Candidate
  • Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party's Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House
  • This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital
  • What It Takes: The Way to the White House
  • Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President
  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
  • The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory
  • The Making of the President 1968
  • The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: the 34 days that decided the election: Playbook 2012 (POLITICO Inside Election 2012)
Mark Halperin is editor-at-large senior political analyst for Time, founding editor of 'The Page' on, and former political director of ABC News. He is also a senior political analyst for MSNBC.
More about Mark Halperin...

Other Books in the Series

Game Change (2 books)
  • Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

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“One way of seeing all this was as a symptom of postmillennial decay, the degradation of public discourse, and the encroachment of celebrity worship into the arena of national affairs. Another way of looking at it was as an indication of the GOP's state of disarray. Then there was the way Trump perceived the thing: as a manifestation of his magnificence...” 6 likes
“It was Bill Clinton who once pithily captured the contrast between the two parties when it came to selecting a presidential standard-bearer: "Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line.” 6 likes
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