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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  4,769 ratings  ·  708 reviews
Michiko Kakutani,The New York Times:
"Those hungry for political news will readDouble Downfor 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 n
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ben Jackson
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
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 28, 2013 Donna rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.
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
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
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
I picked this up the day it came out, which is one of those character-revealing statements, probably. Anyway, this is perhaps more gossipy and personality-driven than the 2008 volume, which is pretty impressive considering this book contains no John Edwards and very little Sarah Palin. The buzz in the circles I move in was mostly about Christie, as this book contains leaked details of his vetting file compiled by Romney's VP search team. And pretty unpleasant stuff it is, too. But you don't need ...more
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
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
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
Anna Graham Hunter
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
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
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
John Connolly
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
John Kaufmann
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
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
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
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
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)
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
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
(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
Ellen Worling
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 21, 2013 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann seem to have picked up the mantle of Theodore White as the chroniclers of Presidential elections. Following hard on their book of the 2008 election, Game Change, Double Down gives us a micro-view of the 2012 race showing all the candidates warts and all. The Republican primary "Clown Car" was even worse than I thought it was, Romney had a really vicious side to him and Obama wasn't quite as cool as the public persona he likes to project.

If you're a political junk
Not as good as Game seemed like the authors were just trying to cash in, riding on the laurels from Game Change...but this book wasn't nearly as good.

One real annoyance, that I shared with another reader who had noticed the same thing: the odd and frequent use (and occasional misuse) of rarely-used words, many of them archaic. It seemed like the authors were using these words just to use show off their word knowledge, instead of using words to impart meaning. In many insta
Gerald Heath
Double Down is the inside story of the 2012 election, and is the follow-up book to Game Change, which covered the 2008 election. It was informative and an enjoyable read. I felt that the authors leaned a bit to the left, but that might just have been because the Romney campaign made more mistakes. Lots of anecdotes and entertaining information about the candidates and those who handled them, but nothing really nasty. There is some strong language. At the end of the book, when they chronicled the ...more
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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
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
  • Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
  • The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns
  • This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital
  • The Candidate
  • The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory
  • The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr
  • Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
  • The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court
  • Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
  • The Loudest Voice in the Room: How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics
  • Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
  • The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: the 34 days that decided the election: Playbook 2012 (POLITICO Inside Election 2012)
  • What It Takes: The Way to the White House
  • The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era
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...

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Game Change (2 books)
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“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.” 4 likes
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