Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
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Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  13,943 ratings  ·  2,326 reviews
“This shit would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.”—Barack Obama, September 2008

In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton—...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 11th 2010 by Harper (first published January 1st 2010)
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brian
"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...more
Lorin Kleinman
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...more
Diane
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...more
Dennis
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...more
Chip
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...more
Heidi
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...more
D
Aug 08, 2012 D rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of politics and campaigns
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...more
Mark Ferguson
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...more
Ernie.tedeschi
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...more
Scott
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...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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?"
Lightreads
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...more
Eric_W
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...more
Wayne Edmondson
Mar 02, 2010 Wayne Edmondson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: concerned citizens
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...more
thewanderingjew
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...more
Joe
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...more
Joe
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...more
Ceilidh
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...more
Erik Simon
Gossip gossip gossip gossip bad metaphor. Gossip gossip gossip gossip really awful simile. Gossip gossip sex passing as history. Gossip gossip. Gossip gossip gossip can't tell you who said this but believe us, it's true. Gossip gossip gossip. No, seriously, even though I'm wrong more than any other pundit (Halperin), believe me, it's true. Gossip gossip gossip. No, I can't give my sources, but believe me. Gossip gossip gossip.
Pam
Two households, both alike in ambition and privilege,
In fair USA, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new drama,
Where uncivil tongues makes press hands unclean.
From forth the fatal parties of these foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers join their fates;
Whose misadventur’d extramarital affairs overthrows
Do with their defeats escalate their party's strife.
The fearful passage of their union-mark’d death for the ticket,
And the continuance of their constituent’s rage,
Which,...more
Isaac
This was a fascinating book about the "inside scoop" of the last presidential campaign. The book focuses mainly on the Democrats, both during primary season and in the general election. (Which makes sense, since the Democrats' primary produced the winning candidate, and since the Obama/Clinton drama was much more interesting than the McCain/Romney/Guiliana drama.)

The book gives you the inside look of what the candidates were like, and what the campaigns were like, rather than just recounting wha...more
Timothy Hallinan
Well, we've come a long way from the magisterial days of Theodore White and The Making of the President -- all the way to this book, which is sort of politics as seen by People magazine.

That's not a knock. The book is hypnotically interesting for anyone who's any sort of political junkie (or is just distressed by the state of the nation) and often either hallucinatory or funny -- sometimes, in fact, both. This is the dish on the campaign, and to the extent that we should be interested in the fla...more
Daniel
Say what you want about its failings - and it has a few - but I couldn't put it down and what more do you really want from a book?

Its critics are right. There are no sweeping lessons or broad themes. It has a tabloidy "just the facts" quality that make it salacious and enlightening if a bit frustrating.

And if you are an Obama lover, then this is for you. The book waxes poetic about the chocolate Jesus, which of course is easy to do because he is the big winner. In that light, everything he does...more
Brad
A guilty pleasure read. There's some good gossip and interesting insight into all of the candidates. But, the text is "thin." Heilemann and Halperin wrote the entire book like an extended newspaper article. Worse still, you can tell that a majority of the narrative is mish-mashed interviews sans quotation marks.

If you are even remotely interested in this book though, read the Edwards segments. It's like watching (or reading about) an epic trainwreck. There's a disturbing part where Elizabeth te...more
Jill
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...more
David
Fast paced, clearly written, anonymously-sourced account of the 2008 election campaign, focusing mainly on Democratic primaries (some on John Edwards, esp. his baby mama drama; lots on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) and general election (decent amount on McCain, lots on Palin).

Pure process focus -- ads, rallies, speeches, zingers, gaffes, facial expressions during debates, etc. If you want policy comparisons, who had the best health care plan and so on, you'll be disappointed.

A book like th...more
di
This was a solid 3. I liked the book; kind of the same type of satisfaction when you peek at the tabloid headlines when going through the grocery check-out aisle. But this was part history, part gossip! Kind of fun, & added dimension on the historic election of 2008. (Mostly confirmed the hunches I already had.)

Did it change my life? No. Did it hold any surprises? No. (We followed the election pretty closely.) Didn't make me cynical. Didn't change my view of politics really. While this book...more
Coldsoup753
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...more
Corey Preston
2.5.
A thriller, no doubt.
An at times fascinating look at the President and his most intense rivals--I plowed through it in a matter of days.
A reminder of just how cinematic 2008 was, especially compared to 2012, for sure.
But ultimately thin and unsatisfying.
After some truly interesting reporting on the earliest stages of the Democratic primaries, Game Change devolves into a greatest hits recap of the election, spicing up well-known anecdotes with silly gossip, and subject-serving hero worship/ch...more
Michelle
A fascinating peek inside the 2008 presidential campaign and it really drove home how, like much of life, politics is all about being in the right place in the right time. Obama himself thought that the U.S. was ready for him at that moment and if he waited for years then he wasn’t “change” anymore. Very true.

After reading this I have increased respect for McCain (as a person) and decreased for Hillary (didn’t want to be VP: “I’ve already had that job”). Though they did mostly live up to their s...more
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John Arthur Heilemann is an American journalist for New York magazine, where he mainly covers US politics. Previously, he was a staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired and The Economist. He is the co-author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Game Change Obama and the Clintons McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime, about the 2008 US presidential campaign. Heilemann is also a political anal...more
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“If you think all these terrible things about Obama, he asked the woman, how can you possibly be undecided?

Because if McCain dies, Palin would be president, she said.”
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“We are the makers of history, not its victims.” 2 likes
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