Heidi's Reviews > Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

Game Change by John Heilemann
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Feb 14, 2010

really liked it

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-scratch-with-whole-milk hot chocolate. Are you with me? Are you sensing the intense pleasure of all this? I hope so.

Because that’s Game Change.

A behind-the-scenes look at the major players of the 2008 Presidential election, this book was riveting and compelling and all the other adjectives you find on the back cover of bestsellers. The seasoned journalists who conducted the 400+ interviews and wrote the book clearly know a good story when they see one. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall when Hillary met secretly with Obama to discuss the terms of her withdrawal from the race? (She asked for help to pay her campaign debts and he declined.) Who wouldn’t want a peek inside McCain’s mind when he tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate? (She was literally a last-minute decision.)

A couple warnings.

First. If you’re a Palin-loving Tea Party member or a diehard Bill Clinton democrat you won’t like how your icons are portrayed. If you're an Obama-hater you won't like how he's portrayed either. I’m none of the above so the book didn’t bother me.

Second. All the candidates need to carry a bar of soap next to their Blackberries so they can wash their mouths out. I was surprised by their language. The worst culprit, McCain, has such a fondness for the f-word I skipped entire sentences.

But even with their language issues the candidates and their spouses make for world-class people-watching. So go ahead. Indulge yourself and read the book. You are welcome to borrow my copy, but only on one condition: after you read it you have to come over to my house. We’ll make a big bowl of buttery popcorn and some killer hot chocolate and talk politics and personalities for hours. I’ll even light a fire and pray for rain. I can’t wait.
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06/10/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky I read about this book and so wanted to read it. I even tried to order it from Borders but it was on backorder. It's definitely on my "to read" list. I'm happy to see you gave it such a great recommendation.


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy I'll read the book just so I can come over and chat about it next to your fireplace with buttery popcorn and whole milk gourmet hot chocolate in hand. ;-) Did you feel like the authors were biased at all in their portrayal of the candidates, or did you think they provided a balanced view?


message 3: by Heidi (last edited Feb 15, 2010 03:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Heidi Please come over! (With or without the book.)

I think it's impossible to know how unbiased the authors are without reading the transcripts of the 400+ interviews that informed the book. Frankly, in politics the truth gets trumped by perception all the time so I wasn't bothered by a book filled with observations.

I got the sense the authors tried to be even-handed, even though they have been accused of being soft on Obama. IMHO, the reality is that Obama is a really likeable and articulate guy, and even if he is 100% wrong in his politics (we'll determine that when you come over...) he's still really likeable and articulate. So I can see why conservatives hate the book, but I think they're missing the point of the book: it's about personalities - not politics - and how those personalities shaped the 2008 election.




message 4: by Caryn (last edited Feb 15, 2010 10:09PM) (new)

Caryn There was a book at Costco that I saw today that looked interesting to me : The War on Success: How the Obama Agenda Is Shattering the American Dream by Tommy Newberry (I'm sure much more biased then this book). You gave such a well written review of this book, though!


Heidi Did you buy the book, Caryn? I'd definitely read it. Sounds like it's about politics and not personalities,which also interests me. Most political books are biased; my philosophy is it doesn't matter if the book is biased as long as you know it is. We should read it for book club - it would definitely spark some great conversation.


Christy I'm in! Can I borrow your copy? I have been dying to read this! And don"t get me started on talking politics, we could be there for awhile....


Heidi It's all yours. Do you have the Defense of Food book or did you listen to it on tape? If you have the book I'd love to swap.


message 8: by Keri (new)

Keri Can I come over for the popcorn and hot chocolate without reading the book? It does sound very interesting, and I would hate to miss this conversation between you and Christy, but at this point in my life not a lot of reading is getting done--Hmmm, wonder what is taking my time. I guess in some sense it's politics. Maybe I would learn something.


Heidi Absolutely, Keri. As soon as Christy is done we'll call you. Do you want her to finish before or after the end of June? I have a feeling you'll be able to write a book on politics when you're done with festival.


message 10: by Karen (new)

Karen I love your review...you definitely have me intrigued. I usually don't have anything remotely interesting to say but would love to hear your conversations if you ever do get together to discuss this book. Of course I have to read it first. I would love to borrow your book next. :)


Heidi What are you talking about? "I usually don't have anything remotely interesting to say..." Whatever. You're no more boring than the rest of us :-). My book is just sitting on my shelf & you are welcome to borrow it any time.

Hey, Adam told me this is a secret so keep it hush-hush, but he recently told me that he plans to marry Lauren.


message 12: by Karen (new)

Karen Lauren's been talking alot about Adam too. Too cute!


Christy Heidi wrote: "It's all yours. Do you have the Defense of Food book or did you listen to it on tape? If you have the book I'd love to swap."

Yeah I have the book. Would love to swap!


Heidi Will you or your daughters be driving by my house in the next 36 hours? I'd love to swap books with you before the weekend.


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