Ernie.tedeschi'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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Mar 26, 2010

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Read in March, 2010

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 notable nuggets of original reporting, it's more a recap than a fill-in-the-blank.

Of the characters involved, John Edwards by far comes out the worst, while Hillary Clinton's is the richest, most complex and ultimately sympathetic portrait. The lack of background sources from the Obama campaign is glaring: the depiction of Obama is incomplete and unsatisfying, and as a result Obama comes across as cold for most of the book. The authors maintain a reasonably balanced perspective on everyone--including John McCain and Sarah Palin, whom the authors do a decent job humanizing--until the financial crisis hits in Chapter 21, which is turning point of both the actual campaign and the book itself. At this point, the authors take their thumbs off the scale and serve up a brutal contrast of the approaches Obama and McCain took to the financial crisis.

A fun and quick read.
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03/26 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen Johnson that book is flying off the shelves at the library. one lady told me it was depressing bc she didn't want to know how everything really worked!


Tracey M I totally agree with your analysis of the book. I was looking for more background on the Obama strategy and why it worked, but aside from the odd one-sentence reference to the money pouring in on his website, there was none of that analysis. It was definitely gossipy, which was "fun" in a sense but I was looking for something with more substance.


rpgmaker "Horse race" coverage is Halperin trademark. You can't really expect more from the guy. Well all read this book because of its "gossipy" nature. Call it a guilty pleasure.


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