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Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  630 ratings  ·  59 reviews
From the best-selling author of A Vast Conspiracy and The Run of His Life comes Too Close to Call--the definitive story of the Bush-Gore presidential recount. A political and legal analyst of unparalleled journalistic skill, Jeffrey Toobin is the ideal writer to distill the events of the thirty-six anxiety-filled days that culminated in one of the most stunning Supreme Cou ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Anyone who has seen a news report over the last two years will know that America is familiar with controversial elections for the role of President of the United States. That being said, some may not know just how much of a mess the 2000 contest turned out to be between Republican George W. Bush and sitting Vice-President Al Gore. Jeffrey Toobin seeks not only to take the reader back to that contest, but to explore the detailed drama that left the country waiting and watching while the State of ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Democrats who want to feel crummy, Republicans who want to gloat.

If you really want to get depressed, read this book which tells the (true) story of our 2000 Presidential election.

It is SO depressing. I mean..I rem ember back then thinking "it can't get any worse then this". Boy was I wrong! When I am wrong, I say it. Wrongers! Oh how wrong little ole me was!

The thing is..I miss George Bush. How SAD is that?! But what I would not give to have him back in office rather then the Man Baby we have now.

Donald Trump makes George Bush look like paradise. But th
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not the democracy Jed Bartlet taught me to believe in.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it

"The votes of Florida have been counted. They have been recounted. And tonight they have been certified."
-George Bush

In college, I remember reading and hearing a little bit about the Florida recount, thinking it was bizarre, and moving on.

Not surprisingly, the story is bizarre. Not bizarre in the "they stole the election kind of way" - although I felt more sympathetic to those people after reading the book.

The book looks at the differing approaches of the Republicans and the Democrats to the re
Nov 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
While I was well-aware of all the general information in this saga, I learned many more details.Very good at filling in the personalities and political leanings of all the players.Very fast-paced book.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great recap of the 2000 Presidential election, one of two important U.S. events that happened while I was out of the country. I finally feel like I know what was going on!
Tammy Mannarino
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very well done, but I do wish that he had been more objective. It was fascinating to read in light of our current situation. In some ways the 2000 and 2020 elections seem similar (divided country, post election recounts and court cases), but they really are very different. The race in Florida was truly close 537 votes whereas we don't have anything like that today. Toobin's book really highlights how differently voting is handled in distinct areas within a single state (butterfly ballots, OCR ba ...more
Bob Nielsen
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you have interest in this election, this book covers it very well. I didn't feel it was slanted in either direction, instead just gave the facts as they were known at the time of the writing.

I've had this book for a number of years and never got around to it, so I decided I would pull it off the shelf and give it a go. This is the first time in a few years that I read an actual hardcover book and not a Kindle edition of a book. Wow, what a cumbersome way to read a book. With my Kindle, I can
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finally finished this book! I started it as a physical book on an airplane flight three years ago and then wasn't able to dedicate the time necessary to completing it. Fast forward three years and I finished this book as a dedicated audiobook format consumer.

Reading this book in 2020 really makes my blood boil as a Democrat reading about the most controversial election reversal of my lifetime. Al Gore had won votes in Florida. But his team was too consumed about public opinion, Washington DC o
Colin Loberg
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
-I started reading this before Toobin’s Zoom nudity incident

-I strongly recommend reading the Wikipedia page of the Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris. Toobin finished this book less than a year after the election and speculates she’d run for Congress but couldn’t predict her dramatic fall from grace over the next 5 years

-page 145: “[Roger Stone] specialized in the quixotic, short lived presidential campaigns of people such as Senator Arlen Spe
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Ultimately dispiriting, this book shows the irrelevancy of the the voters' will. I read it because I thought two later books by Toobin, "The Run of His Life" (OJ Simpson trial) and "American Heiress" were excellent. I found "Too Close to Call" competent but less gripping. The politicians and lawyers make less of an impact on the reader. Also, the story of powerful men and women manipulating the results of a presidential election through lies is a painfully familiar one. ...more
Rebecca Thomas
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Since I had heard a lot of commentary about the 2000 election that said Democrats were wrong thinking that Bush had stolen the election I wanted to see what really happened. This is an excellent book. It showed me that more Democrats want to do what is right than Republicans. Republicans just want power to fulfill their right wing agenda. I guess Democrats are going to need to fight dirty.
Hooray for Black Lives Matter and getting out the vote movement.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He is a great writer to read. I did not realize that there was never a hand recount of all the votes. I also have understood that the difference between the two camps is that the Republicans did anything to win, including racism. Also the Florida House of Representatives were prepared to vote to give all their Electoral Votes to even if Gore had won the recount..
Hannah Mumm
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Super interesting. This guy is probably the go-to expert on Bush v. Gore, but there were just so many characters (as there would be in an enormous legal battle, I guess). But it was just hard to keep track of them.
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow. What a story. There are so many things going on here. I certiantly knew the issues with the recounts in those counties and maybe Florida statewide, but I did not realize how differently the two candidates and their staff handled this. I'm not surprised to learn the Republicans handled this with shrewd unity and that Democrats tried to take the high road making sure that they don't offend or look bad. I also found it interesting to learn how indifferent Gore's staff felt towards him compared ...more
Kathleen Kirchner
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Good info but the last few pages were too partisan for my taste.
Jared Goerke
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look at the 2000 presidential recount.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
At times I actually thought Gore has a chance to pull it off.
Justin Bitner
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating coverage of a wild moment in political history.

This was almost a 5-star, but there were so many characters, it was really tough to tell who was on who’s side a lot of the time.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
plot twist at the end!!!
Chip Redihan
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021 incredible insight into just how close we were to President Gore. Especially interesting in the aftermath of the 2020 election
Scott Peterson
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Legal and Politics Buffs Will Love This Book

This book should be dense and boring. But it is a true page turner if you enjoy history, politics, and the law.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toobin’s analysis of the battle over the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida exposes any number of faults in the American democratic process. Ordinarily, the will of the electorate is fairly clear, and these faults do not effect the outcome of an election. In the extrordinarily close election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, however, our imperfect system ground to a near halt and left us with an outcome that in all likelihood did not express the will of the voters.

At the most basic
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Jeffrey Toobin’s Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election is the story of the contested 2000 United States presidential election and the subsequent legal and political battle. The contested election in Florida was not the result of a single mistake or decision but rather a “perfect storm” including: flawed ballots, voters improperly marking their ballots, and poorly calibrated voting machines. This led to conflicts over voter intent on certain ballots and which ba ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
An in-depth account of the 2000 Florida recount by CNN's chief legal analyst. Toobin, who was in Florida covering the recount, tells the behind-the-scenes tale of the month-long battle, and explains the legal and political processes involved.

In Toobin's account, Bush had several key advantages during the recount battle:
1. Bush had started off in the lead after election night, and thus carried a public imprimatur that few judges or election officials dared to challenge.
2. The Republicans were abl
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
While this book sounds like a dry factual account - and it contains as much information as I would expect from a good one - it's also suprisingly emotionally effective. It's hard to discern to what extent that derives from Toobin's prose and analysis and to what extent it derives from the memories the topic recalls, but either way it's an impressive feat. It is, for better or worse, like reliving the tension, exasperation, and disappointment five weeks following the 2000 election.

The dynamics a
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: judiciary
As the saga reaches its climax (and as his story approaches its conclusion) Toobin's bias becomes increasingly difficult to ignore or mitigate. His tone starts balanced and reasonably fair, but becomes increasingly shrill and mean-spirited. Hard to concentrate on getting through the story without that needless distraction. He undermines his case by taking the swipes at Republican efforts and excusing Democrats.
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Nine" and was really looking forward to his interpretation o
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I did enjoy this book to a very high level. Not only did it contain insight on the election before it happened, in very detailed manner, it also showed the effects post-election. This election had a very significant impact on the United States, and it challenged the Judiciary system and the courts, and tested the integrity of both candidates. Both Bush and Gore had to exemplify patience to a high level and maintain their equanimity in a very stressful situation. The author, Jeffery Toobin, had g ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I reread this recently in anticipation of shenanigans and a scare somewhere with the recent 2008 election. It is absolutely fascinating. Jeff Toobin makes the ins and outs of archaic Florida election law accessible to even the most amateur reader of law (read: me) and the resulting material is tremendously compelling. The disgusting advantages afforded to each side on a daily basis; the tenuous connection that Dems and the GOP had on winning the battle to recount the votes; Gore's meekness in fi ...more
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
We all might want to forget that it ever happened -- not only the election that the U.S. Supreme Court superseded but also the whole George W. Bush presidency that followed. That would be unwise. Reading Toobin's book 10 years after the historic episode you can see how the principles (or lack of them) of the Bush administration and Republicans were in operation even before day one, e.g., win at all costs, no compromising or bipartisanship.

Gore comes out looking high-principled but uninspiring as
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Jeffrey Ross Toobin (J.D., Harvard Law School, 1986; B.A., American History and Literature, Harvard University) is a lawyer, blogger, and media legal correspondent for CNN and formerly The New Yorker magazine. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, and later worked as a legal analyst for ABC News, where he received a 2001 Emmy Award for his coverage of t ...more

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