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

(Game Change #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  20,079 ratings  ·  2,583 reviews
“It’s one of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22.” —The Financial Times

 

“It transports you to a parallel universe in which everything in the National Enquirer is true….More interesting is what we learn about the candidates themselves: their frailties, egos and almost super-human stamina.” —The Financial
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Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 11th 2010 by Harper (first published January 1st 2010)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  20,079 ratings  ·  2,583 reviews


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brian
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
"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
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Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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I don't generally make a habit of posting my political beliefs in public forums, but that is a difficult subject to escape when reviewing a book about politics. I mean, it's possible. I could write something dull and impartial like, "GAME CHANGE is a great look into the 2008 election. Eye-opening. I enjoyed it" - but let's be honest, okay? Where is the fun in that? Plus, as it turns out, I actually have some sincere thoughts on the subject.
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Lorin Kleinman
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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Dennis
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poli-sci, nonfiction
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
Diane
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
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
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Bettie☯
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Description via wiki: Game Change is a 2012 American HBO political drama film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign of John McCain, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, based on the 2010 book of the same name documenting the campaign by political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The film stars Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris, and focuses on the chapters about the selection and performance of Governor of Alaska Sarah Pal ...more
Hadrian
Say, remember the 2008 presidential campaign and how wild we thought it all was? How Hillary's professional campaign lost to some upstart with big ears and a funny name from Illinois, how one of the Democratic front-runners, John Edwards, imploded from having extra-marital affairs and campaign finance laws? (Come to think of it, who remembers when campaign finance laws were enforced?)

Ever remember how John McCain actually defended Barack Obama from those allegations that he was a secret Muslim?
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Chip
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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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?"
Heidi
Feb 14, 2010 rated it 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-scratc ...more
D
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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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
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Joe
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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Ernie.tedeschi
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Joe
May 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mark Ferguson
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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Emily
Mar 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Although I'd already read most of the good dirt from this book in the news, it was worth reading as a portrayal of how modern campaigns run--not that the portrayal is an inspiring one. The authors give the impression that Obama was almost guaranteed to win given the total disarray of the competing campaigns, which is interesting chiefly because it sure didn't feel that way at the time. (Even on election night, I was almost begging a friend not to prematurely uncork his champagne.) The account fo ...more
Joyce
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The inner workings of the 2008 presidential campaigns made for some pretty fascinating and down right scary reading. First of all there is the huge ego of each candidate. Then the money. Huge sums of money are involved. There's got to be a better way. And to learn that Palin was not vetted properly or merely superficially was down right reckless for the country. The campaign became entertainment. But here we are in midst of another election and it seems just as bad. I can already see another boo ...more
Ceilidh
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Scott
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Alexw
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating insider account of the Presidential Election. Clinton's fury that the media didn't focus on Obomas use of cocaine, Hilarious account of Bill Clinton trying to get Ted Kennedy to endorse Hillary and saying, "you know 10 years ago he(Oboma) would have been waiting on our table."
The language used by all candidates is more suited to sailors on leave.
Kathrina
Dec 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I couldn't stop reading until I found out who won.
Simon
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm reading a lot of presidential history this summer and never got around to Game Change when it first arrived. In addition, I watched a few minutes of the HBO movie and had the idea that most of this would be concerned with the rise of the unspeakable Sarah Palin.

So the book was a pleasant surprise. The authors take the reader through the 2007-2008 primary season and election. Most of the book is devoted to the rising enmity between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although there were some sw
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Jack
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: events and people are discussed here according to the way I thought the book portrayed them. If you consider those characterizations inaccurate or unfair, or if the interpretations conveyed in this review contradict your own political views, take it up with Misters Heilmann and Halperin, and perhaps with the mainstream media as a whole. If you think my characterizations of the authors' characterizations are unfair, well I suppose that is on me.

The anecdotes and gossip make this wort
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Coldsoup753
Feb 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jill
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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thewanderingjew
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Wayne Edmondson
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Lightreads
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Ericka Clouther
I’m 10 years late to this book but fascinating to see the evolution of campaigns and how much things have changed. The concerns about divisive, racist, or incorrect rhetoric seem quaint in this era of vitriol and lies. For goodness sake, John Edwards campaign failed because he had an affair and broke campaign finance laws. Now compare that to the outrageous nonsense of 2016.

Really interesting to see how various campaigns were functional and dysfunctional. Seems like Hillary Clinton made a lot of
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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.” 7 likes
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