Friday, March 12, 2010

Review: Game Change by John Heilemann, Mark Halperin

I've always been fascinated with national politics. I have landed on both sides of the political aisle, worked on campaigns and received personal correspondence from a president! When I heard about the buzz that proceeded this book, I was eager to get my hands on it the first day it was published. Some have called it sheer gossip. Others have called it an insider's look at how modern campaigns really operate. I agree with the latter. Politics and politicians are presented to Americans through short sound bites, carefully managed interviews, and staging designed to offer focused group dependent points of view. But what really goes on behind the scenes? How do the players maneuver through their handlers, react to pressure and cave to or rise with public opinion?

What surprised me most about the accounts in this book, the R's and the D's alike- is that rarely, does the public see who they really are. They are not politically correct behind the political stage curtain. They curse, they tell off-color jokes, they slip up, sell out, and do what ever is necessary to win.

An almost audible switch flips when politicians step up to the podium or when the red record button signals "Action!" The change from private to public is demonstratively dramatic- and the revelations in this book are fascinating to read. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was! Our leaders are imperfect human beings. They talk, sigh, and get frustrated just like we do. If only we could see that side more often, it might be shocking, but it would be very real and like Game Change offers, a refreshing, raucous revelation.

This is a fascinating and well-written account. No one, nor any side is spared from the authors' scrutiny and excellent old fashioned reporting.

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