Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Perhaps the reason that I sighed with great joy when reading page 3 of this book was that I was sitting in the massage chair at the beauty shop (as we called the salon when I was a just a little girl), getting my hair returned to its natural color (my natural color when I was just a little girl).
But probably it had more to do with the fact that this book is everything I adore: a behind-the-scenes account of a presidential campaign, filled with all kinds of details provided by insiders.
I am sitting here, grinning, at the mere thought of such a book.
If you wish to abandon this blog immediately to avoid further contact with such a one, I do not fault you.
But I do not apologize. I can’t help it: I’ve been a campaign news geek ever since I was just a little girl.
(First political memory: At age 4, I told the other preschoolers who my mom voted for in the presidential election. I don’t recall that anyone present particularly cared; I also recall thinking, “Oh… I don’t think I was supposed to tell.”)
This book is way the heck more recent than that, as you can tell from its big long subtitle. It’s about that most addictive of all presidential campaign seasons: 2008. And also about the couple of years leading up to it, when the candidates were getting their stuff together.
And it’s written in a wonderfully lively style that is a delight to experience. I tell you, it’s lively!
Heilemann and Halperin move effortlessly from using words (several of them) that I had to look up in the dictionary (including this word, which ain’t even in my collegiate dictionary: tsuris*) to a conversational tone like we see here:
“Some days later, Bill received a phone call from George W. Bush. The current and former presidents spoke more often than almost anyone knew; from time to time, when 43 was bored, he would call 42 to chew the fat.” (p. 227)
So—since this is behind-the-scenes stuff—we get to hear the candidates saying snide things and getting all frustrated with their staffers and using very bad language.
And then there’s the whole John Edwards fiasco. And the Palin thing. That’s the prurient stuff.
On a higher plane, we get to see how national and international events affected the strategies of the candidates. And we see the maneuverings that led to certain endorsements. And it all unfolds like we know it will, but we get to hear the story behind the story.
For narrative nonfiction junkies, this book is pure pleasure. For political junkies, same thing.
*found it in the Big Dictionary I got here; it means “trouble” (with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool)