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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House Hardcover – 11 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (11 Jan 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0670918024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670918027
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The classic account of an epic presidential race... A book that reads like the fevered dream that everyone even remotely involved in the campaign insists it was - longer, more intense, more significant and peopled with vastly more fascinating candidates than any presidential race in living memory. Small wonder that HBO bought the film rights nine months before publication. (Giles Whittell The Times )

Race of a Lifetime is sleazy, personal, intrusive, shocking - and horribly compulsive. It is also thoroughly researched, well-paced and occasionally very amusing. Anyone who follows American politics will want to read it. (The Economist )

A spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations and allegations... The authors mix savvy political analysis with detailed reconstructions of scenes and conversations. They employ the same sort of technique Bob Woodward pioneered in his bestselling books to create a novelistic narrative.

[Race of a Lifetime] leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history.

(Michiko Kakutani The New York Times )

THE book to read about the election... Three modern presidential campaigns produced riveting, definitive chronicles: 1960 (The Making of the President), 1968 (The Selling of the President) and 1988 (What It Takes). Now there's a fourth great campaign book, about 2008: Race of a Lifetime. (Kurt Andersen Very Short List )

From the Publisher

The American title of this book is GAME CHANGE.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Googly on 2 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite its heft this book is a page-turner, even if we all know what happens at the end. There's a good degree of detail about life in Hillaryland and Obamania that will appeal mostly to those interested in the machinations of the US political machine, yet this doesn't descend into policy wonkery (indeed, some would say neither did the Democrat campaign). It's the story of the personalities, the deep rivalries, the egos - oh, the egos! - and the media's capacity to surprise. Who now remembers the times when Wright, Ayers, guns and religion were threatening to derail Obama's candidacy? John Edwards? Giuliani?

This is, for sure, a story of the Democratic campaign: only a quarter of the book refers to the GOP although the widely trailed tidbits about Palin are both interesting to read and quite terrifying. I disagree with the reviewer who suggests that the authors are in awe of Obama: these are two very experienced journalists who understand what made him a standout candidate and the right man at the right time. There has also been criticism of the lack of sources for the work but if this is read as a piece of journalism rather than an academic history then this is not a big deal. If anyone disagreed with the narrative then you'd be sure to have heard about it.

If you're looking for a readable, enlightening reminder of the 2008 campaign then you'll find much to enjoy in this book. Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE on 6 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
The best American journalism can stand comparison with any. Game Change is about as good as it gets - in the tradition of All The President's Men.

This is a blow-by-blow, almost day-by-day account of the 2008 US Presidential election, from the battle for nomination right up to the doors of the White House. Of course, we know from the outset how it will end but that gives the book its architecture. What is fascinating is the uncovering of the foundations, the bricks, the plaster, above all the emotion and the drama of the days when this or that edifice - Obama or Clinton, Obama or McCain - almost comes tumbling down, until at last one does. The race is starkly winner-takes-all, though in Hillary Clinton's case there is a substantial consolation prize.

The reviewer who raises an eyebrow at "unsubstantiated hearsay" may have skipped the Authors' Note. This makes clear that the basis for the book was "more than three hundred interviews with more than two hundred people ... in sessions that often stretched over several hours." Reasons for the authenticity of quoted dialogue are set out in detail. Certain thoughts or feelings are characterised by the use of italics. This is serious and responsible journalism. If Obama inevitably emerges as the hero, he does not do so free from criticism.

By the end, the reader will know what it was like in intimate detail for all the participants, major and minor. This is one of those rare volumes for which five stars seem inadequate.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Diacha on 23 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
" Race of a Lifetime" is a blow-by-blow account of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. It contains few truly new revelations, but it maintains its pace and mildly prurient interest from beginning to end.

"Race" belongs to the school of "omniscient journalism." Its authors report not only what protagonists did and said ("F-bombs" and all) but also what they thought at the time. John Heileman and Mark Halperin, both established journalists ("New York" magazine and "Time", respectively), construct their narrative from a base of 300 interviews with over 200 people, including several of the principals. Since these interviews were "deep background," there are few attributions to specific sources. The account appears to be substantially accurate, though I understand that Sarah Palin's staff have disputed how their boss is portrayed - and well they might, since she is documented as "catatonic", ill informed, less than fully truthful and off message. Not worthy of high office, in other words. Hopefully this message will stick.

Most of the book addresses the epic struggle between Hillary Clinton and Obama in the Democratic primary as Clinton's seemingly assured victory melted away and Obama's quixotic insurgency morphed into a Movement. There is a brief digression to cover John Edwards' doomed bid: Edwards is revealed to be the egomaniac, sleazebag that we had suspected all along, though it was surprising to learn that his wife, tragically afflicted by cancer, is not the saint suggested by her public image but rather an unpleasant, vindictive bully. Once Obama wins the nomination, the focus turns to his battle with McCain.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim VINE VOICE on 20 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Race of a Lifetime is the insider account of Barak Obama's stunning rise to the presidency of the United States. Co-authored by two of the country's top political journalists, it relies upon some 200 hundred off-the-record interviews with campaign insiders (we're never told which ones) and moves along with the pace of a novel.

Although Obama is the central character, the narrative revolves around other key players, principally Hillary Clinton, but also John Edwards, John McCain and Sarah Palin. It altered my opinion about Clinton - who comes across as thoroughly decent, diligent and admirable character - but reinforces what I knew about the others.

Those who saw and loved the last two brilliant series of the much-missed West Wing are in for a real treat. The powerful characters and breakneck narrative seem more in tune with a fictional creation than the staid world of politics.

Yet truth is stranger than fiction, and had that programme's creators devised characters such as Sarah Palin, they would have been accused of parody.

Palin - with the egomanic and sleazy John Edwards - comes off worst in this book, although it is her ignorance rather than cynicism or ego that is her worst sin. It remains a terrifying thought that she could have been a missed heartbeat away from being the most powerful person in the world.

One of the books' best episodes recounts her cramming sessions on forign affairs. During a lengthy primer on twentieth century history, of which she knew nothing, one ofe her aides suggests a break. "No, no, no, let's keep going," said Palin with the apparent wonderment of a child. "This is awesome."

The book should be read with a few reservations.
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