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Double Down
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced account of the US Presidential Election of 2012. The authors give a detailed description of the twists and turns of the electoral cycle and in fairness it reads like an adventure story. The characters are well drawn and the authors narration of events is authentic and supported by other sources. The contest for the Republican Party nomination and the travails of Mitt Romney the eventual nominee is especially entertaining. The picture of Romney that emerges is of a far more humane and complex man than the one portrayed by the mainstream media. According to this book it would appear that the problem for Romney was that his humanity and complexity held no appeal for the Republican base, especially its Tea Party wing. There is little new in the portrait of President Obama in this book. His strengths and weaknesses are as they were in 2008 and there is no real evidence of change or evolution in his thinking and attitudes to the political process.
My main criticism of the book is that it moves swiftly along through the controversies and calamities of the election with undue haste and without sufficient reflection on the underlying causes of the various events that made this election one of the most keenly fought and bitter contests in a very long time. The scale of President Obama's victory obscures the fact that both camps had genuine reasons to fear they would lose the election and that almost to the very end the outcome was in the balance. That sense of fear and suspense is well captured in this book and for that reason I rate it highly and would recommend it as an entertaining and enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2013
"Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann is an extensive political study about 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign and following elections, but also the analysis of Barack Obama's previous Presidency term making it a significant work for the political analysts.

Due to the book's larger size the authors were able to afford to put in the book much more than the elections analysis therefore the book is divided into three parts; its first part is telling author's story about all the aspects of Obama's Presidential mandate, second part describes what was happening in the Republican Party before the elections and how nominations were received and lost, and last part speaks about the elections themselves describing in detail what happened during the political fight between Romney and Obama.

As already mentioned, the book is quite extensive and detailed, and its main advantage is that it allows people who are not so familiar with details to inform about this topic using just this one book.

On the other hand, for those who already know a lot about what happened before the elections, and is more familiar with the characteristics of the Barack Obama's political rule, the book in large part will be repeating of known facts, causing déjà vu feeling.

It seems that the main intention of the authors was to make a sort of encyclopedia for the previous political period, one of those books that when you open for 20 years will bring back memories of everything that has happened in those turbulent months and years.
Therefore the reader inside can also find information about some little known candidates who even got into the primaries of which the authors often don't provide any opinion or attitude, but only referred to as information leaving the reader with the ability (and the free will) to create own attitude and conclusions on the basis of information.

As someone has already wrote, I agree that the second part of the book is most interesting because most of the information that can be found there isn't known to the general public, describing all kind of political games the Republican primary candidates were playing to win their nomination, their mutual struggle being sure the fight for the nomination will be more difficult than achieving victory over Obama.

"Double Down" is truly a "everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the U.S. elections-2012" book and a bit more, and as such it can be recommended to all those interested in this political topic, noting that those who are already familiar about it will still find plenty of interesting material, especially in the second part of the book, to justify its reading.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Halperin and Hellemann's book of the 2012 election is forthright and impressive. Many of the big 'takes' have been promoted on their book tours, but there is a great deal of terrific information that is left. For political junkies like me, the inside scoop of what went on in the Obama and Romney's election campaign is stuff to gnaw on. One of the more interesting tidbits is about Christie's vetting for VP with Romney. What Romney's team found was so much negative info that could not and was not explained that Romney knew Christie could never take the heat of a Presidential campaign.

The authors concentrate on Obama's re-election campaign, and in particular his hatred of debates. The Denver debate where he failed, and then onto the rest of the campaign. The high level of good will for the First Lady, Michelle, helped to give her the highest of likability of anyone in the campaign. The finely tuned operation that started in Chicago that made this election so winnable. What did surprise me, and I think it is relevant today, is the lack of really good, close people to surround the President and make sure all of his efforts and policies were on the right track and evolving as they should. Note the ACA disaster, no one seemed to be leading this effort. The President is a great idea man, but he is not one who follows up or leads the policies on-going.

And then there was Mr. Romney . Bill Clinton "remarked to a friend, that, while Mitt was a decent man, he was in the wrong line of work. 'He really shouldn't be speaking to people in public.' ". Time after time, Mitt Romney made such faux pas that showed this man was an elitist. President Obama disliked Romney intensely, and he had difficulty hiding it. The 47% remarks by Romney, really seemed to close his electability. And, even now, he still talks in that manner. His election group were off base, it seems, much of the time. His PAC groups were full of dirty tricks, that were outed and then eliminated. His wife, Anne, seems like a gracious woman who had no clue that the campaign was not going well. The race to the Republican candidacy is closely followed. The line of Republicans who wanted to be President is laughable, and Romney was the best of the group. Big money followed them, but Romney did not have the stuff to be President, and, it seems he knew that all along.

The final days of both campaigns are delineated in great detail. The book is not too unkind except to Bill Daley, Obama's Chief of Staff, but, I wonder if it is the people surrounding the president everyday, like Valerie Jarret, who are causing some of the misery. VP Biden, is as full of gaffs as always. Obama and Biden have a good relationship, but as we have seen before and during the 'shutdown', he was kept as far away from the action as possible. Many Dems in the Senate feel that when he negotiates, he 'gives away the store'. A likable guy, but not someone you want negotiating. I can't wait to read his autobiography, and see how he feels he was treated. Romney's lead man Stuart Stevens, comes off looking clownish at times, and, no one in that campaign had any idea of how the race for Presidency was really going down. It is us, the voters, who doubled down.

Recommended. prisrob 11-07-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2014
Double down excels in depth and is a reminder to why long form retrospective analysis still champs the hash tag generation. (Albeit, they've taken on much of its 'gossipiness'). Their access appears top to bottom with in-sight through both campaigns highs and lows. It's pacey - a gripping read on a topic of interest to politicos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2014
I started reading this book with the feeling that I'd be getting into a partisan account of the 2012 election. On the contrary, I was very much surprised to get through a thoroughly enjoyable and deeply interesting behind-the-scenes narrative on the recent elections. Really captures the emotions and political games behind the election cycle.

Highly reccommended to fellow political junkies!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2014
Clever and insightful analysis of how Romney moved through nomination and then the election race with Obama.

Some clear core themes - Obama's constancy versus Romney's capacity for gaffes, echo throughout the tale, yet get developed and refined as events unfold.

Even though we all know-how the ending, the book targets pace and maintains its grip. The story behind live debates is a strong part of the momentum.

Obviously as an Englishman, I am excluded, but this would be essential reading for a 2016 candidate!
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on 11 April 2015
Once again the boys here written a very interesting book. For those seeking to understand how Obama got elected for the second time then this will deepen your understanding. This book mainly concentrates on the Romney campaign but nevertheless I believe it will improve your understanding about American elections. A good read for those of us who like political books.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 November 2013
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are back with, "Double Down: Game Change 2012" and it is a treat for all you political junkies out there. I had this book on order since the first day it was listed on Amazon, and while the wait was a bit frustrating, the "pay-off" - the book - was worth the wait.

Heilemann and Halperin are good writers. While the book perhaps spends a bit too much time on the Republican primary battle - the least interesting part - they shine when describing the Obama and Romney political campaigns. Starting out in chapter one with the Obama campaign deep, deep worries over Obama's "performance" in the first debate in Denver, the authors go on to reveal how Obama found it very difficult to work out his doubts about the political process he was engaging in to improve his performance in the second debate. These little nuggets are scattered through out the book, giving "Double Down" an honesty and breadth many other political books lack.

If Heilemann and Halperin are good writers, it may be because they're good listeners. They spent hours with hundreds of people; members all the Republican campaigns and the one Democratic campaign. They seemed to know what questions to ask which I think is a skill in itself. I wondered why the usually referred to Rick Santorum as "Santo", which I've never heard him referred to before but I assume some people in the political world called him that or the authors wouldn't have included it in their book. (Thanks god they didn't refer to another nickname applied to Santorum by author Dan Savage!)

Can the casual reader determine from the book the political leanings of the writers by what they write, what they feel is important to include, and what they feel is important to leave out? No. I assume they're Democrats because they're often featured on MSNBC programs, but unless you knew that fact, I don't think you could tell from the two books they produced, this one and "Game Change". They are not "mean" writers; they rather equally talk about both Romney and Obama campaigns and I think their writing tries to show the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, of both campaigns. This isn't to say they used "false equivalencies"; I think they rightly make the point that the Obama campaign was a much better run campaign than the Romney.

"Double Down" - and they explain how that term applies to both campaigns (though differently) - is a fine example of good, impartial reporting. You - the reader - may not agree with what they think important to write about, and might not like what the book contains. But I don't think the reader can fault the writing or the reporting. This is an excellent political book.
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on 5 July 2014
Probably due to the nature of the race, this book isn't quite as engaging as "Race of a Lifetime". But it does give a fascinating insight into the money machine that American politics has become, and how for all the appearances of the political machinations that occur, at the heart of it all are real people with their own strengths and weaknesses trying to navigate their way through a myriad of expectations. It reminds me of Alanis Morrisette's description of fame as something that doesn't really change who you are, but amplifies your various personality traits.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2013
Wonderful, gossipy reading! Few true insights, but glimpses of fact and character that will confirm (or deny?) your judgments about the people and events of the amazing 2012 Presidential Primaries and Election. Highly recommended.
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