Customer Review

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Five star research, one star presentation, 17 Feb 2010
This review is from: Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House (Hardcover)
Before reading this, I'd heard it was going to be THE book against which all others on the 2008 US presidential campaign would be measured. If so, I'm afraid the bar has been set rather low.

The problem is not content. The hype surrounding Race of a Lifetime included a claim that Heilemann and Halperin had amassed a vast and varied body of research, based on interviews with people who saw the inside of all the candidacies that really mattered in 2008. It does deliver that. There are juicy quotes by the bucket throughout the book, and plenty of glimpses at what the candidates really looked and talked like when the cameras were turned off. No, the problem is in the presentation. Most high school students probably could have produced more articulate prose. A book that uses words like "freakin'" and devices such as calling a candidate's health care plan "weak beer" simply doesn't deserve to be treated like a serious study of anything.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Heilemann and Halperin also tend to assume prior knowledge where they shouldn't, noting ominously at one point that Obama's campaign was in danger of "ending up like McGovern or Dukakis" without explaining who they were or why that would be a bad thing. True, most readers who are likely to be attracted to this book will already know exactly what that means, but a brief explanation is warranted (and would have been extremely easy to add). Their vaunted research also has a few gaping holes in it: in discussing the vice presidential debate, they depict it as a draw with no disastrous missteps on Sarah Palin's part, even as they address and explain Palin's notorious "Can I call ya Joe?" moment. Besides failing to acknowledge that as the disrespectful swipe it was, they also do not mention at all her numerous other garbled, empty responses during the debate.

The cynic in me wonders if this is just a book-length parody of Palin's irreverent style. That, I would give five stars.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2010 15:56:00 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 15:56:42 BDT
Sam Quixote says:
They don't depict the vice-presidential debate as a draw, they just said that both candidates were known for verbal gaffes and that neither said anything stupid during the debate. They also acknowledge that Biden had more to lose as he was so knowledgeable and experienced while Palin was an amateur whose expectations were subterranean.

And as for the "Can I call ya Joe"? moment, she was advised to ask that as during prep she kept referring to him as "Senator Obiden". It was so she wouldn't make a fool of herself by calling him that (although she did say "Obiden" once anyway).
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