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Trail Fever, Spin Doctors, Rented Strangers, Thumb Westlers (Borzoi book) Hardcover – 1 Jan 1997

3.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679446605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679446606
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 17.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A fresh, hilarious must read... ["Losers"] is a winner."- "Time
""Hilarious, genuinely funny, and insightful, the work of a truly gifted writer."- "The Wall Street Journal
""A great book... Hilarious, unsettling... [and] wonderfully observed."- Dave Eggers, "Salon
""Unveils the pomposities and absurdities of spinning campaign life with wit and restraint, with a touch, in other words, that is all the more devastating for its lightness."- "Newsday" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

A wickedly funny and astute chronicle of the 1996 presidential campaign--and how we go about choosing our leaders at the turn of the century. In it Michael Lewis brings to the political scene the same brilliance that distinguished his celebrated best-seller about the financial world, Liar's Poker.
Beginning with the primaries, Lewis traveled across America--a concerned citizen who happened to ride in candidates' airplanes (as well as rented cars in blinding New Hampshire blizzards) and write about their adventures. Among the contenders he observed: Pat Buchanan, a walking tour of American anger; Lamar Alexander, who appealed to people who pretend to be nice to get ahead; Steve Forbes, frozen in a smile and refusing to answer questions about his father's motorcycles; Alan Keyes, one of the great political speakers of our age, whom no one has ever heard of; Morry Taylor--"the Grizz"--the hugely successful businessman who became the refreshing embodiment of ordinary Americans' appetites and ambitions; Bob Dole, a man who set out to prove he would never be president; and Bill Clinton, the big snow goose who flew too high to be shot out of the sky.
We watch the cliches of this peculiar subculture collide with characters from the real world: a pig farmer in Iowa; an evangelical preacher in Colorado Springs; a homeless person in Manhattan; a prospective illegal immigrant in Mexico. The politicians speak and speak, often reversing positions, denying direct quotations, mastering the sound bite, dodging hard questions, wreaking havoc on the English language. Spin doctors spin. Rented strangers (campaign workers) proliferate. One particular toe sucker goes awry. Ads are honed tomisrepresent and distort. Money makes the world go round.
And the citizens are left dumbfounded or cheering empty platitudes. When trail fever breaks on Election Day, half of America's eligible voters stay home.
This book offers a striking look at us and our politics and the mammoth unlikelihood of connection between the inauthentic modern candidate and the voter's passions, needs, and desires. In telling the story, Michael Lewis once again proves himself a masterful observer of the American scene. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on 23 Aug. 1998
Format: Hardcover
Some of the reviewers on this page have lambasted Lewis for not taking the campaign seriously enough. Come on guys!!! Have you ever READ any of Michael's previous books? This book was not meant to be a serious in-depth analysis of the campaign. That's what we have people like George Will and Bob Woodward for. Sure, Lewis focused time on Morry Taylor, an unknown. However, the parts about the Grizzz were the most enjoyable of the book. I didn't care about the candidates when they were running, so why the hell would I want to read about them now.
Lewis has truly captured the absurdity of the whole election year process. Pointing out how the only true candidate to speak freely (Taylor) got killed early on, as oppossed to the scripted efforts of the other candidates, was a sad reflection on how Americans are buying into the dog and pony shows as oppossed to ideas.
Read this book for a light hearted, enjoyable view of the 1996 campaign. If you want serious, this is not the place to be.
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By A Customer on 5 Nov. 1997
Format: Hardcover
While I concur with most of the comments above, I must dissent on one point. While a fascinating story teller, Mr. Lewis seemed to forget the point of the book: Following the political nominating process from start to finish, commenting about the democratic process writ large. He begins this task skillfully, reciting wonderful anectodes about each candidate as they trudged across Iowa and New Hampshire. A third of the way through, however, Mr. Lewis became increasingly -- almost disturbingly -- obsessed with Morrey Taylor, tire maven and political idiot savant. To be sure, Mr. Taylor never rose above the level of a joke, but nonetheless, Mr. lewis focused on him like he was the next Jack Kennedy, chronicling his almost every move while ignoring the real dynamic at work -- Pat Buchanan's upset victory in New Hampshire. I believe Mr. Lewis spent about 30 pages on the grizz, while synopsizing the significance of Buchanan's New Hampshire victory in about three sentences. The real drama of the 1996 primary season was not so much the Talyors, Dornan's Keyes et al, but rather Buchanan, Dole and Forbes. By the looks of it, this simple fact was lost on Mr. Lewis. Perpahs the "Grizz" and his collection of side kicks proved more entertaining, but certainly his impact on electoral politics is negligible at best. Buchanan was the first Republican to ever with the New Hampshire primary and fail to win the nomination: Now that is news. That was the real story. Not the Grizz. Mr. Lewis should be commended on his persistence and keen story telling ability, but he should be scolded for taking his eye of the ball. Go Pat Go.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a political junkie and proud of it. I also live in Iowa and get a great chance to meet presidential candidates. I love to read books about campaigns, particularly campaigns with which I have some familiarity. This book was great! I loved his anecdotes about the campaigns. I was suprised at how much I agreed with his conclusions about campaigns and candidates today. He rightly observes that the people who would make the best presidents really don't have a chance - that it is the drive to campaign constantly and a skill at campaigning and sound bites that really determines elections today. Sad, but true. Lewis properly characterizes Dole and his campaign. It was fated from the start when Dole had tremendous support from governors, but no one was excited about Dole. Even Dole wasn't excited about Dole. And the rented strangers certainly weren't. The only thing I haven't yet come to grips with is his portrayal of Lamar Alexander, my favorite. I just think Lamar can't really be as evil as Lewis portrays him.
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Format: Hardcover
This highly entertaining and intelligent accountof the '96 Presidential campaign is a fun and breezy read yet the nonchalant tone hides a sharp and perceptive view of American politics at the end of a century.The author draws you in saying, hey, I've never done this before, I know nothing about campaigns, but so? A quarter into the book I found myself laughing,smiling and enjoying the characterizations of the candidates and events, especially funny as they probably happened. The writer doesn't take himself too seriously while conveying a sense that it's possible to glimpse the real person behind the candidate if you manage to get close. This adds strength and depth to the story. Who hasn't said "politicians?they're all the same".Yet we know that isn't really true. There is a sense that the subjects are approached honestly,without prejudice resulting in descriptions thankfully void of cliches.
Did Steve Forbes really learn his lines by rote then never, ever strayed even when (or if) caught off guard? He did.And he didn't. Did Bob Dole's "rented strangers"-handlers hide him for fear that the American people would see the "real" Bob Dole, the one he so often referred to "Bob Dole keeps his word...Bob Dole'll win big time." Was Morry Taylor "The Grizz" the only real American in this campaign,the one who's made his money the American way thus freeing him from having "middle class" manners but not from the guilt that appears to pull so many moneyed individuals into politics. I'm giving something back!Here, a few million dollars of MY OWN MONEY in exchange for office!But the landscape is not complete without persons such as Senator John McCain.
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