Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

In This Review

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
By John Heilemann, Mark Halperin
HarperCollins, 2010
464 pp. $27.99
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Assuming its sourcing holds up, this compulsively readable account of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign will set a new standard for political journalism. Fast paced, detailed, and intelligently organized, Game Change not only reveals the inner deliberations of the leading candidates and their teams during one of the country's most remarkable presidential campaigns; it illuminates the state of American democracy and perhaps even of the American soul. The portraits of the Clintons are riveting. The dysfunctional and deeply flawed Edwardses are flayed and filleted. And the two most meteoric figures in the campaign, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, are beautifully portrayed in all their complexity. Reading the book so long after the campaign is a bittersweet experience. As Obama has now settled into the harsh task of governing, some of the promise and appeal he displayed as a candidate now seems far away. In any case, if the health of American democracy is in question at the moment, Heilemann and Halperin demonstrate that the art of political journalism is flourishing as never before.