This shit would be really interesting if we weren t in the middle of it. Barack Obama, September 2008
In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama's partner and America's face to the world. The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin. But despite the wall-to-wall media coverage of this spellbinding drama, remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines has yet been told.
In Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country's leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. How did Obama convince himself that, despite the thinness of his resume, he could somehow beat the odds to become the nation's first African American president? How did the tumultuous relationship between the Clintons shape and warp Hillary's supposedly unstoppable bid? What was behind her husband's furious outbursts and devastating political miscalculations? Why did McCain make the novice governor of Alaska his running mate? And was Palin merely painfully out of her depth or troubled in more serious ways?
Game Change answers those questions and more, laying bare the secret history of the 2008 campaign. Heilemann and Halperin take us inside the Obama machine, where staffers referred to the candidate as Black Jesus. They unearth the quiet conspiracy in the U.S. Senate to prod Obama into the race, driven in part by the fears of senior Democrats that Bill Clinton's personal life might cripple Hillary's presidential prospects. They expose the twisted tale of John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, the truth behind the downfall of Rudy Giuliani, and the doubts of those responsible for vetting Palin about her readiness for the Republican ticket along with the McCain campaign staff's worries about her fitness for office. And they reveal how, in an emotional late-night phone call, Obama succeeded in wooing Clinton, despite her staunch resistance, to become his secretary of state.
Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.
“Everybody talked. Anybody that tells you they didn’t is lying to you.”
-A former top Clinton aide, to Politico’s Ben Smith
“A fascinating account. . . . Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations. . . . Game Change 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
“Riveting. . . . Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits. . . . This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign. . . . And it doesn’t hurt that Game Change reads more bodice-ripper than Beltway.”
-Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly
“A smoking new book. . . . The real revelation in Game Change: Campaigns turn our politicians into lunatics.”
-Tina Brown, The Daily Beast
“I can’t put down this book!”
“The hottest book in the country.”
-The Associated Press
“You’ve got to read Game Change. . . . I read each and every word. . . . Game Change is a great book.”
“Compulsively readable. Once begun, you can’t put it down. . . . Deeply and knowledgeably reported and presented with all the cool sophistication one would expect from two accomplished political reporters.”
-Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times
“The authors of Game Change succeed in creating a plausible account of the emotional tumult of the 2008 campaign as it might have been—perhaps even was—experienced by the candidates, their spouses, and their staffs.”
-Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker
“Heilemann and Halperin have conducted hundreds of interviews to provide the inside story of the 2008 campaign. . . . It vividly shows how character flaws large and small caused Obama’s opponents to self-destruct.”
-Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review
“A thoroughly researched, well-paced and occasionally very amusing read. . . . The result is something that conveys the feel, or perhaps more accurately the smell, of one of recent history’s most thrilling elections, and it does so better than any of the other books already on the market.”
“The best presidential political book since What it Takes by Richard Ben Cramer and Teddy White’s books. These are the types of books that got me into politics.”
“An explosive new book. . . . An absolute page turner.”
-Soledad O’Brien on Larry King Live
“Riveting, definitive. . . . A great campaign book. . . . Halperin and Heilemann got insiders to cough up astonishing artifacts, including emails and recordings. . . . Game Change is really interesting, and puts you deep in the middle of it.”
-Kurt Andersen, Very Short List
“An amazing piece of work. . . . One of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22. . . . An absolutely gripping read . . . they can write.”
-Clive Crook, The Financial Times