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

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Harper Collins, Jan 11, 2010 - History - 448 pages

“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 résumé, 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.


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User Review  - Eye_Gee - LibraryThing

Talk about being a fly on the wall.... This book was fascinating. It tells the stories of the three main presidential contenders in 2008: Obama, Hillary Clinton and McCain, with a little bit about ... Read full review

Best Political Book ever

User Review  - Karen l. -

All the inside info on the 2008 election. . . from the primaries to the ultimate McCain booboo when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. A must read. Read full review


ChaPteR eleven Fear and Loathing in the Lizards
ChaPteR twelve Pulling Away and Falling Apart
ChaPteR thiRteen Obama Agonistes
ChaPteR fOuRteen The Bitter End Game
ChaPteR fifteen The Maverick and His Meltdown
ChaPteR sixteen Running Unopposed
ChaPteR seventeen Slipping Nooses Slaying Demons
ChaPteR eiGhteen Paris and Berlin
ChaPteR nineteen The MileHigh Club
ChaPteR twenty Sarahcuda
ChaPteR twentythRee The Finish Line
Together at Last

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About the author (2010)

John Heilemann, national political correspondent and columnist for New York, is an award-winning journalist and the author of Pride Before the Fall: The Trials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era.

Mark Halperin is editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time. He is also senior political analyst for MSNBC, the author of The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President, and the co-author of The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008.

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