Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House [NOOK Book]

Overview

   Michael Lewis is a master at dissecting the absurd: after skewering Wall Street in his national bestseller Liar's Poker, he packed his mighty pen and set out on the 1996 campaign trail.  As he follows the men who aspire to the Oval Office, Lewis discovers an absurd mix of bravery and backpedaling, heroic possibility and mealy-mouthed sound bytes, and a process so ridiculous and unsavory that it leaves him wondering if ...

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Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House

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Overview

   Michael Lewis is a master at dissecting the absurd: after skewering Wall Street in his national bestseller Liar's Poker, he packed his mighty pen and set out on the 1996 campaign trail.  As he follows the men who aspire to the Oval Office, Lewis discovers an absurd mix of bravery and backpedaling, heroic possibility and mealy-mouthed sound bytes, and a process so ridiculous and unsavory that it leaves him wondering if everyone involvedfrom the journalists to the candidates to the people who votedisn't ultimately a loser.

The contenders:

Pat Buchanan:  becomes the first politician ever to choose a black hat over a white one.

Phil Gramm: spends twenty million dollars to convince voters of his fiscal responsibility.

John McCain: makes the fatal mistake of actually speaking his mind.

Alan Keyes: checks out of a New Hampshire hotel and tells the manager another candidate will be paying his bill.

Steve Forbes: refuses to answer questions about his father's motorcycles.

Bob Dole: marches through the campaign without ever seeming to care.

   Losers is a wickedly funny, unflinching look at how America really goes about choosing a President.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

David Eggers
Terrible title for a great book. Trail Fever? Hardly. Michael Lewis' account of the 1996 Presidential campaign is anything but feverish. Bemused maybe. Hilarious, unsettling, absurd even. But not feverish. In the book, collected from the journal he kept for the New Republic, Lewis takes the stance of a detached, bewildered outsider, interested less in who wins the race than why the candidates run in the first place. "A serious Presidential campaign is no place for anyone who cares about anything," he writes, setting the stage for the exit, one by one, of all the candidates with conviction.

On the campaign trail, Lewis is helplessly drawn to the also-rans, particularly the truly hopeless ones. He's fascinated by their oddness, their idiosyncrasies, the hopes/dreams/delusions/Messianic complexes that spur them to torture themselves and their followers and to spend tens of millions of other people's dollars. He is in awe of the eloquent but perhaps unstable Christian moralist Alan Keyes ("What he and his followers want is not to be elected but to be among the elect"); respects the unwavering zeal of Pat Buchanan ("like all romantics, he is more deeply attracted to failure than to success"); and is fascinated by the quixotic puzzle that is Ralph Nader ("The impulse to suppress appetites and sympathies in the name of principle is the mark of a radical").

But Lewis reserves his greatest affection -- what amounts to little short of an outright endorsement, really -- for Morry Taylor, a tire industry mogul who spent 6 or 7 million dollars of his own money to throw his hat in the ring. Because he speaks his mind and is beholden to no one, Taylor (who insists on calling himself "The Grizz") becomes the book's most compelling character. Even after Taylor withdraws from the race, Lewis finds himself repeatedly abandoning the campaign to find out what Morry's up to. Their relationship, and Lewis' role as objective recorder of events, etc., takes an odd turn when Taylor, obligated to speak at a gathering of manufacturing executives the same day he's to have tests done on his liver, asks Lewis to fill in for him and read his speech. In a decision that illustrates how unconventional Lewis' approach is to his job, Lewis flies to Palm Springs and does it. "This is the natural conclusion of politics; the follower seeks to meld himself into the leader. When he appears onstage or on television George Stephanopoulos becomes Bill Clinton. I have become Morry Taylor."

Written in diary form, Trail Fever is loosely gathered but wonderfully observed. And although Lewis is savvy and superficially cynical, the great thing about seeing the campaign through his eyes is how closely he mirrors the American electorate in his aching desire to believe -- in anything. And this is why he's attracted to the outsiders. "The Outsider is by nature indiscreet, unstable and risk loving ... To succeed an Outsider must grab for what he knows he cannot have. He'll probably never get it, but he might knock it loose so that someone else will, one day."

Word is that the original title of Lewis' book was Losers, scrapped for marketing reasons by the folks at Knopf. (No one wants to read about losers, right?) Too bad, but also sort of fitting: The title of a book about how the selling of candidates strips them of their integrity was watered down because it wouldn't sell. Politics as usual, no? -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the overstuffed subtitle, this book stands as the best tale of the 1996 Presidential campaign, partly because traditional inside-the-campaign stories often lack revelation and insight. Taking off from his New Republic dispatches, Lewis (Liar's Poker) brings home the craziness, such as the New Hampshire primary, where every citizen "must be thoroughly sucked up to." He wrings telling insights about the campaign from excursions with Ralph Nader, who speaks of "active citizens" to a student audience, or when he recounts the only non-scripted speech at the Democratic convention, as Jesse Jackson reminded the audience of the "canyon of welfare and despair." Lewis covers his bases with Clinton and Dole, for example, wittily dissecting campaign conventions like the media visit to Dole's hometown of Russell, KS. But he closes with sobering thoughts on the banality of current media-driven campaigns: "You can't legislate more critical citizens or greater expectations. All you can do is howl and hope others will join in."
Library Journal
Journalist Lewis's (Liar's Poker) chronicle of the 1996 Presidential campaign examines the battle for the Republican Party nomination and the following general election. It differs from most campaign books in that its perspective is "from the bottom of the political food chain." Lewis argues that the leading candidates were so preoccupied with risk-avoidance that they failed to address important concerns of the electorate. This meant that to the extent such matters were addressed at all, it was by the lesser candidates. Therefore, Lewis devotes more attention to such minor Republican candidates as Alan Keyes and Morry Taylor and to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader than to Clinton and Dole. His book is not comprehensive, but it provides a frequently humorous and occasionally insightful look into contemporary electoral politics for lay readers. -- Thomas H. Ferrell, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Library Journal
Journalist Lewis's (Liar's Poker) chronicle of the 1996 Presidential campaign examines the battle for the Republican Party nomination and the following general election. It differs from most campaign books in that its perspective is "from the bottom of the political food chain." Lewis argues that the leading candidates were so preoccupied with risk-avoidance that they failed to address important concerns of the electorate. This meant that to the extent such matters were addressed at all, it was by the lesser candidates. Therefore, Lewis devotes more attention to such minor Republican candidates as Alan Keyes and Morry Taylor and to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader than to Clinton and Dole. His book is not comprehensive, but it provides a frequently humorous and occasionally insightful look into contemporary electoral politics for lay readers. -- Thomas H. Ferrell, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Newsday
Trail Fever 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.
The Wall Street Journal
Hilarious, genuinely funny, and insightful, the work of a truly gifted writer, assuring Mr. Lewis well-deserved hegemony in the titanic struggle to capture the Clinton era.
Kirkus Reviews
Bestselling author Lewis (Liar's Poker, 1989) applies his sense of humor to a subject that really needs it: the 1996 Presidential campaign. To escape the boring but politically prudent staged events offered by the Clinton and Dole campaigns, Lewis focuses on the secondary players. This draws him to candidates like Morry Taylor, who responds to the challenge of hosting a reception at the Republican National Convention with a motorcycle rally featuring 7,000 Republicans on Harleys, and Alan Keyes, whose verbal virtuosity makes Lewis a (temporary) believer every time he speaks, despite suspicions that Keyes might have a screw loose somewhere. Among non-candidates there are the spin doctors and "rented strangers"—professional campaign operatives—as well as Senator John McCain, whose "alarming preference for the truth" so disorients Lewis that it becomes difficult for him to function as a journalist. Please note: The purpose here is not to explain why Dole lost and Clinton won. In an era where major American Presidential candidates are congenitally allergic to reality, taking them and their campaigns at face value reveals little. By setting aside the official stories concocted by rented strangers and disseminated by the mainstream press, yet avoiding the automatic cynicism of the professional critic, Lewis conveys a sense of what is really going on. His lack of enthusiasm for a campaign (Dole's) that "plans its trips to the bathroom four days before it goes" is easy to understand, regardless of one's politics, and his recognition that Americans' indifference to electoral politics is a sensible response to "this crap" is oddly optimistic: The people are sane evenif our leaders are not. Written with Hunter S. Thompson's eye for the revealing detail but without his self-indulgence, and with Mark Russell's facility with one-liners but without his superficiality, this is a book to be enjoyed.
From the Publisher

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307426680
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Series: Vintage
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 253,335
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Michael  Lewis

Michael Lewis pursued a career on Wall Street for several years until he left to write a book about it—Liar's Poker.  He is also the author of The Money Culture and The New New Thing.  A regular columnist for The New York Times Magazine, he has been a senior editor at The New Republic, as well as the American editor of The Spectator. He grew up in New Orleans and now lives in Paris, France.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

Biography

Twenty-four year-old Princeton graduate Michael Lewis had recently received his master's degree from the London School of Economics when Salomon Brothers hired him as a bond salesman in 1985. He moved to New York for training and witnessed firsthand the cutthroat, scruple-free culture that was Wall Street in the 1980s. Several months later, armed only with what he'd learned in training, Lewis returned to London and spent the next three years dispensing investment advice to Salomon's well-heeled clientele. He earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and survived a 1987 hostile takeover attempt at the firm. Nonetheless, he grew disillusioned with his job and left Salomon to write an account of his experiences in the industry. Published in 1989, Liar's Poker remains one of the best written and most perceptive chronicles of investment banking and the appalling excesses of an era.

Since then, Lewis has found great success as a financial journalist and bestselling author. His nonfiction ranges over a variety of topics, including U.S./Japanese business relations (Pacific Rift), the 1996 presidential campaign (Trail Fever), Silicon Valley (The New New Thing), and the Internet boom (Next: The Future Just Happened). He investigated the economics of professional sports in Moneyball (2003) and The Blind Side (2006); and, in 2008, he edited Panic, an anthology of essays about the major financial crises of 1990s and early "oughts."

Good To Know

Michael Lewis attended Isidore Newman School in his native New Orleans, LA -- a private college prep school that counts among its more distinguished alumni historian Walter Isaacson, children's book author Mo Willems, singer Harry Connick, Jr., and famous pro-football siblings Peyton and Eli Manning.
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    1. Date of Birth:
      October 15, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      New Orleans, LA
    1. Education:
      Princeton University, B.A. in Art History, 1982; London School of Economics, 1985

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Andrea

    Ayee wassup so w.t.f. is beencha

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2003

    This book is bangin'!

    This book is HILARIOUS-- the author is so funny... he's got great political insight too of course! Anyone remotely interested in politics will enjoy this! It's absolutely great... three thumbs up!

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