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Patrick AndersonIn his audacious new novel, The Race, Patterson presumes to take us inside the battle-in-progress for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. His candidates aren't named Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Thompson, nor are they necessarily modeled on those gentlemen, but they struggle with the same issues of honor and compromise, the same obsessions with gay rights, stem cell research, abortion, evolution and the role of religion in politics, that bedevil the real-life candidates. All this does not make a pretty picture—Republican partisans may be outraged—but it has a certain train-wreck fascination…The Race is wildly melodramatic, even lurid…All the King's Men it is not. And yet it has the virtue of honesty. The kind of hypocrisy and dirty tricks Patterson writes about are commonplace in today's campaigns. Men who know better do prostitute themselves before Bible-thumping political kingpins. Candidates do sell their souls to win primaries—and, if they're lucky, the White House. This unhappy state of affairs is often reported in nonfiction, but it bears repeating. Perhaps a popular novel can take the message to a larger audience and help elevate the political climate. It's pretty to think so.
—The Washington Post