The Big Enchilada

The Big Enchilada

by Stuart Stevens
     
 

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Six years ago he owned a baseball team. Now he's the leader of the free world. The Big Enchilada is a comic anthem to the wild and improbable crusade that propelled George W. Bush into the White House and to the close-knit group of Texans who made it happen, written by "the Bush campaign's Renaissance man" (Time magazine).

Writer and political

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Overview

Six years ago he owned a baseball team. Now he's the leader of the free world. The Big Enchilada is a comic anthem to the wild and improbable crusade that propelled George W. Bush into the White House and to the close-knit group of Texans who made it happen, written by "the Bush campaign's Renaissance man" (Time magazine).

Writer and political strategist Stuart Stevens has been hailed by Martin Amis as "the perfect companion: brave, funny, and ever-watchful," and The New Yorker has praised him for having "a wonderful eye for the curiosities of human behavior." Here he tells the surprisingly funny, adrenaline-fueled story of the Bush campaign the public never saw -- from the Austin coffee shop where Stevens watched Karl Rove sketch out the Republican master plan on a napkin to the small Methodist church in Crawford, Texas, where the blue-jeaned future president prepared for the make-or-break debates that no one expected him to win. He offers the inside view of the rise and flameout of maverick John McCain; the struggle to come up with a message that could be heard over a booming economy ("Times have never been better. Vote for change," campaign aides joked); and the fierce debates over the upside and downside of "going negative" against a vulnerable adversary.

Above all, Stevens turns the familiar political tale of disillusionment on its head. From the moment he arrived in Austin to join the campaign -- "Stevens, get in here and let's bond!" the governor said -- he discovered the peculiar pleasure of working with people who not only respected and admired their candidate but actually liked him. They faced formidable obstacles, from a nation surfing a vast wave of peace and prosperity to an experienced opponent whose seasoned advisers bragged that the campaign would be "a slaughterhouse." But Texans, as Stevens learned, are a confident bunch, and the Bush crowd remained convinced they would win the biggest prize of all -- even on the brink of losing. This is the story of what it was like as only an insider could tell it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a typical scene from this entertaining if uncritical insider's account of the 2000 presidential campaign, Stevens and other top George W. Bush aides find themselves puzzling over Gore's demand that no cameras be placed behind him during the debate. "It's so his bald spot won't show," Stevens finally realizes. Everyone chuckles; they eventually acquiesce to Gore's demand, Stevens recalls, in a spirit of "compassionate conservatism." Stevens, one of the nation's top political consultants, was a hired gun from New York who was brought down to Texas by the normally insular Bush team to beef up their media strategy. He crafted TV and radio commercials, scheduled interviews and prepped Bush for debates. None of this might be interesting except to die-hard political junkies, but Stevens is a fluid writer who makes high drama out of even the most banal campaign moments. Equally energizing is Stevens's colorful (some might say vulgar) prose style. He notes, for example, that his primary goal in designing TV spots was to make the Gore campaign "squeal like Ned Beatty in Deliverance"; at the first debate, Stevens observes, Gore's makeup people had their candidate "painted up like a clumsy transvestite." Stevens is unabashedly gung ho about Bush, which might frustrate readers hoping for insider dirt; he also played little part during the post-election Florida crisis, which leaves the book with a vague sense of anticlimax. Nonetheless, Stevens provides insight into the inner workings of the Bush campaign, and gives a marvelous sense of what it's like at the top level of the hectic fight for the White House. (Aug.) Forecast: The inevitable post-election book barrage rolls on, but will readers betired of it by August? Hoping otherwise, Stevens will promote this in N.Y., D.C., Austin and Dallas. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Stevens, one of George W. Bush's top media strategists and author of Malaria Dreams, has written an insider's account of the 2000 presidential race from the perspective of the Bush team. Lively, sometimes funny, and consistently partisan, this book takes the reader from the early days of the Bush campaign, through the contested primaries, to the presidential contest and the dramatic conflict over the Florida ballots that followed. It gives the reader a sense of the decisions and choices that were made and the personalities and character of the participants. This book is best suited to the already converted. Its biting, sometimes nasty tone (I stopped counting how many times the author called Al Gore a liar when I reached double figures) is red meat for Republicans, but other readers may find the voice and message a bit too one-sided. The book's Bush-as-Saint, Gore-as-Satan conceit not only paints an unrealistic picture but detracts from the other interesting and informative elements of this well-written work. Thus, it is less revealing than one has a right to expect from an insider's account. Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743222907
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
08/14/2001
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.94(d)

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