The Price of Politics

( 57 )

Overview


Like his twelve #1 national bestsellers from All the President's Men to Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward's new book takes us inside the rooms where the nation's business is negotiated at the highest levels.
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Overview


Like his twelve #1 national bestsellers from All the President's Men to Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward's new book takes us inside the rooms where the nation's business is negotiated at the highest levels.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A highly detailed dissection of the debt-limit negotiations. … A remarkable achievement. …Woodward, being Woodward, digs deeper and draws more out of the protagonists than anyone else has.” —Jeff Shesol, The Washington Post

"Groundbreaking" —David Gregory, NBC's Meet the Press

"Takes us inside the room once again." —Charlie Rose

"Fabulous book and great reporting." —Norah O'Donnell, CBS This Morning

“Bob Woodward, in characteristic fashion, does his competitors one better by filling in blanks and providing even finer detail.” —Miranda Green, The Daily Beast

"A book everyone is talking about." —Diane Sawyer, ABC

"A very revealing, insightful book." —Sean Hannity, Fox News, "Hannity"

"Required Reading" —Elizabeth Titus, Politico

“Almost every bookshelf in the U.S. capital holds a thin volume called 13 Days, Robert F. Kennedy’s account of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Memo to Washington: Make room on those shelves for Bob Woodward’s latest behind-the-scenes book, The Price of Politics, which might as well have been called 44 Days. The centerpiece is a riveting account of the tedious negotiations to reach a ‘grand bargain’ on the federal budget.” —David M. Shirbman, Bloomberg Businessweek

Kirkus Reviews
A reconstruction of how Republican brinkmanship threatened to bring down the global economy by forcing a U.S. debt default. Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post editor Woodward (Obama's Wars, 2010, etc.) chronicles how Republicans used a previously routine vote on increasing the debt ceiling to blackmail President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Emboldened by their midterm victory in 2010, the Republicans aimed to force the president to accept major cuts to the budget and entitlements while holding the line on taxes. In explaining this display of brinkmanship, Woodward explains that for the U.S. president, default was not an option and could in fact bring down the entire global economy. The action takes place in the summer of 2011, beginning with a failed attempt by the White House to craft a workable deal in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner. When these negotiations collapsed, the entire political leadership of both parties was brought in, leading to recriminations on all sides. The debt ceiling was raised but at the cost of a January fiscal cliffhanger. Although the author faults both Boehner and the president for their "fixed partisan convictions and dogmas," his main purpose appears to be to discredit Obama. He compares him unfavorably to former Presidents Reagan and Clinton, both of whom handled similar crises. Although admitting that "Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition," Woodward faults him for being both arrogant and inept at building political consensus. An occasionally intriguing look into political grappling at the highest level but mostly an exercise in excruciating detail, most of which boils down to trivial political gossip.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451651102
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 539,864
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-one years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for The Washington Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored twelve #1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He has two daughters, Tali and Diana, and lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, writer Elsa Walsh.

Biography

Perhaps the only journalist who can claim to feature both Judy Belushi and Ronald and Nancy Reagan on his list of enemies, Washington Post editor and Watergate watchdog Bob Woodward is famously (purposefully?) a lightning rod for criticism. Woodward raises as many eyebrows for his anonymous sourcing as he summons applause for his scorched-earth approach in interviewing masses of people for every project; the extensive information he digs up is held in awe, yet greetings from the nation's book critics and journalists don't always read like love letters. Joan Didion, in the pages of The New York Review of Books called The Choice, his account of the 1996 presidential campaign, "political pornography."

The New Republic opened its review of The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House by pleading with readers not to buy the book. Frank Rich, the opinion columnist for The New York Times, said that Woodward's book Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate should have instead been entitled All the Presidents Stink, since none of the nation's post-Watergate presidents seemed able to withstand the author's tut-tutting over minor peccadilloes.

For the record, Judy Belushi objected to what she called Woodward's overly negative portrait of husband John's drug use and lifestyle excesses in the 1984 biography Wired, and the Reagans didn't like what he had to say about deceased CIA Director William Casey in Veil.

Still, Woodward delivers the goods.

On the job for nine months as a night cops reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Woodward lucked into the petty crime of the century: the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex. Woodward and reporter Carl Bernstein's investigation reached the highest levels of the Nixon White House, and has become a template for investigative journalism ever since. Thousands of students have poured out of journalism schools in the ensuing years -- for better or worse -- sniffing the winds for their own private Watergate.

Woodward himself hasn't found it, but he has maintained a reputation as the investigator within American journalism, often winning unparalleled access to his subjects and developing a reputation for almost manic multiple-fact-checking of information. After turning the Watergate story into the book and film All the President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein -- or "Woodstein," as they became known in the Post's newsroom -- collaborated on a second book, The Final Days, a look at the end of the Nixon presidency. In 1979, Woodward cast his glance around Washington and found The Brethren, an inside look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court, this time with co-author Scott Armstrong.

Aside from the Belushi biography, Woodward has stuck to the political. He went inside the Clinton White House with The Agenda, inside the CIA with Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (raising questions about his mysterious hospital interview with a groggy Bill Casey) and inside the 1996 Clinton-Dole duel for the presidency in The Choice.

Woodward is the only author to publish four books on a sitting president during the president's time in office. He spent more time than any other journalist or author interviewing President Bush on the record -- a total of nearly 11 hours in six separate sessions from 2001 to 2008.

His four books on President George W. Bush are Bush at War (2002), about the response to 9/11 and the initial invasion of Afghanistan; Plan of Attack (2004), on how and why Bush decided to invade Iraq; State of Denial (2006), about Bush's refusal to acknowledge for nearly three years that the Iraq war was not going well as violence and instability reached staggering levels; and The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (2008), about the deep divisions and misunderstandings on war strategy between the civilians and the military as the president finally decided to add 30,000 troops in a surge.

In every case, Woodward digs deep. And it all started when he was a teenager, working one summer as a janitor in his father's law office in Wheaton, Ill. He made his way through the papers in his father's desk, his father's partner's desk and the files in the attic.

"I looked up all my classmates and their families, and there were IRS audits or divorces or grand juries that did not lead to indictment," he told U.S. News and World Report in 2002. "It was a cold shower to see that the disposed files contained the secret lives of many of the people in this perfect town and showed they weren't perfect."

Good To Know

Richard Nixon said his wife, Pat, had a stroke while reading the Woodward and Bernstein book Final Days.

Woodward once briefly dated reporter Leslie Stahl, who also covered the Watergate story, even to the point of following John Dean into a men's room to continue questioning him.

He voted for Richard Nixon.
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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 26, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Geneva, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1965

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

The lavish dinner at the Capital Hilton Hotel in downtown Washington on the evening of Saturday, March 11, 2006, was about the last place you would expect to find him. But there was Barack Obama, age 44, the junior senator from Illinois for only the last 14 months, in formal white-tie with tails and very much at ease in the crowd of 600. His trademark smile, broad and infectious, dominated his face as I met him for the first time.

We were at the annual Gridiron Club dinner—a rite of passage for national political figures such as Obama. The crowd included President George W. Bush and most of the major politicians in Washington. It was one of Senator Obama’s maiden voyages into the unsavory belly of the Washington beast. Bush was to speak for the Republicans, and Obama had been selected to speak for the Democrats.

Founded in 1885, the Gridiron—named because its motto was to “singe but not burn”—had the reputation of being an old-school event of in-jokes, skits and music that seemed more fitted to a bygone era.

“You’re from Wheaton, Illinois,” Obama said to me, referring, unprompted, to the small town where I was raised in the late 1940s and ’50s. Wheaton, 25 miles west of Chicago, is home to Wheaton College, best known for its alumnus evangelist Billy Graham, whose influence permeated the town.

“I’ll bet you didn’t carry Wheaton,” I said confidently, referring to his Senate race 16 months earlier. A bastion of Midwestern conservatism and country-club Republicans, Wheaton was the most Republican town in the country in the 1950s, or at least regarded itself that way.

“I carried DuPage County by 60 percent!” Obama responded, beaming that incandescent smile. Wheaton is the county seat of DuPage.

I said that seemed utterly impossible. That couldn’t be the Wheaton or DuPage I had known.

Obama continued to smile me down. The certainty on his face was deep, giving me pause. Suddenly, I remembered that Obama’s opponent for the Senate seat had been Alan Keyes, the conservative black Republican gadfly. Keyes had substituted at the last minute for the first Republican nominee, who withdrew from the race when divorce and child custody records revealed that he had taken his wife to sex clubs in New York, New Orleans and Paris.

“Well, everyone who runs for office should have Alan Keyes as their opponent,” I said, trying to hold my ground.

Obama smiled some more—almost mirthful, yet unrevealing. The conversation turned to Illinois politics, and Obama ticked off the areas where he had strong support—Chicago, the labor unions—and weak support, downstate and the farm areas. He defined the categories skillfully, expanding on the state’s interest groups and voting blocs. He made it clear he knew where he had work to do.

He sounded like a graceful old-fashioned pol. Though he had carried DuPage by 60 percent, he had won 70 percent of the statewide vote.

His wife, Michelle, stood by his side in a stunning gown. But the focus and the questions from people crowded around were all directed at the dazzling new star.

• • •

When he appeared at the podium several hours later, Obama stood perfectly erect, projecting radiant confidence.

“This is a true story,” he said.1 “A friend sent me a clip about a new study by a psychologist at the University of Scotland who says sex before a public speaking engagement actually enhances your oratorical power. I showed this clip to Michelle, before we arrived here tonight. She looked it over, handed it back and said, ‘Do the best you can!’ ”

The laughter ignited instantly.

“This appearance is really the capstone of an incredible 18 months,” he said, citing the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, cover of Newsweek, a best-selling autobiography, Dreams from My Father, a Grammy award for reading the audiobook. “Really what else is there to do? Well, I guess . . . I could pass a law or something.”

The self-deprecation played well.

Referring to Senator John McCain’s positive treatment by the press up to that point, Obama said, “Some of my colleagues call John a prima donna. Me? I call him a role model. Think of it as affirmative action. Why should the white guys be the only ones who are overhyped?”

The self-awareness played smooth.

Noting the speculation that the 2008 presidential campaign could come down to McCain, a maverick Republican, versus Senator Hillary Clinton, he said, “People don’t realize how much John and Hillary have in common. They’re both very smart. Both very hardworking. And they’re both hated by the Republicans!”

This played bipartisan.

Obama turned toward President Bush, who was on the stage nearby. “The president was so excited about Tom Friedman’s book The World Is Flat. As soon as he saw the title, he said, ‘You see, I was right!’ ”

The joke played confident.

“I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you’ve given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we’ll let you know.”

The audience clapped and hooted in delight.

After dinner the buzz was like a chain reaction. Not only could this young Obama tell a joke on himself, with the required self-effacement, but he had remarkable communications skills. An editor at The Washington Post once said that journalists only write two stories: Oh, the horror of it all, and Oh, the wonder of it all. Obama was the wonder of it all that night and he basked in the attention he had captured. Rarely have I seen anyone manage the moment so well. He had frankly and forthrightly trumpeted his lack of accomplishment, and the roomful of egos ate it up. But if he had done nothing much so far, why was he there? Why the buzz? The approbation? What exactly was being measured?

It was the dramatic impact he was having on his audience. The triumph was the effect.

Twenty-five years earlier in 1981, I had attended a Gridiron dinner where the speaker for the Democrats was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the bookish intellectual who had served in prominent posts in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Moynihan, then 53, made some good jokes, but his theme was serious: what it means to be a Democrat. The soul of the party was to fight for equality and the little guy, he said. The party cared for the underdogs in America, the voiceless, powerless and those who got stepped on. It was a defining speech, and the buzz afterward was that Moynihan was going to be president. He wasn’t, of course. That was then, this was now.

Obama had not once mentioned the party or high purpose. His speech, instead, was about Obama, his inexperience, and, in the full paradox of the moment, what he had not done.

Two and a half years later, he was president-elect of the United States.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

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(22)

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(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    On the brink or an economic crisis that would have affected the

    On the brink or an economic crisis that would have affected the global economy. How many people actually knew that this was an economic Cuban Missile Crisis. A total systemic failure to cooperate and last minute posturing almost sent us into a financial tail spin. how could President Obama suddenly make an 11th hour demand for more money? How could the Republic Leadership simply not return a phone call to even say "no". I hope that more people read this book and demand that congress resolve the budget next year. Otherwise, none of us will be able to afford to purchase the sequel to this book.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Eye opening!

    Eye opening!

    7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Great read

    A truly come to Jesus moment!

    6 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2012

    Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama

    Not much insight here on the influence these two women must have had over President Obama during these interactions. They had great influence over Mr. Obama's life before he had the presidency. How can this book be complete without that dynamic. Maybe Bob Woodward plans to write "All the President's Woman" and do some real investigative repoting of the old Woodward and Bernstein days. You bet if Obama was a republican, it would have been done in this book. In fact, as I write this review, I give two not three stars.

    4 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Sobering Account

    Well detailed book that provides insight into an account that is being replayed today. Echoes the observation that Washington is more characterized by style than substance and that brinksmanship is important than bipartisnship governance.

    Details are a bit numbing and hard to really digest in the page by page, meeting by meeting description, but the macro overview perspective provided is captivating.

    Worth reading to learn about 'players' pivotal to the transpiring events you 'never heard of'. Joe Biden was a particularly riveting player to read about. He is a figure of gravitas and significance that the headlines don't capture and appreciate.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    Classic Bob Woodward - good read

    Bob Woodward makes you feel like you are sitting at the negotiating table with many of the key players in the book. He has tremendous sources, which the President even cited in an interview with Bob for "Obama's War" in which he said something to the affect that BW had better sources then the President.

    The negotiations are very intriguing and give you some insight into the key differences between the messaging war which went on simultaneous to the negotiations. It could be dry with all the different numbers going back and forth if you are not into that but overall a great book. It certainly revealed that Obama is no Bill Clinton and I think Biden could have hammered out a deal better despite being perceived as inept.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    A Fair Treatment

    While dry reading in some places. It seems to be a fair and balanced look at what happened behind the scenes. Neither side is spared and both are equally pilloried by this work. It should be requirec reading for every American regardless of party affiliation.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Excellent Book

    Carefully researched and very well written. The truth always comes out in the end. God save America from another four years of Obama.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    An Inside Account of the Battle of the Budget

    This book is similar to others Bob Woodward has written in that it gives you an
    inside glimpse into the world of Washington that we as ordinary citizens are not
    able to see. As usual Bobs' sources are right in the middle of the action.
    It gives you the various positions of the President as well as the leaders
    of both Houses of Congress. I thought the one thing that stood out was the
    current dysfunction of our elected leaders. It show's the rigidity of both sides
    and thus a deal on the deficit and our long term deficit issues was not
    able to be reached. I'm surprised the book and it's contents has not
    been mentioned in this years Presidential Election. Like all of Bobs' previous
    books this one was extraordinarily researched and is very interesting for
    both Political Junkies as well as we the people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    Fasinating detail in the political process in Washington

    It is amazing that Woodward can get the information that is in the book. It is extremely detailed, often with hour by hour and day by day developments with who said what. If you are interested in the political process in Washington, it is a must read. With our current president and current Congress, it made me wonder how anything gets done but also showed why the balance of power is so important.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2012

    Good Read Especially For PolSci Students

    Im a student at WVU and Woodwards book is very detailed and informative. I plan to use this book for a research paper.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2012

    Insightful - Not what I expected from Woodward

    The book gives an inside view of another trait of Obama's personality. I expected Woodward to be more journalistic and not distribute his bias. He does look inside of much of the political negotiations that take place in Washington. However, he still seems to protect the President by giving his inside circle decision making power. It also depicts Obama as someone that makes deals on legislation and then bail out if something disturbs him before getting approval of Congress. It does discuss the distribution of tax monies and the strings that are attached. Not a great book, but a good book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Interesting but....

    In this Political hotbed it is difficult to figure out "What is the real Truth" Bob's book gave some insight but I do feel it was slamted.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    WOW!!!!

    The book is excellent you don't want to put it down. However if this is what is really going on in DC were all screwed!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Well-written and Researched

    Insightful and frustrating, Woodward paints a detailed and vivid portrait of our country's ever-worsening fiscal crisis. The numbers are mind-numbing, so much so that it's almost forgiveable that ultimately nothing was resolved. Almost.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Excellent read, helps clarify the dis-function in DC

    Bob Woodward has done an excellent job capturing and reporting the inside discussions that have gone on in Washington since the Obama administration has continuously bumped heads with the other-minded congress (especially House under Boehner's leadership. There is enough depth in the book to help me understand and in some ways begin to empathize with the diverse values and beliefs of the different interests and agendas of our political leadership. Great read that moves pretty fast although frustratingly slow given the huge dis-function of the two party system voters are stuck with.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 2, 2013

    All hatchets aside, truth and perception are usually miles apart

    All hatchets aside, truth and perception are usually miles apart, but Mr. Woodward hits it right on with little emotion as usual. Obama truly is the most dangerous perso in the world and will lie without reservation. Unfortunately, the Republicans will sit in the dark with their hands folded, while we pay the bill for both wekenesses. I agree that the women of Obama should be next.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    I loove bob wooewqrd.

    Julyy marcih aoril may june builrtyyyagustgdjuuseptemberiiotiberrnocvrmberdecemaberjanuary febuattt march

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    This is another excellent impartial written book by Bob Woodward

    This is another excellent impartial written book by Bob Woodward on a subject of intense interest to every U.S. citizen. That subject deals with Congressional leadership’s failure to act reasonably in a non-partisan manner to seek common ground on reaching resolution for solving the nation’s budget deficit and national debt problems. In a non bias written rendering of events Mr. Woodward shows the human pettiness, the political posturing for party gain and how politicians are more concern with political survival then with profile of courage to do what is proper for the nation’s citizens to settle outstanding differences to reach common ground. At times, as a U.S. voter, I find our political leaders’ behavior appalling, disgusting and nauseating. Events in Washington by our political leaders seem less about governing on what is best for the electorate, and more on political posturing for self-aggrandizement.

    Jerry D, Alexandria, LA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Drop dead

    Very bad don't recomened it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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