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

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


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Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann, Mark Halperin

“It’s one of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22.” —The Financial Times


“It transports you to a parallel universe in which everything in the National Enquirer is true….More interesting is what we learn about the candidates themselves: their frailties, egos and almost super-human stamina.” —The Financial Times


“I can’t put down this book!” —Stephen Colbert


Game Change is the New York Times bestselling story of the 2008 presidential election, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the best political reporters in the country. In the spirit of Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes and Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President 1960, this classic campaign trail book tells the defining story of a new era in American politics, going deeper behind the scenes of the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin campaigns than any other account of the historic 2008 election.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061733642
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/26/2010
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 104,521
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Authors' Note ix

Prologue 1

Part I

1 Her Time 19

2 The Alternative 36

3 The Ground Beneath Her Feet 63

4 Getting to Yes 88

5 The Inevitables 124

6 Barack in a Box 167

7 "They Looooove Me!" 199

8 The Turning Point 235

9 The Fun Part 258

10 Two for the Price of One 285

11 Fear and Loathing in the Lizard's Thicket 309

12 Pulling Away and Falling Apart 347

13 Obama Agonistes 374

14 The Bitter End Game 402

Part II

15 The Maverick and His Meltdown 433

16 Running Unopposed 460

17 Slipping Nooses, Slaying Demons 490

Part III

18 Paris and Berlin 517

19 The Mile-High Club 537

20 Sarahcuda 565

21 September Surprise 605

22 Seconds in Command 634

23 The Finish Line 671

Epilogue: Together at Last 689

What People are Saying About This

Kurt Andersen

“Riveting, definitive. . . . A great campaign book. . . . Halperin and Heilemann got insiders to cough up astonishing artifacts, including emails and recordings. . . . Game Change is really interesting, and puts you deep in the middle of it.”

Michiko Kakutani

“A fascinating account. . . . Heilemann and Halperin serve up a spicy smorgasbord of observations, revelations, and allegations. . . . Game Change leaves the reader with a vivid, visceral sense of the campaign and a keen understanding of the paradoxes and contingencies of history.”

Stephen Colbert

“I can’t put down this book!”

Tina Brown

“A smoking new book. . . . The real revelation in Game Change: Campaigns turn our politicians into lunatics.”

Tim Rutten

“Compulsively readable. Once begun, you can’t put it down. . . . Deeply and knowledgeably reported and presented with all the cool sophistication one would expect from two accomplished political reporters.”

Joe Scarborough

“The best presidential political book since What it Takes by Richard Ben Cramer and Teddy White’s books. These are the types of books that got me into politics.”

Hendrik Hertzberg

“The authors of Game Change succeed in creating a plausible account of the emotional tumult of the 2008 campaign as it might have been—perhaps even was—experienced by the candidates, their spouses, and their staffs.”

Tina Jordan

“Riveting. . . . Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits. . . . This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign. . . . And it doesn’t hurt that Game Change reads more bodice-ripper than Beltway.”

Don Imus

“You’ve got to read Game Change. . . . I read each and every word. . . . Game Change is a great book.”

Clive Crook

“An amazing piece of work. . . . One of the best books on politics of any kind I’ve read. For entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch 22. . . . An absolutely gripping read . . . they can write.”

Customer Reviews

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Game Change 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 789 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must for anyone interested in politics and the governance of the United States. The details that have been revealed in the press are dwarfed by the fine writing and detailed stories in the book. You will get to know the current leaders of the United States: fully human, flawed, and heroic in their own ways.
Geoff_Hasler More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book has tons of NEW info about the 2008 election. You'd think after this time that there's nothing more to say. But the Harry Reid is the least of it. There's lots of extra new material for 2008 election junkies like me.
Kspiv More than 1 year ago
This was an engrossing read. Full of inside info many of us, regardless of your political views, have been dying to hear. This is by far more informative & truthful compared to Sarah Palin's unbalananced & less than forthcoming "Going Rogue". Could not put it down...wish it could be made into a movie!
KathyDE More than 1 year ago
This book was fascinating, unbiased and well written. I suggest having a dictionary nearby for the 25 cent words. This book provided insight into the candidates that the public in general was unaware. It is an easy read and very informative.
campaignvet More than 1 year ago
As a person who has run campaigns on the municipal, county, state and federal levels, I found the book to be quite entertaining and fascinating. If you are as old as me, you remember the late Teddy White's Making of the Presidency books filled with the behind the scenes strategy. Game Change is that type of book. If you are political junkie who wants to know not only what politicians are thinking but how they and their staffs daily react to the incredible stresses of a presidental campaign you will enjoy this read. These two authors appear to have a number of insides sources - on both sides of the political aisles - who provide the scuttlebut of the innerworkings of the campaigns from the primaries to the general election right up to the time President -elect Obama successfully lobbies to get Hillary Clinton to take the Secreatry of State position. The authors draw portraits of OBama as a cool, methodical politican who carefully thinks out everything before reacting. Clinton as a highly bright, aggresive poltician plagued by a campaign structure riddled with inside fighting and a campaign manager (Solis Doyle) who should not have been in this demanding position. And of course, Bill Clinton who at times was Hillary's best asset and at others her worst nightmare on the campaign trail. The books cogently highlights how the OBama campaign was much more advanced than the Clinton campaign on the core issues of campaigning: marketing, financing and field organizations. The OBama campaign also were light years ahead of the Clinton campaign in developing a strategy early on to capture delegates at state caucuses; a critcal plan that may have won Obama in the long run the nomination. Republicans: McCain comes of as a fighter who defies the odds during the primary only to see his maverick attitude and failing economy become his worst adversaries. Sarah Palin probably got the worst review in the book with the authors apparently relying on several McCain campaign sources not only questioning her work ethic, but at times the state of her mental health. If there are weaknesses in the book (the first one generic) they deal with the fact that relying on a number of sources for information, usually put those sources in a better light. It's called spin. The other weakness is that authors are clearly more attuned and more aligned with candidate O'Bama (and I am a Democrat). For example, near the end of the book they become more editorial in scope and criticize the McCain campaign for getting tough on the William Ayers situation. Yet they never fully explore the wrath or the fullisade of unfair and often scurrilous rumors leveled at Palin. However, these weaknesses aside, the book will give the readers a unique and thorough look into the dynamics - warts and all - of how we elected our newest President. For that reason the book is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really looked forward to this book. I saw the suthors on TV and felt they had written an objective book about the candidates and the election process. What a surprise! Once again, anytime you see someone selling something on radio &/or TV you must caution yourself that if they need to promote their wares it must be a bummer. Though interesting to read about the background of politics and in this case the 2008 election I kept coming back to the fact that it was not written with true objectivity towards all the candidates. Obvious, the authors were/are enthralled with President Obama. have disdain for the Clintons and laughed their way thru the McCain/Palin section. It appeared they received much more input from the Obama 'team' than from the Clinton or McCain/Palin[if any]sides. Net, American politics is not about sincerity but arrogance and the seeking of power. I have even less respect for our politicians after reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
American citizens have a right to know the truth about what goes on in these campaigns. Transparency is a key when we go to the voting box. If we had only known the truth prior to our last election, our country more than likely would not be in the crisis it is in today. As an Oboma/Biden voter I wish I had this information last year.
AvidReaderSD More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed this book--read it this weekend(it snowed?!)--but i couldn't put it down--yes it was somewhat like a soap opera but that was what i liked--i followed this last campaign totally--it was the race of the century--i remember the events as this book alludes to them--for me however what the book does is that the 'players' off the glossy stage and shows them warts and all--you see them with all their frustrations, doubts, angst and foibles--this was what made this book so enjoyable and fascinating--would recoment especially with a bowl of popcorn
Jon-Appleseed More than 1 year ago
Of all the books written on the politically charged election this may be the best (and most even-handed). Despite the noise that was made about out of context excerpts of this book, it is a look at both the Republican and Democratic campaigns that doesn't take the side of one party or candidate. The majority of the book is given over to the Democratic Primary race due to its drama between Edwards, Clinton and President Obama and the historical importance of the nomination of a woman or African-American as their presidential hopeful. While the book is great for those interested in politics and history, it will turn off most who think that one political party is superior to another.
prenoun More than 1 year ago
A fascinating, heavily detailed narrative of the nearly singular, certainly historic 2008 presidential campaign, "Game Change" views its cast with an omnipresent eye and strongly critical gaze. Detailing Obama's unprecedented self-confidence, Clinton's poorly matched handlers, Edwards's half-ignorant, half-willful self-destruction, and the assembly of McCain's ideologically bipolar ticket, "Game Change" is completely riveting, end to end. Despite its audience knowing how the election cycle will play out, the book provides a page turner, detailing the best and worst of the personalities dominating the election. A well researched account of a fascinating, one-in-a-lifetime election year, whose repercussions are still unfolding. (Also posted at Goodreads.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fast read, thoroughly entertaining with dialogue that was completely believable..where fabricated by authors. Interesting insight into the players of the election. Some information about President Obama's campaign that I thought would have made it in as "challenges " to his run were suprisingly not there... Overall fair and well done
Tararizer More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down - it was so interesting!! From the way Hillary's and McCain's campaigns were run, to the weak vetting of Sarah Palin, to the rallying support behind Obama - it was very enlightening. It was a fantastic read!
lovingmynewnook More than 1 year ago
Even as a political junkie, I didn't expect this book to be as addicting as it was. After staying up too late too many nights to keep reading, I said "This is crazy! I KNOW how this turns out!" A really good read, with details I'd never heard before. I'm hoping the authors are working on another edition about the current election.
Book-touched More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin take the reader on a behind the scenes account of the major presidential and vice-presidential candidates and their spouses during the roller coaster 2008 presidential race. Wonderfully and excitingly written, GAME CHANGE is a real page turner packed with page after page of revelations and rare insights into the human beings behind the candidates' political masks. Full of tantalizing back stories behind the headlines it provides an in depth glimpse of politics in action. I highly recommend this book.
zoeCC More than 1 year ago
Game Change provides a great backstory to the politicians most of us 'know' only by what the political handlers want us to see and believe. This book humanizes the candidates and adds flesh to the bones. I strongly recommend this not just to those who are avidly interested in politics but to anyone interested in people.
GetTheStory More than 1 year ago
These political reporters have thrown light into the darkest corners of an epic political battle, leaving nothing to the imagination. Some of the passages are so daunting they must be read several times, as the story takes twists and turns of dramatic proportions. Game Change is must read not only for political junkies, but more importantly for all voters, who really should witness the behind-the-scene bare knuckles rarely displayed in a presidential political contest. This book brings into sharp focus the dramas that never see the light of day in major media outlets. Sadly, the authors proufoundly confirm the public's suspicion of extreme bias of major players in the news media. And the key characters -- the candidates and their families -- are unveiled and defined in all their strengths and weaknesses that ususally only come to light decades after they have left the world stage.
TexasBonnieBelle More than 1 year ago
If you love Obama and hate Sarah Palin this is the book for you. The entire first half of the book is on Obama overcoming Hillary (and Bill) and even when he makes mistakes (which is not often according to the authors) Obama is always the wise, in control, guy who has wisdom directly from God because he doesn't get it from any experience he's had in the real world. By the end of the book you feel sorry for Hillary (something I thought I would NEVER feel) and realize that these authors are in the tank for Obama just like all the rest of the main street media. It does a typical hatchet job on McCain and Palin. The only person unscathed in this book is Obama. If you love gossip that has no basis in fact you'll love this book.
ADogInBrooklyn More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic. Unlike other non-fiction books that feed you so much information and have somewhat bland parts in between, this one was so factually thrilling that I could NOT put it down. Unlike other reviews say, Game Change was political without being biased. Obama was not put on a pedestal in this book. He was certainly thrown his own end of the short stick too. I loved how the reporters gave the behind the scenes peeks and insights of everyone who played a part in the election machine... it really gave you a full picture of the politicians in the country, without seeming like an overextended tabloid article. If you want to get to know your politicians more, if the legend that was the 2008 US presidential elections made your blood rush, if you want to know the strengths (there are many pointed) and weaknesses of potential future candidates, if you want to feel the thrill and suspense once again, then GET THIS BOOK. Thank you so much to the reporters that worked hard to create such a wonderfully readable story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew politics was tough. I knew they played to us. BUT, I had no idea how extreme things usually are. It's very sad to think how manipulative it all is. What's worse is that those competing for an office can be vicious to one another, then become "good friends." I've become very discouraged and am wary - not knowing what to believe.
Mary_T More than 1 year ago
The subject matter of GAME CHANGE is certainly enthralling. The authors purport to give you an inside look at the scandals roiling behind the scenes of the 2008 presidential campaign, and the pickings are quite juicy. Sex, betrayal, infidelity, greed, blind ambition and did I mention sex? We get to listen in to the seediest backroom buzz from the republicans and the democrats. But eventually the reader pauses and thinks, "How do they know all this?" Indeed many of the comments they "quote" can only be accurate if they had a micro-recorder inside President Obama's brain leading one to the inescapable conclusion that strict adherence to the truth was not the author's first concern. Journalism is based on quoting named sources. Non-fiction books usually go through vigorous fact-checking before going to print. Each source is called and their words verified independently by the publisher's crack research team. Since NONE of the sources in GAME CHANGE are named, there has bee NO fact checking whatsoever. This is the definition of "fiction".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Game Change shows how the Democratic and Republican are at war with each other. Americans can not benefit from such fighting and these types of old politics. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very much enjoyed this book. Not a partisan political book, m, reads as diiligent reporting. Highly recomend if this topic interestss you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating look at behind the scenes of a Presidential campaign. I highly recommend to all readers, both Democrat and Republican. Easy reading. Very interesting.
hcr More than 1 year ago
I bought this because there was so much buzz about the movie, which I did not want to watch, but did want to know something about if it, as it probably would, came up in conversation. What a great surprise! The book is very little about Sarah Palin and very much about political campaigning in the U.S. The first part takes you deeply into the 2008 campaign camp of Obama, then that of Hillary Clinton, then the race between the two. As I understand it, none of this was in the movie. The last part concerns the McCain/Palin campaign. I saw some of the trailers from the movie which put Palin in a less than flattering light. I did not see any of those moments in the book. If you have any interest at all in politics, you should enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting view of behind the scenes campaigns of the 2008 election. Each candidate is scrutinized and made real, sometimes not to our liking. Very interesting and difficult to put down.