"This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it."
-Barack Obama, September 2008
In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton-and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama's partner and America's face to the world. The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin. But despite the wall-to-wall media coverage of this spellbinding drama, remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines has yet been told.
In Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country's leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. How did Obama convince himself that, despite the thinness of his résumé, he could somehow beat the odds to become the nation's first African American president? How did the tumultuous relationship between the Clintons shape-and warp-Hillary's supposedly unstoppable bid? What was behind her husband's furious outbursts and devastating political miscalculations? Why did McCain make the novice governor of Alaska his running mate? And was Palin merely painfully out of her depth-or troubled in more serious ways?
Game Change answers those questions and more, laying bare the secret history of the 2008 campaign. Heilemann and Halperin take us inside the Obama machine, where staffers referred to the candidate as "Black Jesus." They unearth the quiet conspiracyin the U.S. Senate to prod Obama into the race, driven in part by the fears of senior Democrats that Bill Clinton's personal life might cripple Hillary's presidential prospects. They expose the twisted tale of John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, the truth behind the downfall of Rudy Giuliani, and the doubts of those responsible for vetting Palin about her readiness for the Republican ticket-along with the McCain campaign staff's worries about her fitness for office. And they reveal how, in an emotional late-night phone call, Obama succeeded in wooing Clinton, despite her staunch resistance, to become his secretary of state.
Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.
The Washington Post -
…[Heilemann and Halperin] not only tell the story of the 2008 campaign in an engaging and readable way, they come up with some real reporting. Much of that reporting, it must be said, is of the gossipy sort, such as Harry Reid's by-now famous comment about black speech. Still, although I had some sense of the dimensions of the Palin disaster before reading this book, the authors' account of how she failed to prepare for her debate with Joe Biden is chilling…I doubt that any other book about the 2008 election will top this one in narrative drive.More Reviews and RecommendationsBiography
John Heilemann is the national political correspondent and columnist for New York magazine. An award-winning journalist and the author of Pride Before the Fall: TheTrials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era, he is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Economist. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Mark Halperin is editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine. He is the author of The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President and the coauthor of The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. He has covered six presidential elections, including during his decade as the political director for ABC News. He lives in Manhattan.