Get Ready for November with “Game Change”

May 5, 2012

November 5th and the presidential election are still a few months off, which means you have plenty of time to check out the candidates and make an informed decision. But let’s be honest here; what you see in the debates and even in the media is only a part of what makes a person president. There’s quite a lot of politicking going on behind the scenes that the American public never sees. So if you’re really interested in trying to get to the truth and choose the best candidate this year, there is one audio book you should definitely put into rotation on your MP3 player.

If you have not yet picked up a copy of “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime”, now is definitely the time to do so. You may have seen the HBO creation of the same name, but it excerpts only the small portion of the narrative that occurs after Sarah Palin notoriously (and disastrously) joined the ill-fated republican campaign for presidency in 2008. There’s a lot more to the story of how Barack Obama swept the political playing field clean and improbably became America’s first black president. And before you cast your vote this November you might want to know the real story.

Surprisingly, this audio book does not feel dated. In fact, it is a decidedly timely listen, what with Obama fighting for a second term in office this year. And authors John Hailemann and Mark Halpern, both political reporters (for New York Magazine and Time Magazine, respectively), have definitely done their best to ensure that listeners won’t be able to turn off the audio book once they get started. With notes taken from their own time on the campaign trail, extensive interviews, and just the tiniest bit of artistic license, these two journalists paint a picture of the candidates (and their spouses) that is at turns fascinating, disturbing, and unflinchingly unflattering. It is also an illuminating experience for a public unaccustomed to looking at the face of the wizard on one side and the man behind the curtain on the other.

You’ll see Hillary Clinton battling with her desire to ride Bill’s wave of popularity versus her fear that her husband’s notorious penchant for tossing the script will get her campaign into hot water. Obama has his own troubles as a man who craves the top spot but is often ill-prepared for what comes with it (like the pressure from Michelle to spend more time at home). McCain practically implodes throughout the course of his campaign. And John Edwards proves himself nothing more than a boy amongst men, grasping at straws in his attempts to get anywhere near the White House. Although many of the incidents outlined in this audio book will be familiar to those who followed the campaign, you’ll be amazed at what was going on when the cameras were off.

The best thing about this audio book is that you don’t need a master in political science to understand what’s going on. From the tour de force of Obama’s grass-roots campaign and his deft utilization of the growing social media landscape, to Hillary’s stubborn unwillingness to take Obama seriously, to McCain’s “maverick” antics and the ill-advised move to choose a running mate who had not been vetted, this audio book provides a cringe-worthy view of the foibles of the American political system. This is one listen that you can’t afford to miss.

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