From the authors of the number one New York Times bestseller Game Change, an explosive account of the 2012 presidential election, pulling back the curtain to reveal the exhilarating, newsbreaking story behind the headlines for the first time
John Heilemann and Mark Halperin set the national conversation on fire with their bestselling account of the 2008 presidential election, Game Change. In Double Down, they apply their unparalleled access and storytelling savvy to the 2012 election, rendering an equally compelling narrative about the circuslike Republican nomination fight, the rise and fall of Mitt Romney, and the trials, tribulations, and Election Day triumph of Barack Obama.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Heilemann and Halperin deliver another reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, Double Down offers a panoramic account of a campaign at once intensely hard fought and lastingly consequential. For Obama, the victory he achieved meant even more to him than the one he had pulled off four years earlier. In 2008, he believed, voters had bet on a hope; in 2012, they passed positive judgment on what he’d actually done, allowing him to avert a loss that would have rendered his presidency a failed, one-term accident. For the Republicans, on the other hand, 2012 not only offered a crushing verdict but an existential challenge: to rethink and reconstitute the party or face irrelevance—or even extinction. Double Down is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of an election of singular importance. Show more
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MARK HALPERIN is an editor at large and a senior political analyst for Time magazine, and a senior political analyst for MSNBC. Halperin, who has covered seven presidential elections, received his B.A. from Harvard University and resides in New York City with Karen Avrich.
JOHN HEILEMANN is the national affairs editor for New York magazine and a political analyst for MSNBC. An award-winning journalist and author of Pride Before the Fall, he is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Economist. He lives in Brooklyn.
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (November 5, 2013)
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.
This is a comprehensive and surprisingly unbiased account of the 2012 campaign and the backstories behind the candidates who took part in it. The book is in three parts, each of which is comprehensive enough to be a stand-alone book in its own right.
The first "book" (Part I) is the backstory of Obama's Presidency from 2008 to 2012. This was my least favorite part because it was clinically written without much emotion or new insights. Authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann describes Obama as a moderate, pragmatic sort of person who has as little use for the self-serving Black Civil Rights establishment as he does for the Conservative Tea Party activists. According to Halperin and Heilemann, Obama may come across at times as a petulant professor, but he's hardly the extreme Liberal-verging-on-Marxist maniac that has taken root in popular Conservative folklore.
Halperin and Heilemann give a fair account of Obama's political battles with the Republican House of Representatives over healthcare reform, banking bailouts, and federal budgets. But a politically savvy reader will already be familiar with this material. I'd suggest skimming this part or skipping it altogether and getting started with the second part, which makes the book a worthwhile read.
The second part --- describing the Republican primary candidates' machinations to win the nomination --- has all the drama and excitement you'd expect in a political book
It starts out with a fair-minded account of Mitt Romney's career. Nothing new here, because Mitt has been around long enough for most of us to know his story. He's one of those incorruptible personalities whose scandal-free life seems dull by its very absence of misconduct.Read more ›
A half century ago, Theodore White wrote The Making of the President 1960 and, in so doing, changed the way in which we view political campaigns. Double Down follows the tradition of covering an election season as a contest in which tactics are far more interesting and prominent than are policies or moral choices. To the authors, "the 2012 election had the feel of a big casino, as the players took on the complexion of compulsive gamblers, pushing more and more chips into the center of the table." As with the previous book by these authors (Game Change), the very title refers to the campaign as a race rather than as the process of choosing a leader.
In Game Change, the authors delivered an entirely new characterization of Sarah Palin based on interviews with Republican strategist Steven Schmidt. Double Down does not bring as much new information to the table but it does present an almost seamless, inside look at the 2012 election from primaries through victory speech. The book is especially strong in its ability to show how the individual strengths and character flaws of each candidate inevitably stamp themselves upon the campaign. The authors also give due consideration to the changing role of money in the election as a result of Citizens United and the ever increasing impact of experts in each party on campaign planning and execution.
The book is more cursory in its analysis of policy differences between the candidates. The 2012 election became, in many ways, a referendum on Obama's performance and passage of the Affordable Health Care Act. This represented a complicated hurdle for Mitt Romney since the Act was based on a Heritage Foundation idea which Romney had championed in Massachusetts.Read more ›
Halperin and Hellemann's book of the 2012 election is forthright and impressive. Many of the big 'takes' have been promoted on their book tours, but there is a great deal of terrific information that is left. For political junkies like me, the inside scoop of what went on in the Obama and Romney's election campaign is stuff to gnaw on. One of the more interesting tidbits is about Christie's vetting for VP with Romney. What Romney's team found was so much negative info that could not and was not explained that Romney knew Christie could never take the heat of a Presidential campaign.
The authors concentrate on Obama's re-election campaign, and in particular his hatred of debates. The Denver debate where he failed, and then onto the rest of the campaign. The high level of good will for the First Lady, Michelle, helped to give her the highest of likability of anyone in the campaign. The finely tuned operation that started in Chicago that made this election so winnable. What did surprise me, and I think it is relevant today, is the lack of really good, close people to surround the President and make sure all of his efforts and policies were on the right track and evolving as they should. Note the ACA disaster, no one seemed to be leading this effort. The President is a great idea man, but he is not one who follows up or leads the policies on-going.
And then there was Mr. Romney . Bill Clinton "remarked to a friend, that, while Mitt was a decent man, he was in the wrong line of work. 'He really shouldn't be speaking to people in public.' ". Time after time, Mitt Romney made many faux pas that showed this man was an elitist. President Obama disliked Romney intensely, and he had difficulty hiding it. The 47% remarks by Romney, really seemed to close his electability.Read more ›