DOUBLE DOWN by Mark Halperin


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Gossipy insider’s account of the presidential election of 2012, the sequel to Halperin and Heilemann’s best-selling Game Change (2009).

Time senior political analyst Halperin and New York national affairs editor Heilemann, who both serve as senior political analysts at MSNBC as well, are respected and connected in the media and political worlds and well-sourced at the upper reaches of the Democratic and Republican parties. Not surprisingly, their views are conventional and close to the center, their attention trained on politics as sport (or, as the title suggests, as a high-stakes poker game) and politicians as personalities. Their focus is always on the candidates with the most buzz among not just voters, but the Washington, D.C., cognoscenti. In the Republican primaries, then, former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman—a relatively moderate former governor of Utah whom the Obama administration picked for his knowledge of Chinese, to earn points for bipartisanship and possibly to take out of the running for 2012—warrants an entire chapter, though he made almost no impression at all outside of the Beltway. On the other hand, Ron Paul, who lasted until the Republican National Convention and arguably altered the ideology of the grass-roots Republican party more than any other candidate, including the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, is dismissed for his “kookiness,” which “made him more likely to end up on a park bench feeding stale bread to the squirrels than become the Republican nominee.” Still, Halperin and Heilemann offer a highly entertaining, dishy read, full of astonishing revelations about the strengths and, most intriguingly, the foibles of the nation’s political stars and egos, including unforgettable portraits of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in particular. “[W]e have tried,” write the authors, “to render the narrative with an unrelenting focus on the candidates and those closest to them—with an eye toward the high human drama behind the curtain."

Like crack for political junkies.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59420-440-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2013


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