CAMPAIGN AMERICA '96 by William O'Rourke


The View from the Couch
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 An engaging, nicely exasperated account of the 1996 campaign for the presidency, largely consisting of a day-by-day journal novelist O'Rourke (Notts, 1996, etc.) kept from January until election day. The twist here is that O'Rourke's journal is entirely about what he has seen on television, becoming as much a commentary on commentators as on the candidates and their spin doctors. The virtue of this approach is that it reminds us of the extent to which our opinions are shaped by the talking heads infesting the airwaves, and O'Rourke has some scathing offhand judgments of commentators and reporters. The downside is that it the book seems finally rather like sitting, for a very long time, with a cranky, bright, frequently witty friend, given to off-the-cuff analysis. Still, some of the set pieces here, including O'Rourke's dissection of Dole's and Clinton's convention speeches, are hilarious, and his portrait of the obsessive shallowness of the media is convincing and alarming. A highly unusual contribution to the study of politics and media.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56924-758-7
Page count: 516pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997