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Trail fever : spin doctors, rented strangers, thumb wrestlers, toe suckers, grizzly bears, and other creatures on the road to the White House /
by Michael Lewis.
1st ed.
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, Inc., 1997.
xiv, 299 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
0679446605 (alk. paper)
More Details
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, Inc., 1997.
0679446605 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-05-12:
Despite the overstuffed subtitle, this book stands as the best tale of the 1996 presidential campaign, partly because traditional inside-the-campaign stories often lack revelation and insight. Taking off from his New Republic dispatches, Lewis (Liar's Poker) brings home the craziness‘such as the New Hampshire primary, where every citizen "must be thoroughly sucked up to." He wrings telling insights about the campaign from excursions with Ralph Nader, who speaks of "active citizens" to a student audience, or when he recounts the only nonscripted speech at the Democratic convention, as Jesse Jackson reminded the audience of the "canyon of welfare and despair." Lewis covers his bases with Clinton and Dole, for example, wittily dissecting campaign conventions like the media visit to Dole's hometown of Russell, Kans. But he closes with sobering thoughts on the banality of current media-driven campaigns: "You can't legislate more critical citizens or greater expectations. All you can do is howl and hope others will join in." Photos. 100,000 first printing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-06-15:
Journalist Lewis's (Liar's Poker, LJ 9/1/89) chronicle of the 1996 presidential campaign examines the battle for the Republican Party nomination and the following general election. It differs from most campaign books in that its perspective is "from the bottom of the political food chain." Lewis argues that the leading candidates were so preoccupied with risk avoidance that they failed to address important concerns of the electorate. This meant that to the extent such matters were addressed at all, it was by the lesser candidates. Therefore, Lewis devotes more attention to such minor Republican candidates as Alan Keyes and Morry Taylor and to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader than to Clinton and Dole. His book is not comprehensive, but it provides a frequently humorous and occasionally insightful look into contemporary electoral politics for lay readers.‘Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, May 1997
Kirkus Reviews, May 1997
Publishers Weekly, May 1997
Library Journal, June 1997
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Main Description
A wickedly funny and astute chronicle of the 1996 presidential campaign--and how we go about choosing our leaders at the turn of the century. In it Michael Lewis brings to the political scene the same brilliance that distinguished his celebrated best-seller about the financial world, Liar's Poker. Beginning with the primaries, Lewis traveled across America--a concerned citizen who happened to ride in candidates' airplanes (as well as rented cars in blinding New Hampshire blizzards) and write about their adventures. Among the contenders he observed: Pat Buchanan, a walking tour of American anger; Lamar Alexander, who appealed to people who pretend to be nice to get ahead; Steve Forbes, frozen in a smile and refusing to answer questions about his father's motorcycles; Alan Keyes, one of the great political speakers of our age, whom no one has ever heard of; Morry Taylor--"the Grizz"--the hugely successful businessman who became the refreshing embodiment of ordinary Americans' appetites and ambitions; Bob Dole, a man who set out to prove he would never be president; and Bill Clinton, the big snow goose who flew too high to be shot out of the sky. We watch the cliches of this peculiar subculture collide with characters from the real world: a pig farmer in Iowa; an evangelical preacher in Colorado Springs; a homeless person in Manhattan; a prospective illegal immigrant in Mexico. The politicians speak and speak, often reversing positions, denying direct quotations, mastering the sound bite, dodging hard questions, wreaking havoc on the English language. Spin doctors spin. Rented strangers (campaign workers) proliferate. One particular toe sucker goes awry. Ads are honed to misrepresent and distort. Money makes the world go round. And the citizens are left dumbfounded or cheering empty platitudes. When trail fever breaks on Election Day, half of America's eligible voters stay home. This book offers a striking look at us and our politics and the mammoth unlikelihood of connection between the inauthentic modern candidate and the voter's passions, needs, and desires. In telling the story, Michael Lewis once again proves himself a masterful observer of the American scene.

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