What It Takes: The Way to the White House

What It Takes: The Way to the White HouseWhat Happens When A Man Sacrifices Privacy For Power What Drives A Politician To Risk The Ruin Of His Family, His Marriage, His Children, For The Sake Of Ambition Why Can T A Candidate Ever Explain Himself To The Electorate, Communicate What He Dreams About Or What He Wants Why Can T Someone Attempting To Become The Planet S Most Powerful Official Ever Fulfill His Own Needs Or Desires In 1986, Richard Ben Cramer, A Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Embarked On A Reportorial Enterprise Without Parallel He Would Explore The Lives Of The Candidates Who Would Run For President In 1988 And Try To Discover What Convinced Them They Could Lead The United States Of America InWhat It Takes, Cramer Answers The Above Questions About Six Of The 1988 Contenders Including George Herbert Walker Bush He Sets A New Standard For Research And Daring, And Does For Politicians What Tom Wolfe Did For Astronauts In The Right Stuff.Not A Book About Politics Or The Intricacies Of Campaigns, What It Takesuses Novelistic Detail To Provide The Most Startlingly Intimate Glimpse Of The American Heart On The Way To The White House.A Bona Fide American Epic What It Takes Is The Most Extraordinary Book Ever Written About Our Political Culture.

Richard Ben Cramer was an American journalist and writer He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1979 for his coverage of the Middle East His work as a political reporter culminated in What It Takes The Way to the White House, an account of the 1988 presidential election that is considered one of the seminal journalistic studies of presidential electoral politics.

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  • Hardcover
  • 1047 pages
  • What It Takes: The Way to the White House
  • Richard Ben Cramer
  • English
  • 05 March 2018
  • 9780394562605

10 thoughts on “What It Takes: The Way to the White House

  1. Adam Dalva says:

    Gigantic work of political reporting and a huge accomplishment It s a comfort to read Cramer s close examination of the 1988 primaries and remember that campaigns are always nutty The overriding thesis of the book is smart a deep look at 6 very different figures Bush Dole Dukakis Biden Gephardt Hart that examines the moments that made them want to be president, paired with a beat by beat walk through of the challenges to those identities during their runs.Though the inside information is good, this book is much important for its style, a bizarre mix of Thompson and Pynchon that somehow inhabits each politicians voice, to particular effect with the dour, ever working, tragic hero Dole, the always charismatic Biden, and, surprisingly, the sporty, friendly, bubble bound Bush the senior Subtle differences in cadence and unsubtle differences in vocabulary immediately ground you in the minds of the candidates He doesn t fin...

  2. Matt says:

    This is about as good as it gets, as close as American politics offers to a mortal lock On this night, October 8, 1986, the Vice President is coming to the Astrodome, to Game One of the National League Championship Series, and the nation will be watching from its La Z Boys as George Bush stands front and center, glistening with America s holy water play off juice Oh, and here s the beauty part he doesn t have to say a thing He s just got to throw out the first ball He ll be hosted by the Astros ownerhe ll be honored by the National League and the Great Old Game he ll be cheered by 44,131 fans and not even a risky crowd, the kind that might get testy because oil isn t worth a damnNo, those guys can t get tickets tonight This is a play off crowd, a corporate perks crowd, the kind of fellows who were transferred in a few years ago from Stamford Conn., you know, for that new marketing thing and were, frankly, delighted by the price of housing , a solid GOP crowd, tax conscious, white and polite they re wearing sports coats, and golf shirts with emblems vice presidents all Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes The Way to the White HouseSo begins one of the classic works of American politics A huge, giddy, breathless ride that leaves you exhausted.Just like politics leaves you exhausted There is no better time to read Richard Ben Cramer s What it Takes For years, now...

  3. A.J. Howard says:

    I m reposting this review today because the e book version of this is on sale at for 2, or a.0005 per page Tempting me to buy an electronic copy of a long book I ve already read, that I probably won t ever read again.But if you haven t read this one, I really recommend it Re reading my review I found a handful of pretty bad grammatical mistakes, leading me to question my long held disbelief in proof reading Hopefully, corrected the most glaring one s and I apologize for not catching them earlier.Maybe it s just a function of my age, I was three at the time, but the 1988 election has never really seemed that notable to me I may be a child of Reagan, but George H.W Bush was president when I first grasped a notion of what a president was, so I may have seen the 88 election through an aura of inevitability Politics and opinions aside, George Bush will always be the bedrock for my conception of president 88 seems the Young Americans of presidential elections, a not particularly noteworthy event wedged between two groundbreaking eras Reagan Revolution Ziggy and Clinton Administration Berlin Trilogy Does such a seemingly foregone conclusion as Bush beating Mike Dukaki...

  4. Cora says:

    One of the things you realize fairly quickly in this job is that there is a character people see out there called Barack Obama That s not you Whether it is good or bad, it is not you I learned that on the campaign President Barack Obama, speaking to Michael Lewis in October 2012 What It Takes is widely considered a classic among hardcore political buffs, campaign reporters and political scientists, on the level of Robert Caro s LBJ trilogy Richard Ben Cramer has the less earth shaking subject of the 1988 presidential election, and it might seem strange to dedicate 1100 pages to a relatively unimportant election Cramer also largely omits the Jesse Jackson campaign, missing out on what s now considered a necessary precursor to Barack Obama s election But that s part of the secret genius of the book this is a representative sample of a broader trend, and the larger picture of campaign season, in all its all consuming insanity A similar book could be written about 1968, or 2008, and the essential basis of the book would remain the same.Cramer profiles six candidates George H W Bush and Bob Dole for the Republicans, Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Dick Gephardt and Joe Biden for the Democrats Cramer is a very insightful biographer, and I was impressed at ...

  5. Noah says:

    This book is the opposite of a light read It s not something you can just have on the nightstand and casually dip in and out of every once in a while It s a book that you wrestle with and try not to get bucked off That being said, it s probably one of my favorite books of all time Even though the book is twenty years old, it feels totally relevant Cramer does than anyone else I ve ever read to actually make sense of the absurd machine of modern American politics, to diagram how all the different pieces the candidates, the money, the media, the handlers, the voters fit together You get to understand what kind of bubble candidates and officeholders live in, and the conflicting incentives at play More than anything he does a damn good job of answering the core question of the book, which is, what kind of person has th...

  6. Susan Bigelow says:

    This book This incredible, huge, infuriating, impossible, gorgeous and utterly mind bending book.I ve been reading this book at night now for what has to be months and months I picked it up because the guy who runs Political Wire recommended it It s 1400 pages long, or so the Nook tells me, but it s worth it The story Richard Ben Cramer has to tell is so vast and expansive that it merits the length This is the story of the 1988 presidential campaign, but it s also much than that It s the backstory of many of the main participants though, sadly, not Pat Robertson or Jesse Jackson from Joe Biden to Bob Dole to Michael Dukakis and George H.W Bush The book explores their lives, their campaigns, their formative experiences, and what made them really tick It s the story of how 1988 s campaign was a disaster for them, how it chewed them and their wives and staffers up and spat them out It s the story of a fickle, sensationalist and distracted national press, and how the press formed the campaign But mostly it s a very human story of the men who offered themselves up to the great pri...

  7. Coan says:

    What It Takes by Richard Ben CramerIt is rare that I will encounter a book that I have not heard of before and while reading it realise I am reading a masterwork of the genre Rarer still for a book that seems so focussed and myopic in its scope but that which takes such joy in its topic this being the 1988 lead up to the US Presidential Elections and, without trying, prompts easy reflections on one s current life As mentioned, the book covers the Presidential candidature run of six people for the Democrats Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Dick Gephardt and Joe Biden For the Republicans Bob Dole a personal favourite to read about for his amazing energy, will and down to earth attitude and George Bush The book is six biographies in one, told from boyhood to just after the election with key moments of their lives told and how it shaped them for public office.Ben Cramer s book is meticulously researched to an intense level of detail It would be worth a short book in itself or a documentary on how he managed such access and ability to capture the lives, emotions and motivations of major political play...

  8. Michael says:

    Is there such a thing as being too definitive The late Richard Ben Cramer s titanic deep dive into the 1987 88 presidential primary season is rightly regarded as the last word on the crazy making rigors of electoral politics in this country Hard to argue books like Game Change, and similar attempts to go behind the scenes with the insiders, are but superficial imitators to the throne in comparison.The level of commitment from Cramer is awe inspiring, likely rivaled only by Robert A Caro s multi volume biography of Lyndon Johnson in the category of total immersion But at least Caro has been writing for nearly 40 years about one man Cramer somehow managed to follow six different campaigns around in real time over a two year stretch, apparently leaving no stone unturned and unpacking each candidate s life story in indelible detail at great cost to his own health, it turns out.The depth of reportage isn t the only thing that distinguishes What It Takes Cramer, a disciple of the New Journalism school of writing, gets so deep inside the heads of his six candidates and their families and their handlers that the narrative voice goes somewhere beyond omniscience You can actually hear these people speaking you ll never listen to a clip of Bob Dole the same way again If you, like me, are under 40, you may have a hard time recalling much about Dick Gephardt or Dole not counting his weird turn as a Viagra pitch man , but Geo...

  9. Hadrian says:

    Massive book about the kinds of people who have the unusual drive to enter politics on a national scale Not about campaign strategy so much as personal motivations and biographies Very interesting for anybody interested in politicking.

  10. Cullen says:

    3.5 starsI picked this up because it is supposed to be a must read for political junkies Aaron Sorkin required that cast members read it during the production of The West Wing.It is very readable and effective in humanizing the six chosen characters of the 1988 election, so from that standpoint the book was a great success However, many reviews describe this book as exhaustive , and at nearly 1100 pages it certainly should be I found it frustratingly sketchy on many details The first votes of the primary season are not cast until page 900, and there is virtually no coverage of the post convention general election.The 88 election had many moments that are now famous Dukakis riding in the tank never mentioned Read my lips, no new taxes one sentence Senator, you re no Jack Kennedy never mentioned Quayle and Bentsen are nowh...

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