Trail Fever: Spin Doctors, Rented Strangers, Thumb Wrestlers, Toe Suckers, Grizzly Bears, and Other Creatures on the Road to the Wh

Michael Lewis, Author
Michael Lewis, Author Alfred A. Knopf $25 (299p) ISBN 978-0-679-44660-6
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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)
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