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Publisher's Summary

In their runaway best seller Game Change, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann captured the full drama of Barack Obama’s improbable, dazzling victory over the Clintons, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. With the same masterly reporting, unparalleled access, and narrative skill, Double Down picks up the story in the Oval Office, where the president is beset by crises both inherited and unforeseen - facing defiance from his political foes, disenchantment from the voters, disdain from the nation’s powerful money machers, and dysfunction within the West Wing.

As 2012 looms, leaders of the Republican Party, salivating over Obama’s political fragility, see a chance to wrest back control of the White House - and the country. So how did the Republicans screw it up? How did Obama survive the onslaught of super PACs and defy the predictions of a one-term presidency?

Double Down follows the gaudy carnival of GOP contenders - ambitious and flawed, famous and infamous, charismatic and cartoonish - as Mitt Romney, the straitlaced, can-do, gaffe-prone multimillionaire from Massachusetts, scraped and scratched his way to the nomination.

Double Down exposes blunders, scuffles, and machinations far beyond the klieg lights of the campaign trail: Obama storming out of a White House meeting with his high command after accusing them of betrayal. Romney’s mind-set as he made his controversial “47 percent” comments. The real reasons New Jersey governor Chris Christie was never going to be Mitt’s running mate. The intervention held by the president’s staff to rescue their boss from political self-destruction. The way the tense détente between Obama and Bill Clinton morphed into political gold. And the answer to one of the campaign’s great mysteries - how did Clint Eastwood end up performing Dada dinner theater at the Republican convention?

In Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann take the listener into back rooms and closed-door meetings, laying bare the secret history of the 2012 campaign for a panoramic account of an election that was as hard fought as it was lastingly consequential.

©2013 Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (P)2013 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Those hungry for political news will read Double Down for the scooplets and insidery glimpses it serves up about the two campaigns, and the clues it offers about the positioning already going on among Republicans and Democrats for 2016...The book testifies to its authors’ energetic legwork and insider access...[C]reating a novelistic narrative that provides a you-are-there immediacy...They succeed in taking readers interested in the backstabbing and backstage maneuvering of the 2012 campaign behind the curtains, providing a tactile...[S]ense of what it looked like from the inside. (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

"Chock-full of anecdotes, secret meetings, indiscreet remarks.... No one can compete [with Halperin and Heilemann]. That’s what it means to own the franchise. It’s a small club: these two guys and Bob Woodward. And with this book, they’ve earned their admission." (Michael Kinsley, The New York Times Book Review)

"Sharp insights buttressed by startling indiscretions fill Double Down, a new account of Barack Obama’s win over his 2012 Republican rival, Mitt Romney. This gripping book - a sequel to Game Change, a best seller about Mr. Obama’s 2008 path to the White House - cements the status of the authors as unrivalled chroniclers of campaign politics." (The Economist)

What listeners say about Double Down

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

About HALF as good as Game Change

One good thing about this book--the author's did a decent job of making it non-partisan.

I'm not sure what caused this book to be so disappointing to me--was it the narrator who was so flat and dry, or the actual way the material was put together? It seems like the plan was just to comprise a chronological list of events, and then just read down the line and check off each one.

There wasn't any real excitement or anticipation - which was definitely there throughout Game Change. For political junkies who almost memorized every speech, gaff or event of the last election, I think this book will be a let down. If you weren't glued to the political news programs, and didn't know about all the "inside shenanigans," you will probably enjoy it more. I have heard that people who read the actual book (vs listening) found it to be a lot more engaging.

Even though I found it half as good as Game Change, I couldn't give it 2.5, so had to round up. There are only a few reviews of this book on Audible so far, and I will really be interested to see what other's thought.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hmmmm....maybe i was spoiled by the first book

I'm a book person. I always think the book was better than the movie....always. That being said, I never read the first book, "Game Change" - i only saw the movie. Obviously, it was an excellent screenplay and had some pretty amazing performances, so maybe that spoiled me for the reading of this 2nd book. Game Change had so many juicy tidbits of info that I'd not previously heard while watching the coverage of the Obama v. McCain race. In Double Down, I feel like I'm just sitting through a re-hashing of stuff I already know - or already sort of knew. Although, to be fair, Romney/Ryan were nowhere near the level of entertainment that Sarah Palin herself provides, so perhaps, it's not the book &/or authors' fault?

Narrator does a good job.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fairly good job of reliving the election of 2012

The book does a fairly good job of reliving the election of 2012 going all the way back to the earliest republican primary battles. There are allot of new and interesting bits. The kind of stuff that one says "I can't wait until the book is written on this to really know what happened behind the scenes." For example, how did Obama prepare for the first debate and what was the cause of his poor performance? Or how did the whole Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC go so wrong? But all together this is really just a recap of the media's portrayal of the election as a neck and neck fight all the way to the finish just with some extra insider perspective. There is no real explanation for how Obama won by such a landslide in electoral votes. I don't feel like I'm getting the real inside scoop, just a more in-depth version of what was portrayed in the media at the time. What about some insight into how new technologies where applied and what did the Romney campaign do to miss out?

5 people found this helpful

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  • TM
  • 08-18-14

Devoured!

Any additional comments?

Firstly, pitch perfect narration by Robert Fass.

As for the book itself, perhaps not as exciting as "Game Change", but only because the 2012 election was in itself less exciting. Rather than an explosive new candidate in a no-incumbent election (2008), this book is about the re-election of a struggling president vs. the election of a previously failed presidential candidate we were all pretty familiar with.

That said, the writing is thoroughly engaging and I devoured it!

It probably helps that I followed both elections fairly closely. Getting the inside perspective on moments that from the outside seemed unbelievable, had me rolling around in hysterics - think Clint Eastwood and the chair - hilarious!

One gripe was the cheesy overuse of the title (and tagline) Double Down, but just being picky.

Very enjoyable.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow start

I was concerned that the book wouldn't tell me much I didn't already know, but I had a hard time putting it down. The first section, between the 2010 mid-terms and the Republican race was a bit boring, but not mind-numbingly so. The primary coverage was fascinating, and took up over a third of the story -- I had no idea that the establishment had been working so frantically behind the scenes to get Christie into the race, to avoid being stuck with Mitt. The final part on the general was largely focused on the debates I felt, with some reference to Hurricane Sandy and other events, seeming a bit tacked-on/rushed in that regard. In the final post-mortem, it was obvious that Mitt and his team failed to acknowledge that they lost because they were out-of-step with the American people, blaming the loss (pretty much) solely on higher-than-predicted Dem turnout (by the infamous 47%).

Audio narration was very good, a few minor quibbles aside.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Double Down is a Home Run

I'm a politics junkie (or at least I used to be, before the 2016 presidential cycle forced me to stop following it cold turkey). The presidential race is the Super Bowl of politics. Unfolding as it does over the course of several years, it is a long drawn-out process, sometimes painfully so. But not this book! This is like the NFL Films version, reliving all the best moments of the race, replete with the sideline chatter that you don't hear in the heat of the race.

That this was the kookiest presidential race in my lifetime (until the next one), and certainly one of the most partisan (until the next one), made the process of reliving it through Double Down that much more interesting and fun. Especially Part 2, which reconstructs the Republican primary race. Double Down details how most of the serious hopefuls chose to sit this one out and how most of the fringe candidates jumped in feet first.

With all of the ex-post explanations of how and why certain episodes went down, what can you say, this is candy for politics junkies. Unfortunately, much of it has been rendered moot by 2016 and beyond. What seemed weird and extreme in 2012 now seems quaint and tame. But along with its precursor, Game Change, the same exercise about the 2008 election, it still serves as a good (and chilling) illustration of the stepping stones that brought us to where we are now.

The most interesting character here is Mitt Romney -- after years of Obama as president, his presence in Double Down is not as much of a revelation as Romney. It's truly fascinating to relive his evolution from incorrigible flip-flopper to a guy who doubles down on even the most ludicrous of positions just to avoid being labeled a flip-flopper -- the series of self-inflicted wounds he brought down on himself is mind-boggling (as evidenced by Obama scratching his head at every turn wondering what the heck his opponent thinks he's doing).

Halperin and Heilemann continued on to their third presidential race in 2016, but they did it on TV (Showtime's The Circus) rather than in print. I had been hoping for a book version, but in the aftermath of that election, I probably would not have read it. They're still at it on Showtime, but I've tuned out.

3 people found this helpful

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Very enjoyable 'back story' to the 2012 election

I recently read a review of this book which criticized it as deriving from 'The Great Men' theory of history as opposed to a more social historical analysis of the longer term trends that drove the results of this election. Baloney!

This is a reporter's book of what happened behind the scenes of the presidential campaign that many political junkies and others who follow politics closely love knowing about. It is NOT an historical analysis of the election results and in no way attempts to be one.

I enjoyed it tremendously and the narrator was great.

I also read GAME CHANGE and loved that - perhaps even more because there was more suspense to that election.

This is highly recommended for those looking to understand what went into some of the decisions made by the campaigns rather than a social explanation of the outcome. The only reason I rated it four stars instead of five is that I enjoyed GAME CHANGE even more.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good reminder of the 2012 election.

Would you listen to Double Down again? Why?

Maybe, but it's not a top priority. Some good bits but not as good as the first book when they had Palin to skewer.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a gossipy book. Most of these things I already knew because I am a bit of a political junkie. The things I didn't know were fun and interesting.

Which character – as performed by Robert Fass – was your favorite?

No characters this is a book of non-fiction, I liked the info in the second section the best, It was about the GOP wannabes and was quite enjoyable. I had no idea of all the feuds going on there.
My favorite people in this book were Mrs. Obama and former Pres. Clinton. Clint Eastwood was an honorable mention.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Parts were very funny but for the most part it was sad that people could make such foolish mistakes.

Any additional comments?

I thought the nicknames used for the various people were kind of goofy and wasn't clear if the authors called them this or if these were ways politicians distinguished them. POTUS and FLOTUS are bad enough but Pufferfish for Christie and Fishsconsin for Ryan? Uncle Joe for Biden?

A bit much.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great sequel

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Only if they were way into politics.

What did you like best about this story?

The depth of the narrative. Take the soundbites you heard in 2012 and this will go about 400% deeper.

Any additional comments?

If you loved this first one this one is just as good. I basically listened to it nonstop until I was done.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Not as good as the first, but good.

One of the best audiobook narrators I have heard as well. Interesting story. awaiting Part3

1 person found this helpful