Hailed as "astonishingly powerful" by The New York Times, and "written perfectly" by The Washington Post, Primary Colors, with over one million hardcover copies in print, was the most- talked-about political novel of the past century. The brilliant portrait of a charming, ambitious, amoral young Southerner on his way to the White House struck an instantly recognizable chord, and catapulted Anonymous--aka New Yorker Washington correspondent Joe Klein--into the public eye as a novelist of the first rank.
Now, in The Running Mate, Klein takes the reader on an exuberant, wicked, and unerringly wise political journey with Senator Charlie Martin, a decorated veteran of the war in Vietnam. The experience of combat and his easy dominance of home-state politics have made Charlie fearless. He's a hot, if occasionally reckless, political property--dashing, honorable, and irreverent.
And then Charlie's life begins to fall apart. He campaigns for the presidency and fails. The wacky father of a volunteer decks him--in front of the cameras; a well-kept secret from Charlie's Vietnam days is revealed; he reluctantly finds himself at the center of a friend's cliff-hanging confirmation process for Secretary of Defense....And Senator Martin begins to learn that politics in an era of spin, marketing, and vicious personal assaults can be as treacherous--and life-threatening--as combat was.
Finally, Charlie Martin must confront the two greatest challenges of his life--a political opponent who has no scruples and a dazzling, unconventional woman who loves him but is appalled by his life's work. Charlie's dilemma is one that has come to haunt contemporary American politics: Is it possible to be a good politician and a good man? Can you live in the public glare and still construct a habitable life?
No observer of contemporary politics has a clearer eye than Joe Klein, or can so effortlessly show the moral complexities that arise when public and private lives intertwine. Here, in his superb new novel, he takes a good man's attempt to come to terms with the harsh new realities of the modern political arena--and gives us a book that reverberates with truth about ourselves.
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Senator Charlie Martin, the slightly John McCain-like war hero of Joe Klein's The Running Mate, thought getting blown up in Vietnam was tough, but presidential politics proves the uglier jungle battlefield. Charlie blows his challenge to the incumbent, Jack Stanton (the delightfully slimy protagonist of Klein's roman à clef about Clinton's 1992 campaign), by refusing to smear Stanton for his affair with his wife's stylist, "the Happy Hairdresser." Then he brushes a campaign worker's breast--by accident--and gets punched on TV by her irate dad. Charlie does, however, revive his career by springing a veteran named Mustafa from a Vietnamese prison, and soon he's on Stanton's shortlist for veep and politicking to get an old war buddy named defense secretary. In this political novel par excellence, skeletons dance out of practically everybody's closet. Charlie's vivid trip back to Vietnam turns up a son he sired in a one-night stand; his wickedly droll, still healthy Southern press secretary is HIV positive; Mustafa has society reentry problems; major politicians turn out to be closet pill heads, boozehounds, or rapists of staffers ("Apparently, she suffered an involuntary loss of her virginity in the Cannon Building"). Even Republicans hoard deadly secrets. And politics isn't about policies, it's about artful Machiavellian maneuvers, backstabbing, and feeding scandals to ignorant, arrogant press know-it-alls. (You can't say Klein lacks chutzpah!) Ornery but honest Charlie finds politics "becoming more noxious and also more sterile as the century staggered home." One politico says, "It's a big game hunt, and we're the game.... The jungle'll be left to pygmies and hyenas."
Klein hails and nails Stanton/Clinton for skillful cynicism: "He was all yak-butter and horseshit," says Charlie. Fans of Primary Colors will love this book's raffish authenticity. But the canvas is vaster--the Vietnam chapter is as evocative as the American ones--the story sprawls Tom Wolfe-ishly, and Klein is not just scoring points, he's a moralist hunting big game. --Tim AppeloFrom the Publisher:
In The Running Mate, the author of Primary Colors once again takes readers on a wickedly observant and compulsively entertaining journey behind the scenes of contemporary politics. This time Joe Klein's novel is about Senator Charlie Martin, a Vietnam War hero and hot political property. Facing an election year in this era of spin, marketing, and vicious personal assaults, Martin is forced to confront the two biggest challenges of his life: a charismatic political opponent who has no scruples and a dazzling, difficult woman who loves him, but is appalled by his life's work. Klein describes the novel as "being about the difficulties of being a politician and a human being at the same time."
Joe Klein, a journalist for nearly three decades, is currently Washington correspondent for The New Yorker magazine. In addition to Primary Colors, his previous books include Payback: Five Marines After Vietnam and Woody Guthrie: A Life.
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Book Description Random House Large Print, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0375430741