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Primary Colors by Joe Klein

Primary Colors (1996)

by Joe Klein

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,082343,179 (3.46)17
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
This is a presidential campaign version of Noises Off: when you think nothing else can go wrong, something else does, but the campaign somehow staggers on. This is more because of the author's thumb on the scale than because of any closeness to the actual Clinton campaign in 1992, which had it's problems (as everyone can remember) but not all of those particular problems. The central characters are, likewise, clearly based on the Clintons, but not in the most balanced of ways. (Their subsequent history bears out this divergence: it's hard to see Susan as a Senator and then Secretary of State in the Clinton mold.)

That being said, it's a fun light read in an election season. The episodic disaster structure points up its close relation to farce, albeit with some black humour elements. As a political novel, it's unlikely to stand up as well as, say, Trollope's Palliser novels, or even Dobbs' House of Cards, though. ( )
  jsburbidge | Nov 4, 2016 |
Boring, boring, boring. An obvious "let's whip something out while the subject is hot, and make a few bucks" kind of effort. I repeat, boring, boring, boring. Joe Klien (you should have left it "Anonymous") can certainly do better. There will be others who like it and that's good -- writers should make money, after all. ( )
  McHenrysPlace | Oct 3, 2016 |
Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, Joe Klein's anonymously published novel based on a fictionalized Clinton '92 campaign, covers the drama and day-to-day victories and defeats of politicking in the early 1990s. Those familiar with Clinton's campaign will enjoy finding the references to political movers and shakers from that period, but the story is capable of entertaining on its own while asking the question of how far a campaign must go, which values a candidate can sacrifice, to gain power. Klein's characters are fully-realized people, with flaws and goals, capable of making mistakes while trying to make a difference. Though many of the references are dated, the characters are vibrant enough and the themes topical enough to keep the novel relevant. If you enjoy the 1998 movie and want a better story, do yourself a favor and read the book, especially for its cliffhanger ending. ( )
  DarthDeverell | May 22, 2016 |
running for Pres + Wife — Campaign set, true? Clintons!

A brilliant and penetrating look behind the scenes of modern American politics, Primary Colors is a funny, wise, and dramatic story with characters and events that resemble some familiar, real-life figures. When a former congressional aide becomes part of the staff of the governor of a small Southern state, he watches in horror, admiration, and amazement, as the governor mixes calculation and sincerity in his not-so-above-board campaign for the presidency.
  christinejoseph | Apr 15, 2016 |
I really liked this, much more than I was expecting to. The cliffhanger at the end was a little annoying but better than either of the alternative possibilities. It has stood the test of time quite well and it was interesting to draw parallels between Jack Stanton and the Obama administration. ( )
  CatherineJay | Dec 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
"Primary Colors" is an odd book. But maybe the oddest thing about it is how good it is. In spite of its sins it is far and away the best thing I have read about the 1992 campaign; it breaks all the rules and lives to tell about it.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Michael Lewis (Jan 28, 1996)
As long as it's in the muck and sticking reasonably close to the facts (and lies) of 1992, Primary Colors is great fun. The descriptions of the campaign trail, from the union-hall meetings to the rubber-chicken dinners, are superb, as is the portrayal of Stanton's relationship with his wife, Susan. It's only when Primary Colors departs from its tasty combo of imaginative journalism and insider politics that it becomes ordinary.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Klein, Joeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dorsman, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furnas, BrentRetold bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He was a big fellow, looking seriously pale on the streets of Harlem in deep summer.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679448594, Hardcover)

The famous -- or infamous -- roman a clef about the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. You've read the hype; now read the book.

Primary Colors has its rich rewards as a savvy insider's look at life on the stump. But it travels far beyond mere gossip and expose and discovers a convincing world of its own, peopled by smart cookies, nutcases, and wheeler-dealers, whose public and private lives illuminate each other -- sometimes by casting dark shadows. This story spans the novelistic spectrum from bedroom farce to high moral drama, and it paints a picture of the political state of the nation so vivid and authentic that one finds in it the deepest kind of truth -- the kind of truth that only fiction can tell.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:45 -0400)

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The electoral campaign of a Southern governor for the presidency of the United States. Narrated by a half-black campaign staffer, the novel follows the governor--ably assisted by his dynamic wife, a lawyer--as he mixes calculation with sincerity, dodges a draft-controversy bullet, gorges on barbecues, poaches off others' plates, seduces the occasional innocent bystander and confronts the resulting sex scandals.… (more)

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