Pros:Reading books like this helps understand today's or yesteryear's politics. Devour and digest political books.
Cons:The book, being so long discourages potential readers. Two volumes may have been better.
The Bottom Line: I am surprised that the book, having been published in 1988 has not been reviewed yet. E-pinions was not around then. It's worth reading today is still relavent.
To know a little about what is going on in politics, one must read several newspapers on a daily basis and, more important still, books like "The Power Game by Hedrick Smith. One does not get much of the real story by merely watching TV. I have read newspapers fairly regularly for many years, but after reading this 999 page volume I realized how little of the behind the scenes action is revealed by the media.
Smith was a reporter for the New York Times for many years and this gave him access to the White House and to interviews with politicians and insiders. Presumably this is so, because those sources hoped for favorable treatment by the Fourth Estate, the subjects being members of the First Estate, at least for the duration.
Smith comes across to me as a basic critic of the former President, Ronald Reagan, but he seemed to try to be fair. One must not forget that Reagan was a Republican and Smith worked for the New York Times. The Greeks have a word for someone who is not interested in politics; that word is idiot.
In the book's twenty chapters there is a wealth of information, which is well indexed and footnoted to show sources. If one is not inclined to read such a long book, it is worthwhile to acquire it for the index alone. Because I was an adult during the Reagan administration many of the names were familiar to me, however, James A Baker and Howard Baker are easy to confuse. James was the chief of the White House Staff, and Howard was the Senate Majority Leader.
Listing, with individual analysies of the various players in the saga, makes for interesting reading because so many of them were strong personalities. The four star general, Haig did not seem to get along too well with many of the Reagan staff, but the detailing of how the team functioned is fascinating.
Edwin Meese had a reputation of being a weak manager when contrasted with Bakers "crisp, decisive style," as Smith put it. Just to name a few of the most prominent and lesser know actors remember
Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, CIA Director William Casey, Michael K. Deaver, and Senate Budget Commiottee Chairman Pete Domenici. Put them in the same pot, one can easily understand how lively things got.
In the first 113 pages of my 1988 edition, Smith discussed "The Nature of Power," with many sub-categories. Chapter 13 is entitled "The Coalition Game: The Heart of Governing. This is touched upon in this review to give you a sample of how analytical and incisive the author was. Smith did not just look and hear, he understood what was going on, and if he did not, he knew whom to telephone. If I tried to telephone Representative Edolphus Towns about the Toyota mess, how far would you think my call would get?
Upon reading this book one gets the feeling of being right in the White House or in the Senate Chamber, or in Iceland meeting Gorbachev.
The last chapter is called, "Governing: Why it doesn't Work Better."
This book should be assigned to all Political Science Students.
Read all 1 Reviews
Write a Review