Thursday, September 23, 2010

Narrative Panache: Game Change

Respected historian Stephen Ambrose liked to tell an anecdote about having been contacted by President Eisenhower to write his biography. However, as reported by Richard Rayner in a New Yorker article, such a request probably never took place. John Eisenhower, son of the late president, said that Ambrose had a "tendency to sacrifice fact to narrative panache."

One of my favorite contemporary "nonfiction" authors, Bob Woodward, writes in a style that often reads like a novel. More than a few people have questioned the veracity of Woodward's reporting. Still, at the end of the day, I can walk away from a work by Ambrose or Woodward feeling that I was given a fair and accurate telling of history.

Not so much the case with this year's Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Heilemann and Halperin's previous effort, The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, was more political analysis than reportage. So, one could forgive the subjective musings which were freely mixed in with factual content. However, Game Change is a purported to be a chronicle of events leading up to Barack Obama's victory over John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Thus, I held the duo to a different standard in terms of accuracy.

...Full Post at Edward Copeland on Film

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