What It Takes

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Evocative of Tom Wolfe’s THE RIGHT STUFF (1979) in its stream-of-consciousness style and of Hunter S. Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 1972 (1973) in its almost surrealistic tone, the book seeks answers to two basic questions. First, what manner of man would be so vain as to seek the office of President of the United States? Second, is success possible without sacrificing one’s privacy, humanity, even sanity? Cramer thinks not (and might have more aptly titled his tome WHATEVER IT TAKES). In his opinion, George Bush prevailed in 1988 precisely because he gave himself over totally to a tawdry process which turned him into a shill and a chameleon.

Gary Hart emerges as the book’s unlikely hero. A member of the transitional “silent generation” which came of age in the 1950’s, Hart’s visionary “New Ideas,” his ironic sense of humor and his contempt for politics-as-horse-race infuriated the media and got him branded as a weird loner with an identity problem. Cramer suggests that the Donna Rice affair may have been a mere flirtation, and that what really doomed Gary Hart’s candidacy was his refusal to sacrifice his freedom. Highly recommended, especially for political junkies.

Sources for Further Study

Chicago Tribune. June 28, 1992, XIV, p. 3.

The Christian Century. CIX, August 12, 1992, p. 731.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 12, 1992, p. 4.

The Nation. CCLV, October 26, 1992, p. 474.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVII, July 5, 1992, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIX, May 25, 1992, p. 44.

Time. CXL, July 13, 1992, p. 78.

The Times Literary Supplement. October 23, 1992, p. 24.

The Wall Street Journal. June 29, 1992, p. A12.

The Washington Post Book World. XXII, June 28, 1992, p. 1.