Appreciating Richard Ben Cramer

Last week, Ben Smith at Politico published a long (for Politico) and terrific piece on Richard Ben Cramer, the veteran journalist and author of the seminal 1992 campaign book, "What it Takes." The book is an unparalleled look at the modern political campaign and what it does to presidential hopefuls. Among a certain ilk--chiefly 30-something political reporters like Ben and me--Cramer is revered as a master reporter and writer, mainly on the strength of this book. One of the surprises in Ben's piece, at least for me, was discovering that Cramer seems to be unaware of this--he's something of a recluse. Ezra Klein, political journalist and RBC admirer of a slightly younger vintage, has had the inspired idea of declaring today "Richard Ben Cramer Appreciation Day." So let me add my wholehearted support.


If you're any sort of political junkie and have not read this book, do yourself a favor--buy it right now and read it. Don't be put off by the length (it's 1,047 pages). It's so good you won't notice at all. In fact, here's an idea: Just chuck your other New Year's resolutions, which you probably weren't going to keep anyway, and resolve to read "What it Takes" in the new year. I guarantee you'll keep the promise and enjoy yourself greatly in the process.
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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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