Cover image for If men were angels
If men were angels
Karaim, Reed.
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Publication Information:
New York : Norton, 1999.
Physical Description:
311 pages ; 25 cm
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The tumultuous presidential bandwagon of Thomas Crane, a charismatic but elusive senator, presents reporter Cliff O'Connell with a career-making opportunity that dissolves into a nightmare. In combing the past for the real Thomas Crane, O'Connell becomes the bearer of a chilling secret.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cliff O'Connell gets his first chance at political coverage when his newspaper assigns him to trail the presidential campaign of Thomas Crane, U.S. senator from Illinois, a Democrat whose charisma has taken him a long way from his small-town roots. O'Connell stumbles onto a career-making story when he discovers a secret from Crane's past that could wreck his chances for winning the presidency just as the candidate is pulling ahead in the polls. If O'Connell writes the story, he also risks a fragile second chance with an ex-girlfriend, Robin Winters, who now works for the campaign. Karaim's riveting novel captures the moral struggles of the reporter and, probably, a decent man compelled to cover a youthful error. Karaim, a former political reporter who covered the 1992 presidential election for Knight-Ridder, brings to life the grinding tedium of a campaign, the cynicism of the press, the constant spin tactics of the candidate's staff, and the enduring longing of the American public to believe in the candidates. Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

An absorbing political drama about a golden boy presidential candidate and the sympathetic reporter who brings him down, Karaim's debut is certainly timely, and the issues it raises are provocative. The moral lapseÄthe "sin"Äof liberal Illinois congressman Thomas Crane is something that 33-year-old Montana-born reporter Cliff O'Connell discovers reluctantly, though breaking the story will gain him entr‚e to the privileged Ivy League world of newspaper journalism. Working in Washington, D.C., for a newspaper syndicate based in San Diego, O'Connell is assigned to cover Crane's campaign; his main worry is that his ex-lover, Robin Winter, is on the staff of the Crane camp. But as the campaign catches fire and O'Connell begins to respect Crane, he uncovers parts of the candidate's past overlooked by other reporters, finally unearthing the potential bombshell. Agonizing over whether to run the story, Cliff makes a personal rather than a professional decision because of something Robin saysÄand then he must live with the consequences. Karaim, who covered the 1992 Democratic campaign for Knight-Ridder, invests the novel with the authoritative details of nonfiction: observations about the nature of journalism, an insider's view of a political organization in the throes of a presidential race; the behavior of the American public when faced with scandal and celebrity. Karaim's attention to the development of O'Connell's character as he faces a serious moral dilemma elevates the novel from legal thriller to psychological drama. As O'Connell feels the pressure of "desperate bargains struck with ourselves and others," the sword of Damocles that's been hanging over this novel finally falls. Indeed, the foreshadowing here is heavyÄthe narrative conceit is that the reader knows the Thomas Crane story, but not the untold tale of the reporter's struggleÄbut the writing itself brings to the novel's melancholy intelligence a kind of worldly, journalistic know-how that rescues the novel from an excess of angst. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A campaign worker finds a disquieting secret about charismatic Senator Thomas Crane. "More like Presumed Innocent than Primary Colors," observes the publicist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.