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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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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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

In the name of truth, journalists pursue every secret, invade every corner, and publish so that the public can know the simple facts and decide the truth for themselves. With this standard firmly in hand, a young reporter follows a distinguished senator who is making a presidential bid. Sharing an interest in Civil War history, the two connect as the campaign unfolds. Soon, though, a niggling inconsistency begins to prey on the reporter's mind. With his feelings complicated by the presence of an ex-lover working as an adviser to the candidate, the reporter teases out a distant fact whose truth is proved by a teenager with a face much like the candidate's own. In his first novel, Karaim delivers a story that is searingly realistic and exquisitely written. A Knight-Ridder journalist who has covered prominent candidates, Karaim reports with laconic veracity about the stress, excitement, and boredom of a campaign. Of the recent crop of Washington novels, this may well be the best. A sure bet for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/99.]ÄBarbara Conaty, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.