Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman - Book Review

To be frank, I had not heard of this book till yesterday, notwithstanding the fact that it was released in 1996; thanks to an endorsement to the book from John Oliver during his show Last Week Tonight. The book is about a twelve year old kid from Wisconsin, Judson Moon, who decides to run for president following persuasion from his friend Lane. While Moon himself does not have any bright ideas nor is he aware of any of the issues faced by the country, Lane decides to be his spin doctor and manage his campaign, to make him attractive to the electorate; by selecting Moon's elderly neighbour, an African American woman as his running mate, selecting an attractive girl to be the First Lady (First Babe, as he had put it) and yes, push for the Constitutional Amendment removing age restrictions to become president.

The book is very relevant today considering Donald Trump's campaign that has been going on. The author had very beautifully brought out how one could appealing to the electorate just by telling things they wish to hear, regardless of whether it is practical or not (I shall share some of the quotes from the book below). Moreover, I feel this book is a very good read for children across the world considering, kids love to see one of them outsmart the grown-ups (the theme of most Japanese anime) and particularly a good read for young Americans as it does broadly explain how the complex US electoral system works. An excellent thing the author has done is that he revised the book in 2012, to make it more relevant for today (removing references to archaic technology, for instance); I wondered at first as to how there were references to Barack Obama and also the 2000 election where George Bush became president despite Al Gore securing more votes but then, it was a good move to update the book with these incidents (especially, the 2000 election is an excellent example for explaining the electoral college system).

'It's more important for you to look as if you know what you're talking about than it is for you to know what you're talking about.' - Page 27

'To win this election I became everything I always hated. I turned into a liar, a fake, a fraud. The saddest part is, it worked.' - Judson Moon

'Your candidacy is a joke! Your running mate is a grown-up, you hypocrite! You don't know anything about anything. You're going to make all kids look bad!' A group of boys jumped on Krantz and started punching him. - This is exactly what happens at a Trump rally when you criticise him or in social media; where any constructive criticism is met with abuse by pro-Trump people. Those who backed the leave campaign in the EU membership referendum in UK behaved pretty much the same way.

Anyway, I would get back to the book rather than digressing (for my recent piece on Trump on Astute: Thoughts, click here). The biggest problem I had with the book was the character of Lane. While every other kid in the book actually behaved like a kid, Lane had the maturity to understand voters' psychology and in fact, would have made a proper spin doctor for a serious politician. It could have been much better if this character had been an adult, after all, this book wasn't devoid of adults, the running-mate was an adult, this character could've been an acquaintance too, like his father's friend or so. While I understand the whole story is satirical, I can't help but ignore, what kind of a school principal allows a student to make anti-homework statements in school and be proud of the student?

Considering today's context, with Trump's joke of a campaign as background, this book has been thoroughly enjoyable, although I am unsure as to whether this book would be as enjoyable once this charade by Trump is over.

Coming to rating the book, it was a light read (took me just ninety minutes to read) with a decent story livened up by the 2016 US election. I would award the book a rating of seven on ten. Thank you, John Oliver, for the suggestion.

Rating - 7/10

Have a nice day,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...