Primary Colors

Primary Colors

Infobox Book
name = Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Joe Klein
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Political novel
publisher = Random House
release_date = January 16, 1996
english_release_date =
media_type = Hardcover and Paperback
pages = 366 (hc)
isbn = ISBN 0-679-44859-4 (hc)
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics" is a 1996 novel by "Anonymous" (later revealed to be journalist Joe Klein [] ).

Roman à clef

"Primary Colors" is a "roman à clef" (French for "novel with a key," real-life events in the guise of fiction) inspired by U.S. President Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992. While many characters and events in the novel are based on reality, much of the book is fictional. The book centers on Henry Burton, a black campaign aide for southern governor Jack Stanton (thought to represent Bill Clinton). It is thought to be influenced by an earlier "roman à clef" of American politics, Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" (1946).

There is a sequel of sorts to the novel (also by Joe Klein but not anonymously), "The Running Mate", published in 2000.

Plot summary

Campaigner and former Congressional worker Henry Burton is asked to join the presidential campaign of Southern governor Jack Stanton. At the start of the campaign, things appear to be going smoothly; there are individuals on board, and moments of disagreement on campaign issues are few and far between, the governor really does appear to care—for people and legislation—and goes out of his way to appear different from the rest of the Democratic field.

But the situation begins to cloud as details of Stanton's involvement in an anti-war protest in Chicago and an alleged affair with his wife's hairdresser are revealed by the press. Seeing his political future slip away, and his fellow candidates preparing to replace him, Stanton makes a final, desperate pitch. He survives, and manages to tread water the rest of the way, helped by the mistakes of his opponents. But as Stanton slides towards success, campaign manager Burton increasingly feels disillusioned—and is also continuing to see a campaign worker on the side. Matters come to a head, and Burton is at last forced to choose between idealism and realism.

Fictional characters and real-life inspirations

* Governor Jack Stanton - Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas and later President
* His wife Susan Stanton - Hillary Clinton
* Campaign manager Henry Burton - George Stephanopoulos
* Campaign strategist Richard Jemmons - James Carville
* Campaign adviser Daisy Green - Mandy Grunwald and/or Dee Dee Myers
* Campaign chief Howard Ferguson - Harold Ickes, Jr.
* New York Governor Orlando Ozio - Mario Cuomo, NY Governor
* His son Jimmy Ozio - Andrew Cuomo
* Senator Charlie Martin - Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey
* Former New Hampshire Senator Lawrence Harris - Former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas/Former California Governor Jerry Brown
* Wisconsin Senator Bart Nilson - Iowa Senator Tom Harkin
* Former Florida Governor Freddy Picker - Former California Governor Jerry Brown/Former Florida Governor Reubin O'Donovan Askew/Former Iowa Senator and Governor Harold Hughes/Ross Perot
* NYC Mayor Richmond Rucker - NYC Mayor David Dinkins
* Rev. Luther Charles - Rev Jesse Jackson
* House Majority Leader Adam Larkin - House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt
* Senate Majority Leader Donny O'Brien - Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill
* Jack Stanton's suspected lover Cashmere McLeod - Gennifer Flowers
* Susan Stanton's adviser Lucille Kauffman - Susan Thomasescite book
last = Milton
first = Joyce
title = The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton
publisher = HarperCollins
date = 2000
pages = 228
isbn = 0688177727
* Campaign defender Libby Holden - Betsey Wright/Vince Foster Picker is believed to be based on four politicians, Brown, Hughes, Askew and Perot, for the following reasons:
* Like Brown and Perot, Picker entered the race late.
* Like Brown, Picker entered the race too late to stop the existing favorite from winning the Democratic nomination.
* Picker's biography is similar to Askew's.
* Picker was a former drug user, whereas Harold Hughes was an alcoholic.


Prior to Klein's confession, writers for "Newsweek", "The Washington Post", and "The New York Times" speculated that the author might be one of the following:
*George Stephanopoulos
*Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau
*former "Los Angeles Times" editor Mary Louise Oates & her husband, Robert Shrum
*campaign consultant Mandy Grunwald and her novelist sister Lisa Grunwald
*Mark Halperin
*Sidney Blumenthal

Unmasking of anonymous

Several people, including former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet and, later, Vassar professor Donald Foster correctly identified Klein as the novel's author, based on a literary analysis of the book and Klein's previous writing. Klein denied authoring the book and publicly condemned Foster. [ [ - Books - Don Foster enlightens readers with 'Author Unknown' - December 6, 2000 ] ] [ [,,2239268,00.html John Mullan on author anonymity | By genre | Guardian Unlimited Books ] ] Klein denied authorship again in "Newsweek", speculating that another writer wrote it. "Washington Post" Style editor David von Drehle, in an interview, asked Klein if he was willing to stake his journalistic credibility on his denial, to which Klein agreed. [ [ The Media’s True Colors] , Tod Lindberg, "The Weekly Standard", July 29, 1996]

Related film

* "The War Room", a documentary of Clinton's 1992 campaign.

ee also

* Politics in fiction
* Primary Colors (film)


External links

* [ A Joe Klein interview on Bill Clinton]
* [ Publication history and critical reactions]

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