Quick disclaimer: I worked in public policy and was government-relations (i.e., lobbying)-adjacent for a number of years. I have a lot of opinions and biases from those years, based on personal experience, which inevitably color anything I read on politics/political life.
The authors of We’re with Nobody, Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian, are opposition (“oppo”) researchers. They are, in short, the guys who dig up the dirt. They roam about the country following up on rumors and suppositions and allegations, trying to figure out what’s wrong with the guy their client is running against – and, usually, also what’s wrong with their client. In the cynical field of politics, these guys are the ultimate cynics. They accept nothing without facts and will go to extraordinary lengths and undertake serious personal risks to track those facts down – risk that have included guns and threats and being followed around by scary looking characters.
With a set-up like that, how can the book not be fascinating?
I don’t know. But it wasn’t I didn’t finish the book – simply couldn’t get into it. The book is narrated in alternating voice by the two authors. I made it through two chapters of each author then skimmed. Why? Because the two chapters I read sounded so much like echoes of one another that I couldn’t gin up enough interest to keep reading.
This strong reaction is probably partly due to burnout from the current campaigns, although the bigger part is likely because the book read like a justification for the men’s job. In a short span each author mentioned multiple times that this is just a job, they don’t have any personal feelings about what they investigate, and that they are looking for truth not dirt. They can’t understand why people get suspicious or cranky when they trundle in to local courthouses and records offices because America has a right to know what is what about the people who want to govern, by God…
In theory, I agree. In practice, it’s way more complicated – and less pretty and public-interest-spirited – than that. The book felt like an apologia for the procedural status quo. In and of itself, that wouldn’t necessarily turn me off – but the fact that it was done in a largely repetitive manner did.
Another person, another time and maybe this book will resonate. For me, not so much.
A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable). If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.