Richard Ben Cramer’s “What It Takes” is now widely considered the greatest modern presidential campaign book. But the judgments of Washington’s elite come late to Maryland’s remote Eastern Shore, and the book’s place in political writing has dawned only very late on its author. When it came out in the heat of the 1992 campaign, the tome dropped with a heavy thud. It was viewed as eccentric, affected, too long for its boring subject. Who, four years after he lost, wanted to read 100 pages on Dick Gephardt’s childhood?
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