Family Politics

Family Politics

From the dust jacket:

Washington insider John Buckley makes an extraordinary fiction debut with a comic novel about a world he knows better than anyone else. Family Politics tells the story of a patrician Hatfields-and-McCoys feud fought on the campaign trail and in the pages of the tabloids as two members from different wings of an infamous dynasty become rival candidates in a New York senatorial campaign. The novel is both a devastating satire of modern politics in all its absurd glory and a hilarious portrait of family rivalries and celebrity-making, American style.

Here are the campaign misadventures of the once-celebrated, now ridiculed Daley clan, a dynasty that has been battered a few too many times by the press, the unions, and bloodthirsty ex-spouses. Charles Daley has always tried to keep his distance from his eccentric bunch of relatives – inventors, mystics, womanizing race-car drivers – whose brushes with greatness, from Picasso to Cronkite to Menudo, are as commonplace as tabloid headlines. But when Charles’ brother, a dogmatic supply-sider, challenges their uncle, liberal Republican Senator Nate Stanton, the allure of the simultaneous vicious campaign and family feud is too great. Taking charge, Charles marshals the bleary-eyed, battle-scarred forces – aunts, uncles, dozens of cousins and hangers-on – to wage battle, hoping for some luck, a bit of the old Daley magic, and a thirty-second spot that smears Uncle Nate just right. With old-fashioned mudslinging and state-of-the-art media consulting, the battle heats up into a riotous down-to-the-wire climax where all the rules are abandoned and politics – and families – revert to their most primal nature.

Praise For John Buckley’s Family Politics

“Buckley is a writer of charm and wit and even some gravity. And the most pleasant thing of all about Family Politics is the grace of Buckley’s prose, which announces itself modestly but gradually makes a claim for itself… Fiction needs people this well attuned to the worlds of power and politics; politics needs people this expressive and this knowing. It will be interesting to see how long John Buckley can satisfy both families.”

Marjorie Williams, The Washington Post

“’Family Politics tells the stort of a big, rich, talented, celebrated, privileged, Roman Catholic, eccentric, debauched, self-obsessed and devoutly political family that turns on itself when Edward Daley, a right-wing Wall Street Wunderkind and disabled Vietnman War veteran (his own men shot off his arm) decides to challenge his maternal uncle, New York Senator Nate Stanton, in the Republican primary.

“The book’s narrator, Charles Daley, is a punk-rock critic for The Downtown News (Mr. Buckley was punk-rock critic for for the now defunct Soho News) until he signs on to run his big brother’s campaign.

“Though the book is a melange rather than a roman a clef, political insiders will delight in finding the references that are hidden throughout, like Ninas in a Hirschfeld cartoon.

“Mr. Buckley has conjured up a clever, mordant, fun and funny story that also functions as an effective palliative to all the pompous political prose the public is swallowing this summer of a Presidential election year.”

Clifford D. May, The New York Times Book Review

“This engaging, high-spirited, endearingly goofy novel has a plot so complicated and incident-ridden that now human could ever have lived through a tenth of it. It features many of the New York area’s leading politicians and media figures, but mixes up their jobs and genealogies to such an extent that part of the fun is figuring out exactly who is who… You would be hard-pressed to find as good-natured a novel with which to while away the time this summer.”

John Podhoretz, The Wall Street Journal

“This is a wild breeze of a book in which John Buckley proves he is one Republican who doesn’t believe in traditional family values. The result of the apostasy is surprising, delightful, and funny. The question is: Can Buckley go home again now that he has exposed the link between punk rock and GOP politics?”

Joe Klein, author of Primary Colors

“Family Politics is witty and knowing about big-time politics and the press. It makes the reader feel privy to inside information on a rich and rambunctious family who are very entertaining and bear a certain resemblance to a real-life dynasty.”

New York Mayor Edward I. Koch


  1. […]  I believe The Geography Lesson is stronger than either of my two well-reviewed prior novels, Family Politics or Statute of Limitations.  It’s a fun read, if I do say so […]

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