Book Review. 4 Stars. Campaign Zen. Author Peter Prasad.

4 star reviewPeter PrasadCampaign ZenGenre: American History, Politics, and Very Clever Writing (is there a category for this?)
Magdalena VandenBerg

Right. Where to start?

Campaign Zen draws you into the world of the American history and politics in a way you’ve probably never experienced before. I certainly hadn’t.

This isn’t your standard textbook dry as a bone snooze fest of a history lesson. Quite the contrary, reading Prasad’s Campaign Zen is like eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream with dollops of wasabi mustard. Heston Blumenthal, could create something deliciously tasty out of this unusual combination, Prasad would too.

Unusual, and like something you’ve never read before you’ll either love Campaign Zen, or take one bite, and think this isn’t for me. But note, interestingly you do have to eat a least 27 mouthfuls, that’s 27 pages, before you reach the table of contents. I’m not sure why the writer used this strategy, but I digress.

While reading Campaign Zen, I did ponder the question, is this book out of reach, or interest for those not entrenched, or directly affected by the American political system, and all its shenanigans? Or, where will Campaign Zen sit for those of us who have a tepid interest in history dating back to the Romans, Colonials, Brits, Dutch, Irish…the first Americans?

As a New Zealander living a good twelve-hour plane ride from the West Coast of America, I didn’t feel this book was out of my league subject wise. Regardless of my intrigue in the politics of Republicans and Democratic politics, and the vast sums of money it takes to fuel American political campaigns – Prasad’s Campaign Zen is pure gold for anyone interested in American history and politics told in a highly entertaining and creative poetic way.

While reading Campaign Zen a little voice kept growing louder inside my head. What started as a whisper ended as a declaration, this guy is a modern day Shakespeare! Now as wiki states Shakespeare is widely regards “the greatest writer in the English language,” please don’t all gasp at once – it’s Prasad’s brilliant turn of phrase, wit, and a reverence to the bizarre to emphasise a point that left me brimming with admiration, and also slightly muddled because my brain runs at a speed slower and was desperately trying to keep up with the genius of the creative flow.

At times there was too much witty repartee going on, I had to take a break and go and do something completely inane to clear my stuffed and exhausted brain of all the Prasad’isms.

Campaign Zen is that kind of book. A work of art, worthy of respect and admiration not only for its political and historical content, but also for the way Campaign Zen is constructed. Prasad’s unique writing style and use of “doggerel” …”comic verse composed in irregular rhythm” left me whirling at what it must be like to be him when he’s hyped up in that creative moment.

If someone were to test me on the in’s and out’s of Campaign Zen I’d flunk. Only because there is so much information told in a highly descriptive, entertaining, and usual way, I just couldn’t keep up with Prasad’s brilliant mind. I know Stephen Fry could.

So, why didn’t I escalate from 4 to 5 stars? I liked, admired, respected, and was highly amused by Campaign Zen. I also found it slightly irritating, and annoying. And, its not you it’s me…I just didn’t fall in love with it. But that’s art for you. Prasad’s Campaign Zen is political, historical, written in a highly clever style, and its driven by a passion to get people motivated to vote. After reading Campaign Zen you’ll want a drink, and more importantly you’ll never want to waste your right to vote. Prasad tells us why your vote, and every vote is a salute to freedom and democracy.

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