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'Game Change' portrays different sides to John, Elizabeth Edwards

A new book paints stinging portraits of Democrat John Edwards as an "ego monster," his mistress as an eccentric flirt and his wife, Elizabeth, as a fiery presence whose private behavior was often at odds with her public image.

The depictions come from "Game Change," an insiders' look at the 2008 presidential campaign by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Much of the attention on the book has come from its revelations about Sarah Palin, the Clintons and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But some of the most riveting portions deal with Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina.

Those are excerpted in a New York magazine cover story headlined, "The shocking, untold, you-can't-make-this-up story of the fall of John Edwards."

"It's an ugly tale. It does not reflect well on them at all," Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist from Raleigh who worked on Edwards' 1998 Senate campaign, told the Observer on Monday.

The book is the first of two books bound to further tarnish Edwards.

"The Politician," by former aide Andrew Young, will claim that Edwards, not Young, fathered the child of Edwards' mistress. It's scheduled for publication in three weeks.

"Game Change" is based on more than 200 off-the-record interviews with key players in the 2008 campaign. It describes the backstage drama as Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter became a sore point in his campaign, straining relationships with aides as well as his wife.

Aides had begun seeing a change in Edwards years earlier, after he made Al Gore's short list of vice presidential candidates in 2000.

"Many of his friends started noticing a change - the arrival of what one of his aides referred to as "the ego monster," Heilemann and Halperin write.

To read the complete article, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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