The title of this review is : Biased account, but with inside access,
|By||D. J. Nardi "TurtleDom" (Washington, DC) -|
What do I mean by "sympathetic"? I don't certainly mind if an author admires his subject or favors his policy choices. However, Alter seems determined to find no fault with Obama and dismiss all of his failures as the fault of others. In the introduction, Alter seems to blame Obama's first-year woes on the president's overconfidence in the - get this - the American people. Too often, voters are portrayed as dumb, Republicans as devious, and Obama's policy choices as all brilliant, if misunderstood. However, let's be honest - there are many people who have honest concerns about Obama's policies. I myself agree with some (foreign policy), but not others (healthcare). This sort of bias in The Promise: President Obama, Year One is simply unacceptable in real a history. (Z: the cheapest part of the Imus interview was Alter mentioning that Carla Bruni, Sarkozy's wife, told Michelle Obama that sometimes her husband's being president limits their time for love making...Alter tries to act as if Imus had got him to spill the beans as he admits it was the Queen of England Bruni told Michelle they made wait while they had sex, but when Alter promises a few other hot little items like that you know this was a contrived 'teaser'; any cheap come-on to sell a book is what this sounded like. As for "Republicans as devious," as it says above, I had to laugh when I found this review because that was the exact impression I got when Alter included in his interview, in his always-disparaging treatment toward Republicans, that Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt loves this book...... "because he can exploit it.") This type of "journalistic history" book is really built around a few revealing anecdotes, without much substance or depth. Probably the biggest reveal is that Greg Craig was offered a judgeship in an attempt to get him to leave the White House quietly. Of course, if you live outside the Beltway, you probably don't know who Greg Craig even is. There are also some interesting comparisons between Obama and Bill Clinton by staffers who worked for both. However, frankly, you could probably read about the most interesting tidbits on Politico's or other political blogs. I wouldn't recommend buying the book unless you're a political junkie. (Z: another point Alter enjoyed driving home was the amount of bad language used by Obama and the rest at the White House staff, which he seemed highly favorable towards...like it was some badge of honor and fun information we don't already know) The reviewer goes on....
Overall, this is a 3-star book - with that third star added in recognition of Alter's hard work getting access and anecdotes. As a study of Obama's first year, it falls short (end of review). (Z: I'd say that the whole Obama first year falls short, not just in this "study", but to say Alter had to work hard at getting access when they love him at the White House for all the pro Obama pieces he writes at Newsweek is a bit of a stretch, don't you think? I mean, really...how hard is it to give access to someone they know will paint their hero in a favorable light?? Wikipedia says about Alter that he views FDR as the "savior of American democracy and capitalism"...I rest my case.)
Unsurprisingly, Amazon's "editorial review" (non-biased?!) said this!: "This brilliant blend of journalism and history offers the freshest reporting and most acute perspective on the biggest story of our time. It will shape impressions of the Obama presidency and of the man himself for years to come." Oh, and here was an interesting review:
"Could only stomach a few pages of this book. Thank God it was given to me versus buying it. In fact they were giving them away by the hundreds. I guess that is one way to stay on the best seller list." (Z: that's true..hmmm).