Lovers of political memoirs may be dissatisfied, but readers interested in media and politics will learn a lot from the...

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THE IMPROBABLE STORY OF HOW A DISHEVELED FILM PROFESSOR BECAME THE FIRST OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE VIDEOGRAPHER

Charming memoir by the first official White House videographer.

Chaudhary, a punk rocker turned film professor, joined the Obama campaign in 2007, thanks to the aid of a friend on the New Media team, not even expecting the candidate would win the primaries. With a mission to gain the junior senator from Illinois as much YouTube exposure as possible, Chaudhary and associates developed a rapid-fire method of documentary filmmaking, capturing Obama in as many lights as possible: making campaign stops, chatting with volunteers and potential voters, taking the stage before a speech, making major addresses, etc. In the process, Obama’s team developed a new style of campaigning suited to the Internet age, a style that future campaigns will surely try to replicate. The point was not to make viral videos, but rather a large and diverse array of little films that could appeal to the broadest cross section of the electorate and show off the candidate’s “authenticity” to best effect. Chaudhary became one of Obama’s constant companions; fortunately for him, Obama enjoyed his slightly warped sense of humor and offbeat style, so much so that, after the election, he was invited to join the transition team and then forge a place for himself in the White House. Half joking, the author refers to the position, which he left in 2011, as being like the president’s wedding videographer, “if every day is a wedding.” Chaudhary was also responsible for creating and maintaining the popular West Wing Week, a weekly video roundup of White House events on whitehouse.gov. While he is amusing on the subjects of his modest “rise to power” and what he saw at the White House, the author writes with some passion about the history, uses and craft of political image-making, and he seems more comfortable offering pithy critiques of campaign aids than political gossip.

Lovers of political memoirs may be dissatisfied, but readers interested in media and politics will learn a lot from the lessons Chaudhary took away from his experiences.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9572-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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