Sunday, June 22, 2008

What Happened

I had been eagerly awaiting my copy of this book, thinking it would fill in missing gaps, answer questions, firmly end all (or at least some) of the 'what actually happened?' questions I had about Iraq, the Valerie Plame Wilson leak and Scooter Libby.

In short, this book gives you no insider details, no memorable quotes, no revelations that pull back the curtain and show you 'inside the White House'. Instead, you get pages of Scott McClellan talking about how he stood up to hazing in his university days, how Scott felt confused at times, and endless quotes Scott puts in from pundits and reporters alike who repeatedly call Scott a 'good man'.

Don't get me wrong- I DO think he was put in a difficult position, I do think that he did the best job he could- given the administration he worked in and the hand he was dealt. But does this book deliver anything new? Not at all.

The hype for this book was far better than the book itself. I finished reading it feeling like the movie trailer of this book (because let's face it- they will turn this into a movie at some point), will be the best part of the film. There's just not ENOUGH in the book for the book to be worth reading. Scott hints at possible areas of interest- Colin Powell's views on Iraq, Condi Rice and her enabling ways, the secrecy involving Dick Cheney and just how out of the loop George W. Bush really was on some issues (hello Katrina? I'm talking about you)- but never follows through with any of them. As soon as you find yourself getting interested in the book, it backs away and returns to the dry narrative of Scott discussing yet another time he was "in the Oval".

I suspect if you want a book to lecture you on how to improve Washington, this may be a winner for you. If you are looking for a book that gives you dirt on what happened during formative Bush years in the White House- skip it. I highly recommend Bob Woodward's trilogy "Plan of Attack", "Bush at War" and "State of Denial" instead. These books are far superior in regards to information shared, insider views and writing style.

What Happened, indeed.


Dan Mega said...

I was considering buying this but not after reading this review.

Pam said...

huh...I was hoping there would be more insider information in the book too. Thanks for the review Brandy.

Jonny said...

I really enjoy your blog,
it's very interesting.
Well feel free to read/comment my blog.
I'd greatly appreciate it.

K.C. said...

Geez, you do a great review.. giving every angle of it... Yeah, I think I just might have to skip this one... Thanks for the insight.. Kayce

Misfit said...

Ugh, does anyone else have a problem with all these books? McClellan is another guy who was in the thick of a lot of screwups, who has now decided to rewrite what happened so he looks like a noble crusader tilting at windmills. At least Richard Clark was more interesting about it.

brandy said...

Dan- Don't buy it. Seriously, the Bob Woodward books are far better. I'm not sure what it says about the US government when a reporter has more insider dirt on the White House than a guy who worked in the upper levels and had an office in the west wing.

Pam- It's just disappointing. It's like, "Speed 2" of the book world. I miss Keanu Reeves in good movies.

jonny- okay.

k.c- Thanks! It would be an entertaining library pick, but not one I would suggest buying.

misfit- I agree- I did like Richard Clark's better, but still felt it fell short. I would love a Colin Powell book, a juicy one, but something tells me he's too good of a man to write it.

Tiffany said...

I love your blog! I don't think this would be a book that would be fit for me. It's just really not my style and reading this review makes me even more aware of that! ♥