Inside The West Wing by Paul Challen is a Good Book showcased in the Outpost 10F Library.
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Inside The West Wing: An Unauthorized Look At Television’s Smartest Show

Rating: Inside The West Wing by Paul Challen is a Good Book rated 2/5 by this reviewer.
Published: 2001
Author: Paul Challen
Review by: CL7 Amanda Sielu Paris

Usually the unauthorized books about shows are the better books of the series, but this one tried a little too hard I think. And I’m either really sad (shut-up) or this person needed to watch the show a bit closer. Paul Challen got a few facts wrong that were just enough to drive me up the wall and I don’t mind saying this the first paragraph of this review. I’m a huge fan of the show… I should be if I went out and tracked down all these unauthorized books of “The West Wing”. A little background… “The West Wing” is a show created by Aaron Sorkin about the staff of the President that works with him everyday. In this case, the President is Martin Sheen as Josiah “Jed” Bartlet whose family has been into politics since his ancestor was one of the signers of the “Declaration of Independence”. And yes… there is actually a Josiah Bartlet on the Declaration of Independence. That’s not what makes the show great though. It’s the dry humor they put into their everyday conversations and the political-realness they manage to make magic out of.

This book starts off talking about all the awards this show has won and the praise that it keeps receiving (which at this time in 2001 had just finished its first second season). Then it moves into the history of Aaron Sorkin went from writing “A Few Good Men” to episodes for “The West Wing”. This was, in theory, a good idea, but becomes a little redundant and drawn out throughout the chapter. The book moves on to talk about the press’ reaction to and keeps repeating ‘it’s just a show’. Well, duh! I think I knew that before I bought the book. The third chapter is really the highlight of the book as it explores the effect the show has had on the internet and talks with some creators of the biggest websites dedicated to the show. The author kind of ruins it and keeps asking each person the same question though and I got the feeling he only asked each person three questions and just expanded out by using big words. The book then touches on the re-occurring characters and then the main characters. This is where the author really fails the book, because he keeps getting little things about the characters wrong that I know drives other “The West Wing” fans nuts. Then, of course, we have to have an episode guide to finish out the book, which I think was just to waste space in the book and make it thicker.

I was really disappointed with this book, but then the official books I’ve read on it have been as excellent as the show because they were written by the same people that make the show so great. I feel this book could have had better material instead of covering stuff that has been reported about until the cows have come home and Challen needed to check his facts more on the characters. I got the feeling this guy wasn’t really a fan of the show, but just saw a chance to make money off of this show’s popularity. He didn’t really read his audience and understand that people that probably are dedicated enough to the show to watch it like me expect a little more. This wasn’t some biography on the Backstreet Boys. This was supposed to be a fan dedication to a really good and intelligent show. Somehow I think that point was missed out and he didn’t even read the cover of his own book.

Title: Inside The West Wing: An Unauthorized Look At Television’s Smartest Show
Author: Paul Challen
Review by: CL7 Amanda Sielu Paris