I read this book for the Read Harder 2016 challenge. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be. There was no Toby Ziegler or Sam Seaborn antics. Perhaps that’s unfair, but I was expecting something witty ala West Wing after reading the summary of this book on Goodreads. What I got was a book about working for Mark Sanford, who seems like one of the most unreasonable people to work for ever, and it just left me hoping that not all politicians treat their staffs this way.
The book does give information about what a speechwriter’s job is like, at least when writing for Mark Sanford. It also gives a lot of details about how unreasonable the then-Governor was to work for, and makes him come across as rather slow, plodding, and unintellectual. While all of this may be true, after finishing the book, I almost felt like it was one long vent session about this particular job. I didn’t feel like I got any particular political insights, though there were some backstage glimpses. I didn’t feel invested in any of the other people Swaim worked with, and I wanted to. Basically, maybe I was just looking for things that don’t exist in politics. If they don’t, however, I’m even more afraid for the US than I was before.
Looking back at the Goodreads summary, it points out that the memoir is about working for someone who is essentially ridiculous. It also calls the book “funny and candid”. I chuckled a few times, and the book was extremely honest to the point of brutal at times. I was just expecting people presented as rounded, engaging individuals instead of flat, somewhat washed out coworkers. I was expecting insight into how the political machinery runs, which I maybe got a little of. I was expecting camaraderie. I didn’t get much of what I was expecting, and I was left with a book that I didn’t really like. However, I did finish the book. I did chuckle at some of the situations. I did sympathize with them about having a difficult boss. I just didn’t quite get what I was looking for, which may be unfair, but it’s how I feel after reading it.
Recommend: Not particularly, but I did finish it and it wasn’t absolutely terrible. It does provide some insight into our current political situation, but not any Earth-shattering ones. Personally, I’d rather watch The West Wing.
Rating: 2 out of 5 for me