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Inside "The West Wing" Paperback – 1 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 185 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press,Canada (1 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550224689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550224689
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although there's nothing new for the dedicated West Wing fan its a handy reference guide covering bios of the main cast and regular guests as well as short episode guide for series 1 & 2. The most interesting parts of the book are at the start with a chapter about how Aaron Sorkin's idea came to the small screen and then a chapter dealing with the critics and press response to the show. Some photos but mainly publicity/press type shots. As its unauthorised, this book steals a march on the authorised version which is due out in 2002, but it lacks depth and original input from creators or cast.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Shoddy and Secondhand 4 Dec. 2001
By Jane Harper - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I scarcely know where to begin in cataloging the shortcomings of this book.
First of all, it's obvious that the publishers fired all their editors and fact-checkers (although, as always, it's the *author* who must ultimately take responsibility for this kind of slipshod journalism). Most egregious of the Somebody Should Have Caught This Club was the listing of series creator Aaron Sorkin's name as Eric, in the list of sources in the back of the book. Mr. Challen, if it was *Eric* Sorkin you were talking to, no wonder you didn't get anything right!
The first error of easily-checked fact came on page three, when he misquoted a line from the series pilot. How difficult is it to toss a tape in the vcr and verify a word? The sad fact is, of all the quotes Challen uses from dialog, it was difficult to find one that *wasn't* inaccurate. And for all his touted consultation of Big Name Internet Fans, he must not have asked any of them to read the finished product; I've only been a West Wing fan since midway through the first season, and from one search in one archive of one mailing list I discovered that the episodes aren't 45 minutes long, as he says on page 7, but rather 41:35. A perfunctory search of the first couple of chapters also notes mistakes in Aaron Sorkin's birthdate (he was born in 1961, Challen says 1960) and internal contradictions (on p. 10 he says Sorkin has written or co-written every episode, whereas in the episode guide on page 121 he correctly notes that Sorkin did not touch episode 8, 'Enemies').
The real fountainhead of misinformation, though, is Challen's "Episode Guide", that eats up more than a third of the book (70 of the 180 pages). Of the 44 episodes he allegedly summarizes, 24 of the reviews (which are as much opinion as recap) have factual errors.
The real sources of Challen's information should be obvious to anybody looking at the art; he has more photos from the set visit of one of the internet webmistresses than from any other single source. Not that this is bad, necessarily, but it shows that this "unofficial" guide was cobbled together using secondary sources, perfunctory perusals of published reports, and materials obtained indirectly from official outlets via third parties. All it takes to write a book like this, it seems, is to spend an afternoon in the public library copying everything that had been written in the past year about Aaron Sorkin, "The West Wing" and *some* (but not all!) of its players, and spend an afternoon cajoling transcripts of various press events from loquacious television critics. I know at least a dozen fan writers who could have done a better job assembling the book out of their memories and their own files.
And about the Big Name Internet Fans he *did* consult: one of them, Susannah Nix, runs a first-class operation at, the source of the aforementioned photos. Of the other three to whom Challen refers, one has shut down her site, one boasted to this writer that she never frequents mailing lists or chat rooms (where the real contact with fans takes place), and the last has a poorly maintained site, with out of date links to nonexistent webpages and obsolete cast lists.
I could go on for pages listing the specific errors of omission and commission in this sad excuse for journalism; I'll confine myself to saying don't waste your money. And if you live in Canada, I'd demand that the Ontario Arts Council, which provided funding for the project, get theirs back.
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Nothing the fanatics don't know 5 Jan. 2002
By JennyM - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you are a major West Wing fan, this book is NOT for you. There is nothing in here the dedicated fans and internet users do not already know! This is just a book of facts - and many wrong ones at that - and older photos. Nothing new in these pages!
If you are a new viewer to West Wing and want to catch up, I might recommend this book. However, all of the information here - and thensome - is available on the internet for free.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Don't get too excited... 2 Jan. 2002
By Lindsay C. - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a political science student and someone who appreciates "smart TV", my first clue that this book was going to disappoint me was the title. "An unauthorized look..." and so on. Clearly someone did not want him to write this book, or he would have been given authority.
There are so many mistakes in this book, that even the casual viewer could pick up on them. The ones that disappointed me the most were the ones in the episode guides.
I have been watching since the beginning of the second season, but have had help from people on message boards to catch up. Even with my "limited" knowledge... I picked up on a lot. In the synopsis of "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" part 2, he says that Donna walked into the White House and hired herself without even being cleared by security. Maybe Challen wouldn't be so confused about security if he had correctly sited that Donna hired herself as Josh's assistant BEFORE Bartlet was elected!
This book appears to be thrown together by a casual fan. Next time someone wants to publish an "unauthorized" book... consult the hardcore fans... we know more.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
There's more info on the cover than in the book 25 Jun. 2002
By William Gallagher - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hey! If you can't get interviews with anyone who makes the show, just phone some fans and tape the conversation! There's a little more to this than that but you'll learn nothing from the book that you didn't know and while it eulogises The West Wing it oddly makes you think less of the show. It's just padding filler of no lasting consequence at all. But, hey, apart from that, it's fine.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Outside of The West Wing 7 Jan. 2002
By Jenna - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have seen every episode(most, more than once). I am 15 years old. When I recieved this book, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about the West Wing. A synopsis of the episodes and biographies on the gifted actors and actresses who star in the show. Anyone who would buy this book, has to be a fan of the award-winning Wednsday night drama, and honestly, if you are that much of a fan of the show, you don't need the book.
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