The Clinton book blitz.

Media criticism.
June 30 2004 7:03 PM

The Clinton Book Blitz

Can you really review a 957-page book in 24 hours?

(Continued from Page 2)

At 2,000 words, Isaacson's slow-food take is much longer than its fast-food cousins. It's also better-written—the jokes are sharper, the allusions better-grounded, the rhythm better-paced. But Isaacson's basic takeaway doesn't differ much from that of instant reviewers Anson, Rutten, Applebaum, and Schwartz: Isaacson finds the first half of the book fascinating but complains that Clinton surrenders to his self-indulgent, psychobabbly, slapdash tendencies in the second half. Clinton should come back in 10 years and rewrite the second half of the book, Isaacson recommends in his conclusion.

From Isaacson's point of view, it sounds like My Life got the instant notices it deserved.

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The "Juicy Bits" treatment of My Life mentioned above was removed from Slateafter Knopf protested copyright infringement: See this note from Slate's editor. Also, I don't consider Larry McMurtry's extremely positive review of My Life, assigned by the New York Times Book Review and posted to the Times Web site late on the afternoon of June 23, a blitz review. Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus says his section had talked to McMurtry about reviewing the book well before it came out and managed to get him a copy before noon, Saturday, the 19th. Fast, but not blitz. McMurtry's review will run in the July 4 Book Review. Send your instant analysis of this column to pressbox@hotmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Correction, July 1, 2004: In the original version of this story, Associated Press writer Jerry Schwartz was described as a blitz reviewer, and the piece stated that he did not make himself available for an interview. An AP spokesman says Schwartz obtained the book on June 18, so he was not a blitz reviewer. However, the AP did not respond to a request to interview Schwartz. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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