The Amateur, by Ed Klein, is a briskly written anti-Obama overview that has received few reviews in major media outlets. Set to debut at #1 on the NY Times bestseller list, Klein's book will surprise few who've been observing White House missteps and controversies over the past three and a half years.
Klein shows his writing talent in the book's first chapter, which describes a fictionalized discussion between Bill and Hillary Clinton. True or false, the chapter is so engaging that it may tempt many casual readers to download the book. Bill Clinton urges his wife to run for President in 2012 against President Obama, insisting that the country needs her. Hillary demurs, and Bill's parting shot regarding Obama is, "He's an amateur!" This is the source of the book's title; however, Klein's book doesn't portray an amateur so much as an egotist interested only in his own ideas.
It's unlikely that NY Times reviewer Janet Maslin read all of The Amateur, as her review covers material found only in the first few chapters of the book. For such a negative book, it's surprising that the slams against The Amateur are vague and consist mostly of author Klein being insulted and dis-invited to television interviews.
In addition to the chapter where Bill Clinton urges Hillary to run against Obama, The Amateur also details Rev. Jeremiah Wright's estimation of how he was treated by the Obama campaign running up to the 2008 election, and his ostracizing since then. Klein spends a great deal of the book sharing negative gossip about little-known White House figures such as Valerie Jarrett and Samantha Power. He covers the unceremonious departures of former Chiefs of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley.
The most disturbing report in the book isn't the likely embellished Bill and Hillary Clinton chat, the alleged Oprah-snub or the other behind-the-scenes gaffes. It is probably Klein's coverage of a 2009 meeting of well-known historians at the White House. After 5 months in office, President Obama invited a group of 9 historians to dinner at the White House. Over time, some of the historians have said the president ignored the guidance they offered (and do not appear to be the same historian who spoke anonymously to Klein for the book).
It's difficult to put a positive spin on a president in office less than 20 weeks who is already calling upon historians to discuss his "legacy." I think those in the media whose job it is to do what the historians were asked will probably find a way to present this hubris in a positive way, however. The Amateur is a quick read, skillfully written and curious readers might do well to give it a look.