Speaking of the Speechwriter

If all goes according to plan, in a couple of weeks Tod and I will be doing a post on Barton Swaim’s The Speechwriter. The Speechwriter is Swain’s account of his experience as a speechwriter for an unnamed governor of South Carolina who was caught up in a sex scandal. If this sort of thing interests you, you are encouraged to read along so that you can join the discussion in the comments. If you don’t read it, we will still make the post accessible. Spoilers are unlikely to be an issue because I suspect that you know how things turned out.

The book is not necessarily what you might expect from a political memoir of sorts. So I thought I would outline what some of the things that the book is and is not.

  • The book IS short. It’s 230 pages and the audiobook is less than six hours. You can knock through this pretty quickly and in between books if you have a backlog on your reading list.
  • The book is NOT a tell-all. The Appalachian Trail does not occur until about the last third of the book. The author was not in the loop as it was occurring. If you want an inside look at the fall of an American governor, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
  • The book is NOT ideological. It is not a right-wing screed on everything that is wrong with government and how things wouldn’t be so bad if we just had some Constitutional Conservatives in office. In fact, excise a bit here and there and you are not even sure that Swaim is conservative rather than someone apolitical who happens to be from a state with a Republican governor who needed a speechwriter.
  • The book IS interesting and entertaining. At least, if you’re interested in politics and such. It’s a look at retail politics at a middling level from the viewpoint of someone who was only recently introduced to it by chance. It’s mildly philosophical at points, but mostly observational and just a guy telling his story

Beyond that, it’s just not easy to describe. It’s a book that sees some important things, including one of the more interesting sex scandals of our age and being at the speartip of the Tea Party, without actually being fundamentally about them. It’s more about writing letters of thank you to supporters who wrote in to local papers, the Gift Room, a bunch of political minutiae most don’t even take the time to note, and a speechwriter with a sometimes-difficult boss.

So read the book! Or, at least, check back in a couple weeks from now and check out us talking about the book.

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