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Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    Stories of an Observant Onlooker..

    Garry Wills' Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer serves as a recollection of the accounts of how a book-loving, young journalist came to know many acclaimed political figures of American history. Wills describes his encounters with great Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton in his enticing autobiography. This entertaining and touching work of non-fiction gives us new clues about how he has provided ongoing lessons as to how journalism and scholarship can combine into something bigger on its own. It also provides insight into topics including the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and urban riots in cities such as Detroit. During Wills' telling of the scene immediately following Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, I was mentally engaged in the piece and could not put it down. Although non-fiction does not usually grasp my attention as this did, I was eager to turn the page to find out what happened next. There are sections when Outside Looking In seems like a data dump -Wills goes into a lot of detail and provides too much information about some events which changes the overall tone of the book, making it feel more like a history textbook than a pleasurable work of nonfiction. He drags on about his encounters with Nixon and how he first got involved in presidential politics and provides more information than strictly necessary, which takes away from the enjoyment of the book. Also, some of the political figures referenced are unfamiliar since he references a plethora of minor events, such as the Baltimore Film Festival, that have been long-forgotten by most. Overall, Wills' accounts of his journalism career were thought-provoking and attention-grabbing - a real page turner.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    An interesting read. Good insight into Buckley, Nixon, Carter.

    Garry Wills, an excellent writer, interviewer, and story teller, provides a cerebral and interesting insight into the complex man that was William F. Buckley with whom he worked as a screen writer for years. And, similarly provides insight and surprises into the thoughts of great men he has interviewed including Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter.

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