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Publishers WeeklyIt's not easy being a Washingtonian; Congress's approval rating is at an all-time low and many Americans believe that our system is, if not totally broke, in need of some help. Schatz's book, a companion to an ongoing video portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, is a pleasant and well-timed effort to burnish the image of the folks inside the Beltway. Familiar faces such as former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are joined by people like anti-tax GOP operative Grover Norquist and Michael Kaiser, the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The world of Washington, D.C. workers-lobbyists, secretaries, deputies, directors, elected officials, judges, chairpersons, and journalists-is presented in an earnest, easy to read history-book style. The Chicago-based Schatz, an artist but not a journalist, spent about 45 minutes with each subject and the book showcases photo stills and edited first-person transcripts from those sessions. Based on the innocuous narratives, Schatz was not going for gotcha moments nor was he challenging his subjects. These rosy portraits may have limited appeal if you're a jaded insider, but for the average American adult or school child, they're chock full of worthwhile details and telling anecdotes.
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