Reputation: Portraits in Power

Reputation: Portraits in Power


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Woman at the Washington Zoo, a stunning collection of political portraits from the final dozen years of the twentieth century

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586487713
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Marjorie Williams was born in Princeton, N.J. in 1958 and died in Washington, D.C. in 2005. She is the author of The Woman at the Washington Zoo, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Nonfiction Award. She is survived by her husband, Timothy Noah, a senior writer at Slate, and her children, Alice and Will.

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Reputation: Portraits in Power 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
jennjack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marjorie Williams wrote these pieces for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair in the 1980's and 1990's and it is a testament to her own reputation that she had insider access without really seeming like a typical inside-the-beltway writer. She captures the humanity and personalities of people who are more like figureheads to most people, and she has compassion for them while also finding humor in their lives and circumstances. Her portrayals were very interesting even to me, a former Washingtonian who at some point lost interest in many of these movers and shakers because many have big egos and an unnatural need for attention. I have to admit her portraits changed this view a bit. I would have loved to have her take on current politics. Her other book of essays, A Woman at the Washington Zoo is excellent as well.
mmignano11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book for several reasons. Marjorie Williams has a journalistic style that is thorough,candid and approachable. This collection of essays, released posthumously, remain timely and relevant in today's political climate. The subjects she chose were important not only in their heyday, but remain so because the groundwork they laid remains relevant, politically and culturally, for women and men. Her close scrutiny of the lives of political figures of the 80's and 90's provides the reader with detail and drama. Instead of a dry sampling of powerful individuals, Williams provides us with relevant details, revealing anecdotes and witty personal observations.Of Larry King, often maligned for his callous disregard for the sanctity of marriage,Williams describes him as "...a man whose best friend has observed that he marries so often he has rice scars." Still Williams uncovers the less obvious aspects of King's life, finding him "unexpectedly pink" and allowing the reader a more sensitive view of the man who sees marriage as a carnival ride.Most of her "portraits" though, are of political figures. Those that are not reveal some of the more powerful voices of the 80's and the 90's, not unlike herself. Much of Williams' writing seems to contain information that is less well-known and therefore observations and conclusions that are uniquely hers.While Williams' approaches each profile as a journalist, providing well-researched, thorough background information, it is her sense of humor that gives each subject the honest appeal of a memoir. In fact, I look forward to finding a copy of her memoir, "The Woman At the Washington Zoo" and suggest LT readers pick up a copy , too.
Oregonreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marjorie Williams was a contributor to Vanity Fair and the Washington Post. This is a collection of portraits of political figures, most of them written in the 1990s. They are well written, full of character revealing anecdotes. What struck me strongly was how short political fame and influence can be. She writes of Clark Clifford, James Baker, Terry McAuliffe, Lee Atwater, all well-known, powerful individuals. But will younger readers know of them? If you are interested in the Washington DC culture, this is worth a read.
lesliecp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Reputation" is a collection of essays by the late Marjorie Williams about influencial Washington personalities. I found this a difficult read at times, because I was unfamiliar with many of the people portrayed. However, the book prompted me to question the differences between a public persona and an actual human being with flaws and quirks. It also made me wonder why we, as a culture are so fixated on creating personas for our political figures? It is, to me, a critical question in today's political climate. This book will make you think, and for that reason alone I recommend it.
PublicChristian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this book - or rather this collection of 12 short biographical portraits - is just excellent.Marjorie Williams wrote these for the Washington Post and for Vanity Fair during the 90's. They are long enough to be substantial and short enough to be easily accessible. I love to find books like this, where you can get an elegant introduction to a certain era or a certain place through the very real lives of very real people. It seems to me to be much more effective than the summary or analytical works that are so much more common.She must have had a lot of depth and profound powers of observation to write so penetratingly and believably, and provide such illumination to the rest of us in the process.She put a lot of interviewing and other research effort into each of these articles. And she quotes sources, both named and anonymous, frequently and effectively. But let me give you a few of Williams' own observations as a sampling of her ability to see into a person and to express what she sees."It is sweet indeed to watch a woman [the New York Times' Anna Quindlen] force a Fortune 500 company to accommodate her children's mealtimes."Of Iran-Contra Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh:"In the utilitarian political universe of Washington, consistency like Walsh's is distinctly suspect. It began to seem rigid of him to care so much.""People who try to describe what made Colin Powell so good as an insider cite the classic attributes of workaholism, clubbability, and guile. The one rarer quality they grope to define is Powell's great and natural smoothness.""But [Larry] King has always had an active romantic life in the capital. There are women in Washington who can bring each other to weeping laughter by reciting their favorite Larry King pick-up lines.""But it's not [George H. W.] Bush's fault that we bought the con... And now that the lie is crumbling there is something dishonest about blaming the liar... We will either find a way to become infatuated with him again, or else we will apply the age-old remedy for disillusionment and throw the bum out... We always marry another one just like him.""As Secretary of Defense, accountable to history for his acts [Clark] Clifford traded away his most cherished resource - the confidence of the President - for what he perceived as the correct course. It was the kind of conflict Clifford's Five Commandments were designed to avoid. It was the finest hour of his career."It might have been a little frightening to find oneself the subject of an article Marjorie Williams was working on. But it was also regarded as an honor. She was very thorough and very observant. This is a book I will surely pick up again and again in years to come.
mcna217 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Reputation" by Marjorie Williams is a series of twelve portraits of the socially and politically powerful people who populated 1980's and 1990's Washington D.C. Her subjects range the gamut from Lawrence Walsh (the well known attorney who headed the Iran-contra prosecution) to Laura Ingraham (an up and coming conservative political commentator). The articles are well written with insight, intelligence, and even humor. The personalities are discussed in great depth, and we are lucky to get some of the background information that is not usually found in the average newpaper or magazine piece.Even though these profiles were written a decade or so ago, most remain relevant today. This is especially true of " The Story of a Bad Boy", the piece written on Lee Atwater, the Republican political operative who invented the attack ad. His legacy continues to be seen today, both in the Swift Boat assault on John Kerry four years ago and in the current presidential campaign.My only complaint about this book was the inclusion of " La Belle Dame Sans Merci", a profile of Patricia Duff. Because the other articles profiled Washington'd movers and shakers, this one about a social climber, seemed out of place. While it was well written, it just didn't belong with the rest of the book.
Ice9Dragon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dive into any of these portraits and you will be immersed in intimate details and close scrutiny of the private life of the subject of Williams' essay. She has mixed each one with her unique style and careful reporting. All exceptionally well done. I give this 3 stars because I'm not particularly interested in any of the subjects chosen, but I say, check it out!
judithz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second posthumous collection of Marjorie Williams' essays focuses primarily on her incisive portraits of the Washington elite. It's a strong collection and filled with the rich detail and precise characterizations that were her signature. While this collection does not have the same poignancy of the personal essays that ended her earlier book, Woman at the Zoo, it's still a wonderful read and a sad reminder of what we've lost with Williams' death.
krobbie67 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I've read any of Marjorie Williams' political profiles until now. I found the profiles incredibly interesting and enlightening, although a bit dated. Her husband who compiled these essays does a nice job of filling in some of the details but there are some figures whose current story isn't fleshed out as well as that contained in the essay. The Colin Powell essay is a prime example. There are some who really don't seem to be on the political stage any longer but the name rings a bell, such as Lee Atwater. It was nice to learn more of his history and influence on American politics. In spite of all this, I think it is a worthwhile read on the study of reputation building, and most importantly, maintaining. A person can spend all their life building a reputation only to have it dashed upon the rocks of the media by one wrong decision or even a deceitful, dualistic life - not walking the walk they talk.
HarvReviewer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marjorie Williams has given us an album of elegant snapshots of Washington power players from an era that seems somehow both distant and close at hand. When historians chronicle that time, they'll be grateful a writer whose perception was so discerning and whose prose was so exquisite was there to observe it.