The first official White House videographer chronicles his time capturing behind-the-scenes moments of the president and his administration
From the early months of the 2008 campaign and through the first two and a half years of the Obama administration, Arun Chaudhary had a unique perspective on the president of the United States. "I'm sort of like President Obama's wedding videographer," he explains, "if every day was a wedding with the same groom but a constantly rotating set of hysterical guests."
Some of the moments Chaudhary captures are small, like the president throwing warm-up pitches deep inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis before the All-Star game. Some are intensely emotional, as when Obama comforts a grieving teenager whose father had died in a devastating tornado. And some are just plain bizarre—like getting thrown out of the Indian parliament by his belt, or being trapped in a White House bathroom while Obama conducts a YouTube town hall on the other side of the door.
Film and politics have been intertwined ever since the first Edison reels rattled in projection halls a century ago. But with the advent of new technologies and a new public that is hungry for images of their leaders, Chaudhary has been in the right place at the right time to participate in the interplay of film and politics at the very highest level. His entertaining and eye-opening book—which includes stories and images of key players such as Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, among others—gives readers a unique view of their government and their president in these historic and challenging times.
With engaging, self-effacing cool, Chaudhary, the first official White House videographer, provides an entertaining, though not particularly detailed, account of his four years filming President Barack Obama. In 2008, Chaudhary, then an NYU film professor, was hired by the Obama campaign to film the candidate and post the results on the Internet. As an intriguing look at the evolution of "new media" in politics, the book effectively examines the history of political filmmaking all the way back to Eisenhower, and includes a lively chapter on the author's struggle to synthesize his own filmmaking ethos with the rigid strictures of political messaging. However, just as the exhilaration of Obama's campaign gave way to the reality of governance, so Chaudhary's narrative stumbles postelection into a vague glimpse of the presidency that ends at the ante-room of the Oval Office. As a member of the White House staff, and with access only to the president's public moments, Chaudhary's documentation has been called propaganda, a charge he unconvincingly tackles head-on. He instead argues that his work "humanizes" the presidency in a way that makes it more palatable to the masses. Though the book provides a close look at Chaudhary's job, it doesn't make the case that we're better served by reality television style access than by reportage. Photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great from page one
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to look behind the curtain to see what life is really like on the road from underdog-outsider to President of the United States. The story is told from the perspective of an observer - someone who was literally hired to follow and observe through his camera's lens. The stories are funny, specific and heart-felt.