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I scarcely know where to begin in cataloging the shortcomings of this book.
First of all, it's obvious that the publishers fired all their editors and fact-checkers (although, as always, it's the *author* who must ultimately take responsibility for this kind of slipshod journalism). Most egregious of the Somebody Should Have Caught This Club was the listing of series creator Aaron Sorkin's name as Eric, in the list of sources in the back of the book. Mr. Challen, if it was *Eric* Sorkin you were talking to, no wonder you didn't get anything right!
The first error of easily-checked fact came on page three, when he misquoted a line from the series pilot. How difficult is it to toss a tape in the vcr and verify a word? The sad fact is, of all the quotes Challen uses from dialog, it was difficult to find one that *wasn't* inaccurate. And for all his touted consultation of Big Name Internet Fans, he must not have asked any of them to read the finished product; I've only been a West Wing fan since midway through the first season, and from one search in one archive of one mailing list I discovered that the episodes aren't 45 minutes long, as he says on page 7, but rather 41:35. A perfunctory search of the first couple of chapters also notes mistakes in Aaron Sorkin's birthdate (he was born in 1961, Challen says 1960) and internal contradictions (on p. 10 he says Sorkin has written or co-written every episode, whereas in the episode guide on page 121 he correctly notes that Sorkin did not touch episode 8, 'Enemies').
The real fountainhead of misinformation, though, is Challen's "Episode Guide", that eats up more than a third of the book (70 of the 180 pages). Of the 44 episodes he allegedly summarizes, 24 of the reviews (which are as much opinion as recap) have factual errors.
The real sources of Challen's information should be obvious to anybody looking at the art; he has more photos from the set visit of one of the internet webmistresses than from any other single source. Not that this is bad, necessarily, but it shows that this "unofficial" guide was cobbled together using secondary sources, perfunctory perusals of published reports, and materials obtained indirectly from official outlets via third parties. All it takes to write a book like this, it seems, is to spend an afternoon in the public library copying everything that had been written in the past year about Aaron Sorkin, "The West Wing" and *some* (but not all!) of its players, and spend an afternoon cajoling transcripts of various press events from loquacious television critics. I know at least a dozen fan writers who could have done a better job assembling the book out of their memories and their own files.
And about the Big Name Internet Fans he *did* consult: one of them, Susannah Nix, runs a first-class operation at jedbartlet.com, the source of the aforementioned photos. Of the other three to whom Challen refers, one has shut down her site, one boasted to this writer that she never frequents mailing lists or chat rooms (where the real contact with fans takes place), and the last has a poorly maintained site, with out of date links to nonexistent webpages and obsolete cast lists.
I could go on for pages listing the specific errors of omission and commission in this sad excuse for journalism; I'll confine myself to saying don't waste your money. And if you live in Canada, I'd demand that the Ontario Arts Council, which provided funding for the project, get theirs back.