By itself, Bloggers on the Bus provides an interesting tour of the not-so-distant past political landscape (the 2008 presidential campaign), with stops at particular intersections where citizen journalists – online bloggers – both analyzed and influenced events. Author Eric Boehlert makes a nice case for the importance of amateur and volunteer online reporters. He makes it clear that the traditional media (television, radio, and the relics known as newspapers) are now falling behind the times. To his credit, he has located specific story lines that were either ignored by big media or picked up too late.
In this brave new world chronicled by Boehlert, amateur and professional writers on the web perform such a credible job of instantly tracking events and issues that true political junkies feel lost without web access. Fox News and MSNBC might as well be sending us telegrams from across the Atlantic; they seem to be as current as buggy whips.
The problem with this book is the manner in which it has been publicized: “In the tradition of the classic book The Boys on the Bus…” Sorry, but I knew The Boys on the Bus as a fun, frolicking ride that puts you, the fortunate and somewhat shocked reader, on the magic bus with a new-wave gang of rowdy reporters. This is not that book.
However, most readers with even just a hint of politics in their blood will surely enjoy Boehlert’s book just fine. Its almost 300 pages go by quite quickly. This is the good news.
The bad news is that this is simply not The Boys on the Bus Part 2. The publicist who came up with that narrative did the author’s own campaign more harm than good by placing undue pressure on, and expectations for, Boehlert’s book to be something it is not.
Free Press, $26.00, 265 pages
Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.