December 23, 2017

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Pete Souza is the former chief official White House photographer and the former President himself wrote the forward to this big, beautiful coffee table book (10.4 x 1.2 x 12.5 inches, hardcover, with beautiful heavy pages.)

The photos move in chronological order, starting with Inauguration Day in the first term. But these just aren’t state photos, there are lots of intimate, family and personal photos that help create the Obama legacy in a most personal and profound way.

Souza is obviously a gifted photographer, he wouldn’t have gotten the gig nor held on to it for eight years otherwise. I have to say the photographs are spectacular, interesting and often visceral. Some will be familiar, like when the President bowed down to let the young African American boy touch his head, much like his own, and that devastating picture taken after Sandy Hook. But there are also some really fun photos, like the Obamas and friends watching a 3-D movie, with glasses on. There are photos of famous signings, parties, speeches and more, but I admit I most enjoyed the family photos and the less formal shots. Obama shooting hoops in the Department of Interior gymnasium; Bono playing guitar for the President and Alicia Keys in the private dining room; even the President and First Lady making an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery and surprising a widow there.

There are interesting shots like Obama ducking under the ropes on the lawn to get back to the Oval Office. A shot of Obama sitting on the desk, meeting with three women on staff but all we see are their shoes. Obama racing the new Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough’s children down the Colonnade outside the White House. Obama throwing a football at Soldier Field, home of his beloved Chicago Bears, during a break at the NATO summit.

This is a book I wish I owned, but I borrowed a copy from my library. It is a beautiful homage to one of my favorite Presidents.

12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

OBAMA: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT by Pete Souza. Little, Brown and Company (November 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0316512589. 352p.

CHASING LIGHT by Amanda Lucidon

December 22, 2017

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Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer

From the publisher:

A collection of striking and intimate photographs of Michelle Obama—many never before seen—coupled with personal reflections and behind-the-scenes stories from Official White House Photographer Amanda Lucidon, presented in a deluxe format.

Michelle Obama is one of the most admired First Ladies in history, known for her grace, spirit, and beauty, as well as for the amazing work she did during her tenure to promote girls’ education, combat childhood obesity, and support military families. In Chasing Light, former White House photographer Amanda Lucidon, who spent four years covering the First Lady, shares a rare insider’s perspective, from documenting life at the White House to covering domestic and overseas travel. This collection of 150 candid photos—many previously unreleased—and Amanda’s narrative reflections reveal just what makes Mrs. Obama so special. From an affectionate moment with her daughters atop the strikingly empty Great Wall of China to exuberant moments with schoolchildren and quiet moments between the First Lady and President Obama, the photos are a vibrant, candid, and beautiful celebration of the First Lady, capturing the qualities and strengths that have made Mrs. Obama so beloved.

Chasing Light is a beautiful book that really honors Michelle Obama and her legacy. This has been a very difficult year for me politically, and this book was a balm for my soul.

12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CHASING LIGHT by Amanda Lucidon. Ten Speed Press (October 17, 2017). ISBN 978-0399581182. 224p.

VICTORIA by Helen Rappaport

February 22, 2017
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The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen: Official Companion to the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS

From the publisher:

The official companion to the Masterpiece presentation on PBS, Victoria delves into the private writings of the young Queen Victoria, painting a vivid picture of the personal life of one of England’s greatest monarchs.

From the producers of Poldark and Endeavour, ITV’s Victoria follows the early years of the young queen’s reign, based closely on Victoria’s own letters and journals. Now explore this extensive collection in greater depth, and discover who Victoria really was behind her upright public persona.

At only eighteen years old, Victoria ascended the throne as a rebellious teenager and gradually grew to become one of the most memorable, unshakeable and powerful women in history. The extensive writings she left behind document this personal journey and show how she triumphed over scandal and corruption. Written by author and Victoria historical consultant, Helen Rappaport, and including a foreword by Daisy Goodwin—acclaimed novelist and scriptwriter of the series—Victoria details the history behind the show. Revealing Victoria’s own thoughts about the love interests, family dramas and court scandals during her early reign, it also delves into the running of the royal household, the upstairs-downstairs relationships, and what it was like to live in Victorian England.

Full of beautiful photography from the series and genuine imagery from the era, Victoria takes you behind the palace doors and discover the girl behind the queen.

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This is a beautiful book made with heavy paper and stunning photographs. I loved seeing portraits of the real Victoria and the other characters, and all I can say is the casting and the makeup are amazing. Victoria’s diary entries are fascinating, as are the reproductions of letters. This is a treasure trove for any fan of the TV series and of British history.

2/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

VICTORIA by Helen Rappaport. Harper Design (January 31, 2017). ISBN 978-0062568892. 304p.