This oral history of the Jon Stewart years of The Daily Show is a mostly-entertaining look behind the scenes of the influential show. It is also a backdoor history of the last 17 or so years. Seriously, if you’re too young to really remember the Bush v. Gore election or the invasion of Iraq, you could learn a bit from reading this book.
As an oral history, one of the more impressive attributes of the book is the many luminaries they got to speak. Senator John McCain is a frequent contributor and so is Anthony Weiner. But of course the bulk of the stories are from the correspondents, writers, producers, and staff.
Author Chris Smith does his best to be thorough and fair. He gives time to former correspondents who have an ax to grind with Stewart, from women who complain about the male-dominated culture of the early years, and from interview subjects who felt they were treated unfairly. Though the show seems to have had a pretty wonderful office culture, one dramatic incident between Stewart and Wyatt Cenac gets a full investigation from Smith, who talks to everyone in the room for the collective story.
For the most part, though, the book is practically a paean to Stewart and his genius. The book will have tremendous appeal for Daily Show superfans, but admittedly will run a little long and repetitive for a more casual fan.