Chances are, if you've never tuned in to the talk show "The View," you have heard about it. Legendary journalist and creator Barbara Walters had one goal in mind in 1997: Gather together a panel of multigenerational women around a table to discuss hot topics of the day. What she got was highly successful and groundbreaking morning television, wrapped up in an intricate web of drama.

In "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View,' " award-winning journalist Ramin Setoodeh offers a backstage look at the transformative talk show. With unprecedented access to nearly every host, Setoodeh paints a vivid and informative picture of the highs and lows of the last 20 years from several different perspectives.

The show's beginnings are chronicled through Walters' viewpoint. From auditioning the inaugural hosts to pioneering an ideal rhythm for the show, Walters had a lot on her plate juggling her new job and other duties at ABC. Even when executives and critics said it couldn't be done, Walters triumphed with the help of broadcast journalist Meredith Vieira, attorney Star Jones, comedian Joy Behar and rookie Debbie Matenopoulos.

Although the idea of the show was an accomplishment, everyday operations were never smooth. Matenopoulos was let go for being too green. Jones insisted the show revolve around her pending wedding. And eventually, Vieira left, leaving a handful of spots to fill. Enter Rosie O'Donnell.

Collectively, O'Donnell spent two seasons on "The View," but her stint produced many of its most memorable moments. Setoodeh tackles her rivalry with Donald Trump, her on-air fight with Elizabeth Hasselbeck and the turmoil she caused among producers and directors. When she left, a new powerhouse took over in the curious form of movie actress Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg's point-of-view in the book describes her steady hand that ushered in a new era. Once Walters retired, Goldberg became a new force with which to be reckoned. And she still helms the ship today.

With a random array of hosts and plenty of drama to go around, Setoodeh manages to peel back the composed facade of what viewers see in order to focus on raw feelings and teetering emotions of those closely involved with "The View."

"Ladies Who Punch" is an exciting read that proves there's always a little soap opera even if a show presents itself as hard news.