White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters

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White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters

Format:  Hardcover,

579 pages

Edition: S&s Hdcvr

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publish Date: Apr 2008

ISBN-13: 9780743291699

ISBN-10: 0743291697

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
In "White House Ghosts," veteran Washington reporter Robert Schlesinger opens a fresh and revealing window on the modern presidency from FDR to George W. Bush. This is the first book to examine a crucial and often hidden role played by the men and women who help presidents find the words they hope will define their places in history.
Drawing on scores of interviews with White House scribes and on extensive archival research, Schlesinger weaves intimate, amusing, compelling stories that provide surprising insights into the personalities, quirks, egos, ambitions, and humor of these presidents as well as how well or not they understood the bully pulpit.
"White House Ghosts" traces the evolution of the presidential speechwriter's job from Raymond Moley under FDR through such luminaries as Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., under JFK, Jack Valenti and Richard Goodwin under LBJ, William Safire and Pat Buchanan under Nixon, Hendrik Hertzberg and James Fallows under Carter, and Peggy Noonan under Reagan, to the "Troika" of Michael Gerson, John McConnell, and Matthew Scully under George W. Bush.
"White House Ghosts" tells the fascinating inside stories behind some of the most iconic presidential phrases: the first inaugural of FDR ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ") and JFK ("ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country"), Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" and Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speeches, Bill Clinton's ending "the era of big government" State of the Union, and George W. Bush's post-9/11 declaration that "whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done" -- and dozens of other noteworthy speeches. The book also addresses crucial questions surrounding the complex relationship between speechwriter and speechgiver, such as who actually crafted the most memorable phrases, who deserves credit for them, and who has claimed it.
Schlesinger tells the story of the modern American presidency through this unique prism -- how our chief executives developed their very different rhetorical styles and how well they grasped the rewards of reaching out to the country. "White House Ghosts" is dramatic, funny, gripping, surprising, serious -- and always entertaining.

Specifications

Author:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: Apr 2008
ISBN-13: 9780743291699
ISBN-10: 0743291697
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 579
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.78
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.32 x 1.68 x 9.66

Chapter outline

The Coming of the "Literary Clerkp. 1
Grace, Take a Lawp. 5
Missouri Englishp. 31
Sometimes You Sure Get Tired of all This Clackety-Clackp. 69
The Age of Sorensenp. 101
Now That's What I Call a News Leadp. 145
Concern for Image Must Rank with Concern for Substancep. 188
Go Back and Give Me One Speech, Not Two Speechesp. 230
Don't Give Any Explanation. Just Say I Cancelled the Damn Speechp. 268
The Musketeersp. 312
I'm Not Going to Dance on the Berlin Wallp. 362
No, No, No, This Is a Speech - I Just Want to Talk to Peoplep. 402
The Troikap. 456
Notesp. 495
Indexp. 562

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2008-04-01)

Schlesinger (political reporting, Washington Journalism Ctr., Boston Univ.), son of the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., has penned a detail-packed volume chronologically covering presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt through the current Bush administration, with extensive insight into how these leaders have had their messages crafted and packaged. His short introduction does cover pre-FDR presidents (after all, even Washington got help with his speeches), but his focus starts with FDR as the first president to engage in communication through mass media.

While some presidents utilized more speech writers than others, and some accepted their writers' speeches as merely an "outline" from which to ad lib, all recognized the necessity of the speech writer position. Schlesinger's chapters move from one administration to the next without transitional language and often jump midstream into the next term. Nonetheless, as a whole, the book succeeds as a perspective on the last 75 years of American history, albeit with lots of detail and less interpretation. Recommended for public and academic libraries.

-Leigh Mihlrad, Albany Medical Coll., NY

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

In White House Ghosts, veteran Washington reporter Robert Schlesinger opens a fresh and revealing window on the modern presidency from FDR to George W. Bush. This is the first book to examine a crucial and often hidden role played by the men and women who help presidents find the words they hope will define their places in history.

Drawing on scores of interviews with White House scribes and on extensive archival research, Schlesinger weaves intimate, amusing, compelling stories that provide surprising insights into the personalities, quirks, egos, ambitions, and humor of these presidents as well as how well or not they understood the bully pulpit.

White House Ghosts traces the evolution of the presidential speechwriter's job from Raymond Moley under FDR through such luminaries as Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., under JFK, Jack Valenti and Richard Goodwin under LBJ, William Safire and Pat Buchanan under Nixon, Hendrik Hertzberg and James Fallows under Carter, and Peggy Noonan under Reagan, to the "Troika" of Michael Gerson, John McConnell, and Matthew Scully under George W. Bush.

White House Ghosts tells the fascinating inside stories behind some of the most iconic presidential phrases: the first inaugural of FDR ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ") and JFK ("ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country"), Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" and Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speeches, Bill Clinton's ending "the era of big government" State of the Union, and George W. Bush's post-9/11 declaration that "whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done" -- and dozens of other noteworthy speeches. The book also addresses crucial questions surrounding the complex relationship between speechwriter and speechgiver, such as who actually crafted the most memorable phrases, who deserves credit for them, and who has claimed it.

Schlesinger tells the story of the modern American presidency through this unique prism -- how our chief executives developed their very different rhetorical styles and how well they grasped the rewards of reaching out to the country. White House Ghosts is dramatic, funny, gripping, surprising, serious -- and always entertaining.

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