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Front Row at the White House : My Life and…

Front Row at the White House : My Life and Times (edition 2000)

by Helen Thomas (Author)

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257664,168 (3.35)3
Title:Front Row at the White House : My Life and Times
Authors:Helen Thomas (Author)
Info:Scribner (2000), Edition: First Touchtone Volume, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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Front Row at the White House : My Life and Times by Helen Thomas



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Front Row at the White House by Helen Thomas
4 stars
I so enjoyed this book. I picked it up on cassette at my library when I was scanning the shelves for something that would fit the history tag. Before the end of the tapes, I ordered a used copy so I could read it and soak in the details. This memoir of Thomas’ years as a White House reporter and correspondent was published in 1999 and covers spresidencies through the Clinton years. It is full of fascinating personal insights about the history of the past century. I was especially interested in her take on the changing role of women in the press and the descriptions of traveling with the president on Air Force One. I intend to read Thank You, Mr. President and then her more recent book Watch Dogs of Democracy? to try and get the complete picture of this woman’s life work.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Interested in having a chat with someone who has known and reported on eight US Presidents? That's basically what this book is. A candid, off-the-cuff chat with Helen Thomas about everything from Monica Lewinsky to Watergate to the many charities that have benefited from the First Ladies of the US.

As Thomas carries you through her own story, each of the First Ladies and then each POTUS from Kennedy to Clinton this book has a bit of repetition, some parts that could have been tightened up a bit from a writer's perspective, but overall it is definitely worth reading. The disjointed layout can be a bit confusing, as her memories bounce between decades, but it also lends a conversational tone to the book. As an added benefit, this allows insight into a first lady you may never have given a second thought to, or a president you may have hated or revered unjustly. Read this book, if for nothing else than because you will gain insight and it will change the way you view the role of media in the presidency. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
While this book is listed as a bio in most of the libraries in the system I work for, it's not just a biography of Helen Thomas. It's almost a history of the presidents she's reported on -- not just historical events, but personal stories. The book is fun, often funny, and very interesting. ( )
  callmecayce | Jul 23, 2010 |
While this book reads as a collection of anecdotes, what anecdotes they are! As White House correspondent for UPI, Helen Thomas has covered every President (and First Lady) since JFK. Now a syndicated columnist for the Hearst newspapers, she still doesn't mince words.

If I have any criticism of this book, though, it is that she tries too hard to find something nice to say about every President. You can see her straining at times. But I did find her discussions of how the different administrations related to the press very revealing. The press, in my view and hers, is critical to keeping our politicians honest.

In the last chapter, she says, ". . . I didn't get into this business to be loved; I'd rather be respected for being fair. I wanted to break down that wall of secrecy we see so much in government. Without a doubt, the perpetrators and guardians of that secrecy are the presidents themselves. Too often those in government have lied to reporters, and in doing so, they have lied to the American people. In the Kennedy era, Pentagon press officer Arthur Sylvester, a former newsman, said the government has the right to lie in times of nuclear danger. The same thesis has been argued by some of his successors. We saw it in the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada and the Persian Gulf War. I believe the lie dishonors those who fight in those wars. There may be time when all cannot be told. Then, I say, silence is better than deliberate lies."

I agree.
  lilithcat | Jun 9, 2009 |
Helen Thomas gets on my last nerve, but this is the second book of hers I've read. They both say the same thing, from what I can remember. Something about I've been covering stories since the days of the telegraphs, I'm Liberian (or is it Romanian, or something else), I'm an institution at the White House, here's some dirt on this or that President. ( )
  horacewimsey | Dec 16, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684868091, Paperback)

Born in 1920, Helen Thomas was one of United Press International's very few female journalists for years. She promoted herself to UPI's White House Press Corps in 1960 ("I just started showing up every day") and has reported on eight administrations. Her episodic, old-fashioned autobiography contains anecdotes about each president, their first ladies, and their staff. Her stories are often funny, and she doesn't mind when the joke's on her: "Isn't there a war somewhere we can send her to?" Colin Powell inquired after being buttonholed at a party; President Carter's mother said the greatest lesson she learned in 80 years was, "Never to open my mouth around Helen Thomas." She's also fair: even the press secretaries get balanced treatment, though Thomas criticizes the White House's growing efforts to "manage" the news. (Her most affectionate political portrait is of the unmanageable Watergate wife Martha Mitchell.) Thomas pays loving tribute to her parents, hardworking, religious Syrian immigrants, and to her late husband, Associated Press reporter Doug Cornell, but she keeps the focus on the people and public events she covered. Scrupulously impartial when reporting the news, she feels free here to be bluntly opinionated, especially in her unrepentant advocacy of the media's responsibility to ask uncomfortable questions, even when the public condemns them as intrusive. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"I'm still here, still arriving at the White House in the wee hours of the morning, reading the papers and checking the wire, still waiting for the morning briefing, still sitting down to write the first story of the day and still waiting to ask the tough questions." From the woman who has reported on every president from Kennedy to Clinton for United Press International: a unique glimpse into the White House -- and a telling record of the ever-changing relationship between the presidency and the press. From her earliest years, Helen Thomas wanted to be a reporter. Raised in Depression-era Detroit, she worked her way to Washington after college and, unlike other women reporters who gave up their jobs to returning veterans, parlayed her copy-aide job at the Washington Daily News into a twelve-year stint as a radio news writer for UPI, covering such beats as the Department of Justice and other federal agencies. Assigned to the White House press corps in 1961, Thomas was the first woman to close a press conference with "Thank you, Mr. President," and has covered every administration since Kennedy's. Along the way, she was among the pioneers who broke down barriers against women in the national media, becoming the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association, the first female officer of the National Press Club and the first woman member, later president, of the Gridiron Club. In this revealing memoir, which includes hundreds of anecdotes, insights, observations, and personal details, Thomas looks back at a career spent with presidents at home and abroad, on the ground and in the air. She evaluates the enormous changes that Watergate brought, including diminished press access to the Oval Office, and how they have affected every president since Nixon. Providing a unique view of the past four decades of presidential history, Front Row at the White House offers a seasoned study of the relationship between the chief executive officer and the press -- a relationship that is sometimes uneasy, sometimes playful, yet always integral to democracy. "Soon enough there will be another president, another first lady, another press secretary and a whole new administration to discover. I'm looking forward to it -- although I'm sure whoever ends up in the Oval Office in a new century may not be so thrilled about the prospect."… (more)

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