Book #17- White House Ghosts by Robert Schlessinger

No, this book isn’t actually about ghosts, it’s about speechwriters. The general premise is to go President-by-President from FDR to W, discuss their speechwriters and their role in the administrations. Basically, there were a few universal premises I can report. How good of a speaker a President was seemed directly related to how well he got along/functioned with his speechwriters. When things didn’t work out, Presidents got pissy and fired people. When things worked, Presidents took all the credit.

Schlessinger has some interesting stories. It’s good to know who told Reagan to say “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” or where “Ich Bein Ein Berliner” (which I probably spelled wrong– sorry, don’t do German) came from, or how Harry Truman’s speechwriters worked on the whistle stop campaign that won the 1948 Presidential election. As I say, the down side is that it’s all pretty much the same story with a different Presidential name.

Still, if you’re a history junkie, there is some interesting insight here, and I felt that Schlesinger was fair and non-partisan in his writing.

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