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.
Praise for White House Ghosts
White House Ghosts takes you into the minds and machinations of presidents in a way no other book has -- through the insights of succeeding generations of White House speechwriters. As a long-time student of the American presidency, I was constantly engaged, intrigued, and amused by this very smart and ambitious book.
- Tom Brokaw
author of Boom! and The Greatest Generation
A president's words can frame an era or shape world history. That makes his speechwriters critical. Robert Schlesinger, son of one of the greatest, brings the flair of a storyteller and the insight of a scholar to the White House's obscure but glorious ghosts.
- Jonathan Alter
author of The Defining Moment:
FDR's Hundred Daysand the Triumph of Hope
Robert Schlesinger's White House Ghosts is a welcome addition to the literature on presidents. His book not only adds a significant dimension to our understanding of how presidential speeches were constructed but also deepens our knowledge of the way in which major policies were developed. Schlesinger has given us an altogether delightful and informative study that will become essential reading for anyone interested in the modern presidency.
- Robert Dallek
author of Nixon and Kissinger
It's no surprise that the men and women who have written speeches for our presidents have stories to tell! What is a surprise is that Robert Schlesinger has dug up so many of them. White House Ghosts flows along with one rich anecdote after the next. All the major speeches (and several minor ones) are dissected. (Some presidents actually did some rewriting themselves. Imagine!) The book is fascinating. And funny. If you like reading American history, you'll love this book.
- Lesley Stahl
correspondent for 60 Minutes and author of Reporting Live
Robert Schlesinger has given us an absorbing, detail-packed tour behind the scenes of some of the great defining moments of the modern presidency.
- John F. Harris
author of The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House
and editor in chief of Politico.com
Here's a book about politics and presidents that says something new. Robert Schlesinger gives readers a captivating inside glimpse at the anonymous wordsmiths whose talent at crafting a president's speeches can make or break a presidency.
- John A. Farrell
author of Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century