Synopses & Reviews
In a natural follow-up to her national bestseller Front Row at the White House
, the dean of the White House press corps presents a vivid and personal chronicle of the American presidency.
Currently a columnist for Hearst and a former White House bureau chief for UPI, Helen Thomas has covered an astounding nine presidential administrations from Kennedy through George W. Bush endearing herself with her trademark "Thank you, Mr. President" at the conclusion of White House press conferences. Here, in a riveting chapter for each administration she has covered, Thomas delights, informs, spins yarns, and offers opinions on the commanders in chief and their families. She tells about Kennedy's love of sparring with the press, the memorable invitation LBJ extended to Hubert Humphrey to become his running mate, and Reagan's down-home ways of avoiding the press's tougher questions.
As entertaining and compelling as Helen Thomas herself, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President is a unique glimpse into presidential history.
"Just as it ain't over till the fat lady sings, a presidential press conference isn't finished until Helen Thomas delivers her ubiquitous 'Thank you, Mr. President.' The phrase has saved presidents struggling with difficult questions from reporters, frustrated viewers who would have liked a longer appearance by the president and has even inspired jokes from presidents. Having served as UPI's White House bureau chief for an unprecedented nine administrations (she was long known as dean of the White House press corps), Thomas is certainly qualified to write a book compiling presidential anecdotes. Introducing each president's chapter with a summary of what she found that particular man to be like, Thomas seems to find something nice to say about everyone. LBJ was an expert raconteur, Nixon was best in small groups, Ford had a great laugh, Reagan was master of the one-liner and Bush Sr. was 'quick on his feet' (though, she admits, a champion of 'disjointed communication'). Thomas's memories (which range from 50 to 500 words) of these men are indeed telling. She acknowledges that no president has ever liked the press, yet does offer a few glimpses into the camaraderie between leader and reporter, especially present with Kennedy. Readers will laugh at Clinton's self-deprecating remarks (stricken with laryngitis, he announced, 'My doctor ordered me to shut up, which will make everyone in America happy') and sigh at George W.'s 'Bushisms' ('Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?'). Thomas's 'all in good fun' attitude and breadth of experience make this a light but entertaining follow-up to her recent memoir, Front Row at the White House." Publishers Weekly
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"A rich collection of lighthearted, nostalgic stories...an easy, entertaining read." Chicago Tribune
"The First Lady of the White House press corps follows up her engaging memoir, Front Row at the White House, with a collection of humorous and sometimes touching stories about the nine presidents John Kennedy through George W. Bush she covered for UPI and as a columnist for Hearst." Karl Helicher, Library Journal
Over the course of more than forty years, Helen Thomas has attended thousands of presidential press briefings, conducted interviews in the White House family quarters, and observed with a discerning eye how nine different presidents from JFK to George W. Bush approached their jobs, expressed their views, and interacted with the people around them. Thanks for the Memories
, Mr. President brings together some of the most humorous, telling, and touching moments she and her press colleagues witnessed.
Thomas offers wonderful examples of Kennedy's and Clinton's mastery of quick wit and ready repartee; captures Lyndon Johnson through the eyes of a bemused Hubert Humphrey; and describes Ronald Reagan's skill at deflecting questions with an "aw shucks" expression, smile, or quip. Enlivened by Thomas's special take on the Presidents, First Ladies, staffers, and the politics of the times, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President offers a new perspective on familiar figures along with a lot of laughs.
About the Author
Helen Thomas is the dean of the White House press corps. She is the recipient of more than twenty honorary degrees and has been honored with a number of awards for outstanding journalism. In 1998 Thomas was the first recipient of the prize established in her name by the White House Correspondents Association: the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award.
Table of Contents
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
George W. Bush
A Few Final Reflections