Inside the Oval Office: The White House Tapes from FDR to Clinton MP3 CD – Mar 1 2008
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Richard Nixon was not the first president to tape-record conversations inside the Oval Office--that was Franklin Roosevelt. Nor was he the last, although one would think after Nixon's disastrous experience with taping that the succeeding occupants of the White House would have learned better. Since they didn't, we have Inside the Oval Office, "a cockpit voice recorder of the presidency" written and compiled by William Doyle. Doyle combines transcripts of taped Oval Office conversations--from FDR to Bill Clinton--with his assessment of each president's executive abilities. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, John F. Kennedy showed what Doyle calls a pragmatic leadership style: "self-control, a call for multiple opinions, the discipline to think several steps ahead, and the ability to put himself in 'the other guy's shoes.'"
Among the book's highlights: Franklin Roosevelt briefing cabinet members and congressional leaders after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; Dwight Eisenhower talking to the British prime minister during the Suez crisis; John F. Kennedy talking to Mississippi governor Ross Barnett during the fight over integration of the University of Mississippi; Lyndon Johnson meeting with military advisors about U.S. involvement in Vietnam; Richard Nixon talking with Chuck Colson about monitoring Henry Kissinger's calls to the press (and the "smoking gun" tapes in which Nixon discusses the Watergate cover-up with John Dean and H.R. Haldeman); and the transcripts of videotaped meetings held by Ronald Reagan on the Soviet Union. Anyone interested in history and the presidency will no doubt find Inside the Oval Office full of revealing and fascinating material. --Linda Killian --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Seven of the 11 U.S. presidents since the Depression have secretly recorded meetings and telephone conversations in the White House. Many of these recordings have been locked away in official archives, lost or forgotten. Doyle, who won a Writer's Guild award for a documentary on the same subject, uses these recordings to present an impressive, illuminating account of how presidents from FDR to Clinton managed the day-to-day operations of "the world's most dangerous office." Combining interviews, meticulous historical research and transcripts of the tapes themselves, Doyle peeks behind the wizard's curtain to show us the nation's chief executives at work: FDR thundering at the "damn Jap" who demanded that the U.S. evacuate Hawaii; Eisenhower sternly prodding the British prime minister to cease hostilities in the Suez; Johnson browbeating a senator into serving on the Warren Commission. We learn what time presidents woke up (in Truman's case, 5:30 a.m.), if they took naps (Reagan, every day) and what time they went to sleep (well past midnight for Johnson). We see them trading quips with the White House press corps and dispatching troops to international hot spots. We also see them digging their own graves, via Johnson and Nixon transcripts on Vietnam and Watergate. Doyle's running commentary on the transcripts provides a plethora of instructive and sometimes disheartening insights into the hidden machinery of the Oval Office. Quoth Bill Clinton: "I get treated like a mule. Whenever I'm at my desk I end up with these lists of people to call. I'm supposed to call every junior congressman about every vote.... I don't have time to think." Reading this book is a little like peering through a keyhole at history.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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A delegation of civil rights leaders was filing into the oval Office to push Franklin Roosevelt to embrace a radical,explosive, concept: integrate the armed forces of the United States. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
While William Doyle's "Inside The Oval Office" is subtitled "The White House Tapes From FDR To Clinton," this is a misnomer. As others here point out, there's really only a trio of presidents that taped themselves at work with any regularity, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and four more (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Ford) that did so even at all. Reagan and Clinton both had video crews film some of their formal meetings, but Bush 41 and Carter avoided anything more involved than private diary tapings in recording the doings of their administrations.
Despite the uneven nature of this record, Doyle tries his best to analyze each president's administration from a purely executive-managerial level, sometimes using the tapes as a guide but just as often relying on contemporaneous accounts and even interviews with people who were in the room with the various chief executives. The result is some fascinating portraits in miniature of the vastly different leadership styles America have elected to its helm.
Doyle manages effective profiles of each man, but delivers the goods best on the ones, not surprisingly, who did the most taping. LBJ verbally bludgeons cowering senators to pass aggressive civil rights legislation and tells a pants manufacturer to give him some slacks with more room for his testicles, employing some decidedly earthy terminology in both instances. Kennedy and his Best and Brightest advisor team listen in on reports from Ole Miss while James Meredith is enrolled as a student there and the campus erupts into a combat zone.Read more ›
In fairness, though, recordings were used minimally by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower and the post-Nixon administrations shied away from recordings as well (although video recordings of certain events started under President Reagan). Only Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon made extensive use tape recordings and the first two still exercised control over what was recorded -- a practice that Nixon did not adopt and later regretted. The most memorable examples used were a couple of Johnson's recordings. A somewhat humorous recording, in spite of the tragic circumstances, was President Johnson's arm twisting his mentor, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, into serving on the Warren Commission. Senator Russell despised Earl Warren. The second was a meeting to determine whether the Administration would commit 200,000 more troops to Vietnam where President Johnson finally decided to reverse his policy and start pulling back from that unpleasant and costly adventure.
As for the descriptions of the administrations themselves, the book, in my opinion, is a testimonial to how too much emphasis is put on "qualifications" to be President. Each individual who has served in the Oval Office, including the current occupant and his successors, will have certain strengths and weaknesses that may prepare them well for the challenges that confront them, or not prepare them well at all.Read more ›
Some presidents come across very differently than their popular image: For instance, Reagan was a surprisingly hands-on president, while Bush Sr. is portrayed as ineffectual and passive. Clinton fares very poorly in this book due to his lack of organization. It is Johnson, however, that is the most memorable, combining political acumen with incredibly disgusting personal habits. The book, as a whole, walks the reader through a half-century of US history as events were experienced in the Oval Office.
..."Inside The Oval Office" is aimed at using taped conversations (no, Nixon wasn't the only one to do this) that occured in the Oval Office. However, don't think that this book is just one long transcript - the conversations are merely part of each wonderful chapter, as the comments are analyzed, described and discussed by Doyle in great length.
The book is split into a section for each President from Roosevelt onwards to Clinton, using recorded conversations in the Oval Office as a backdrop for Doyle's excellent thoughts and revelations on the attitudes and actions of some of the last century's most famous leaders.
Well worth a read for those who want to learn more about what happens inside America's most famous office.
Most recent customer reviews
After reading and listening to "Taking Charge," which was about LBJ's secret tapes, I was expecting the audio version of "Inside the Oval Office" to use many... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2001 by Mark Gates
This is a terrific book and rewards the reader with insight into the modern presidency. It talks about each President's strengths and how each of them got themselves into trouble... Read morePublished on April 30 2001 by Craig Matteson