From Publishers Weekly
This peek inside the "flying Oval Office" comes courtesy of U.S. News and World Report's award-winning White House correspondent, who has logged more than 200 trips aboard Air Force One. To document the history and evolution of the "flying White House," Walsh (Feeding the Beast: The White House Versus the Press) interviewed more than 120 people, including the plane's crews and staff, plus past presidents and White House officials. Americans once thought presidents should "never stray from the United States," but FDR "changed the whole dynamic," becoming the first airborne chief executive when he flew to a secret 1943 meeting with Churchill in Casablanca. Truman, who used "the plane itself as a power tool," was the first to fly routinely, and Eisenhower was the first to travel by jet. The code name Air Force One was introduced in Ike's era after air traffic controllers confused Eastern 610 with the president's Air Force 610. JFK made the code name public, and his sleek new 707 "seemed to embody modernity itself" after Jackie Kennedy and industrial designer Raymond Loewy devised the now-familiar blue-and-white exterior. Focusing on the mystique and prestige of Air Force One and its ascendancy as a symbol of world power, Walsh describes key decisions made in the air, leaving a contrail of anecdotes about presidential behavior aloft, and concludes by detailing the dramatic events aboard the presidential jet on September 11 when the controversial decision was made not to return to Washington. 8 pages of color, 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Since Walsh started covering the White House for U.S. News & World Report
in 1986, he has traveled on Air Force One more than 200 times. Franklin Roosevelt was the first of 13 presidents to have a personal plane; Roosevelt's was a prop-driven Pan Am airliner. Today's plane is a 747 with the latest technological advances, from communications to security. Walsh offers a history of the planes and an engaging look into presidential behavior aboard them. Eisenhower "slurped his soup directly from the bowl," and Jacqueline Kennedy brought fine china and oil paintings on board. Nixon, who found sleeping on the plane uncomfortable, stopped for the night so he could stay in a hotel. Walsh clearly favors Republicans: as he has it, Reagan was one of the twentieth-century's most influential as well as popular presidents; Johnson was petty, imperious, and demanding; and Carter was hopelessly naive and aloof. Readers who set aside this bias will find much to interest them. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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