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All the Presidents' Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over Hardcover – September 28, 2004

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Geeky, factoid-loving TV comedian Rocca of The Daily Show presents a wacky satire on Washington and the media, with particular barbed attention paid to Fox News. With ironically deadpan innocence, Rocca uncovers the top-secret history of a pact between presidents and their pets, who are "bound by the indispensable 'Sacred Animal' component of proper decision-making." Rocca's jibes at media and government personalities range from incisive to silly and may confuse readers not fully literate in cable network news. More universally comprehensible and funny are stories of the influence of presidential pets on their owners. The mating of Kennedy's terrier, Charlie, with Pushinka, a canine gift from Khrushchev, averted the Cuban missile crisis. Johnson's dog Him predicted the quagmire of Vietnam, although Johnson ignored the advice. Funniest of all is a 1798 town square Crossfire on the Alien and Sedition Act between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, moderated by bulldog Toddy and sheepdog Buzzy, in which the politicians hurl personal insults at each other while the dogs do their best to maintain rational thinking and civility. The book's peculiarly postmodern blending of fact and fantasy make it hard to tell jokes from mere ironic truths. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Some will consider this satire. Mo Rocca describes how U.S. political policy has been guided by presidential pets for more than two hundred years. Oh, and I suppose you have a better explanation?” —P. J. O’Rourke

“A wild and hilarious tale of who’s really running the show in Washington.” —Detroit News

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052257
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,186,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Peter Andrews on September 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the oddest, funniest - and most fact-packed -- books I've read in a long time, and certainly one of the most surreal books I've ever read, which is basically a survey of presidential history and politics set against contemporary issues in the guise of the story of Mo Rocca being appointed a White House correspondent for CNN to compete with the Presidential Pet beat (read - White House propaganda) being monopolized by Fox News. Are you with me? If you saw this year's RNC, and the video about Barney helping sway voters across the country, well, that kind of shilling is basically what is at the heart of this book. And it's filled with cameos by political pundits and politicians and celebrities and all sorts of pop culture references that range from ironic to down right inspired, as well as real honest to god history. It's sort of Monty Python meets....something, I can't quite figure out, but it's sort of screaming cult status. Oh, and then there's the "thriller" that runs through the book where Rocca uncovers the "real influence" presidential pets have had in shaping the country that is suspiciously like the Da Vinci Code, albino (named Gephart), "holy" grail and all. Right on.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. PC on November 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not familar with Mo Rocca until I heard a radio interview with him and decided to but this book. He was considerably funnier and more entertaining in the radio interview.

As other reviewers have explained, this is the story of the secret contributions made by presidential pets throughout US history. Mixed in are references to numerous cable news personalities and reporters, some shots at past presidents and our current one, and a conspiracy involving the holy grail of presidential pets.

Some familiarity with TV news personalities (OK, a LOT of familiarity) is necessary to fully appreciate the inside humor. Although Fox News is hit particularly hard, Rocca spares no one.

The problem with this book is it's inconsistency. It reminds me of old average Saturday Night Live or Monty Python episodes, where moments of brilliance are interspersed with skits that just didn't work. The climax is very funny, but leading up to it were many spots that dragged or just seemed dumb rather than humorous.

My copy will probably be ending up on EBay as well.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Seigler on October 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mo Rocca's groundbreaking investigative reporting is a tour de force in this memoir/thriller/oh-so-juicy political potboiler. The former Daily Show guru plows through years of lies and half-truths to uncover the deadly secret that will rock Washington to its core: Presidential pets play more of a role in the affairs of state than previously believed....

Okay, Mo Rocca may have fudged some of the facts, and he may not be telling the full story of his scandelous May-December romance with White House Chief Correspondent Helen Thomas. And sure, Laurie Dhue may not be a killer cyborg and...oops, I've said too much.

This book, Rocca's first, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of Presidential pets, a world that used to be regarded merely as a "photo op" to make various Presidents look human. In fact, once you finish this tome you will realize that maybe, just maybe, presidential pets have more to do with the wise decisions our commanders-in-chief make.

Rocca's journey takes him to a hidden lair underneath the White House Press Room, where veteran reporter Helen Thomas (actually a 200+ year old turkey eagle) keeps a secret archive relating the unknown history of just how important presidential pets have been. In the corridors of power, he encounters resistance from the Bush Cabinent to acknowledge information gleaned from those archives. Betrayed by someone who knew about the archives, Rocca and Thomas see their precious documents destroyed. Finally, in a showdown only Jerry Bruckheimer can bring to the screen, Rocca confronts the evil conspiracy that threatens to neuter the presidential pets' power forever.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sadie on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've been anxiously awaiting a book from the lovable scrumptious Mo Rocca and he has seriously delivered. This is a smart and funny satire that peels away the layers of the decsion making red tape in the White House to reveal a policy dictated by Presidential pets. Mo uses his tireless reporting skills to dig deep to expose this scary truth- I was so horrified by these truths that I couldn't stop giggling. I can not tell you how many lines I have quoted from this book to my friends. Point being, this book is smart, funny, and it's freakin' Mo Rocca! Yay! Go out and buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. D'Alessandro III on December 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I picked this up at the end of the 2nd day of a well-picked over two-day booksale, for a mere dollar and, well, you get what you pay for. Sometimes a comedian's humor simply doesn't translate well on the pages of a book - this is one of those times. I'm a fan of The Daily Show, but Mo Rocca is simply not funny, whether he's 'fundit'ing it up on Iron Chef America or Wait, Wait Don't Tell me, and this debut effort should have been aborted by his publisher. It's a funny premise - that Presidential pets not only posses working larynxs and talk, but that they have been the true policy makers, not their popularly elected owners. You try to go along with the joke for as long as you can, but add in the bizarre bits about well-known media talking heads doing or saying insanely nutty things and you simply run off the rails of readability. Read it through, though, I did, because once I start a book, I finish it. And this was entertaining in a "how bad can this get" way. Very bad, is the answer. I definitely wouldn't recommend this for anyone other than someone looking to read the very last piece of fiction left on a burnt out rotten, post-Armageddon Earth.
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