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Hold On, Mr. President Hardcover – March 12, 1987


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394553934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394553931
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,527,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The book's title expresses how this veteran TV newsman sees his job: unrelenting, skeptical questioning to find out what is really going on. Using an entertaining anecdotal style, Donaldson relates how he became a newsman and explores what he sees as the ends served by his work. He defends his pointed questioning of Presidents Carter and Reagan and argues that the presshimself includedis often too respectful of authority and not sufficiently challenging in performace of its oversight role. He views TV as a superior news medium because it permits viewers to see and hear events and judge situations for themselves. Offering behind-the-scenes insights into the lives of notables in government and in the press, this is recommended for the general reader as well as the news media specialist. BOMC alternate. Mark K. Jones, Cincinnati, Ohio
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For years, Sam Donaldson was the television network correspondent that most people considered the most obnoxious. And yet, he served a vital public function. By aggressively yelling hard questions to presidents Carter and Reagan, he occasionally forced them to answer and provide some information regarding what their policies were. Since I am a news and political junkie, I often saw him in action and there were times that I praised him for his aggressiveness and other times I thought he should just shut up.

This is his story in his own words and while he admits to some mistakes, there are no apologies for what he does. He cycles through his life, giving us some glimpses of his childhood, but nothing of great depth. The one true insight into his personal beliefs is when he reveals that he voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964. Furthermore, he still insists that Goldwater would have made an excellent president. Given the reputation that Goldwater has as an extremist that is quite a statement. Otherwise, Donaldson is emphatic that his past votes in presidential elections is a private affair. He mentions his vote for Goldwater only because he inadvertently mentioned it in another context so it is already part of the public record.

Given the secretive nature of the Bush White House and Donaldson's "retirement" from being ABC's White House correspondent, one can only speculate as to the level of friction there would have been if Donaldson were still covering the White House. I enjoyed this insight into Donaldson's career and some of the events in his professional life. There are some that are very funny, I never realized that Jimmy Carter had such a sense of humor, as he gets off a couple of real zingers at Donaldson's expense. There are also some insights into Ronald Reagan.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tammy L. Schilling on July 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hold On, Mr. President is a chronicle of Sam Donaldson's years as a reporter until 1987. There is some coverage in the beginning of the book about how Donaldson got his start, which makes for interesting and sometimes amusing reading. The book focuses heavily on his time covering former presidents Carter and Reagen. Much of the information given about his time with Carter is hysterical. While a few funny quips are given over the Reagen administration, much focus is given to the apparent bumbling of Reagen's staff and Reagen's unwillingness to take control of things himself, resulting in many embarassing blunders by his adminstration. The latter part of the book sums up Donaldson's thoughts about network news, his plans for the future, and covers briefly his personal life (including two divorces).
Unfortunately, this book really bogs down after the first few chapters. The middle part of the book, until nearly the end, is a painfully detailed summary of many of Donaldson's experience covering the Washington Beat. Perhaps it was more immediate for the telling, and therefore more interesting, when the book was written in 1987. In the year 2002, it was simply too detailed to be anything but boring.
Still, this is a well written book, giving an insider's look at Washington, the presidency, and network news workings. Of considerable interest is Donaldson's descriptions of the early days of ABC.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill Slocum VINE VOICE on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Hold On, Mr. President!" is a product of its time, the late 1980s, with Sam Donaldson offering a view from the press trenches on two presidents, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The index to this book includes the following note, perhaps in jest: "There are three names mentioned too often in this book to index: Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Sam Donaldson." And not necessarily in that order.

I had high hopes for this book. Donaldson was a character of television news when I was growing up, the late 70s and early 80s. Whereas other television newsmen offered various lighter shades of pale, Donaldson was a colorful bulldog, always ready to put the Leader of the Free World on the spot, whether the issue at hand was hostages in Iran or his wife's taste in china. Once Donaldson cornered Reagan when the president was a guest at an ABC function, grilling him about the latest embarrassing kafuffle at the White House. Network higher ups talked of firing him, but Reagan just chuckled: "Oh, that's alright, that's just the way Sam is."

That's from the first chapter, the best in the book. Donaldson analyzes his role and how he felt he served the causes of democracy and good television. He tells some funny stories, and makes some good points: "So when I cover the president, I try to remember two things: First, if you don't ask, you don't find out; and second, the questions don't do the damage. Only the answers do."

Donaldson was a good question-asker, too; not needlessly prosecutorial or opinionated like Helen Thomas, not pinheaded and trite like Chris Wallace or countless bottle-blondes. Donaldson had substance.

And ego, too. Boy, does that come across here. It could be a drinking game for a non-social drunk.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Berner on December 25, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sam Donaldson is, as the old saw goes, a legend in his own mind. The signature moment in his career was when he politely asked Bill Clinton about the FBI's allegations that the President had accepted bribes from the People's Republic of China. President Clinton told Donaldson to shut up and sit down and Donaldson meekly crawled back to his seat and never raised the issue (or any other challenging question) again.

You would never believe that Donaldson's career exemplified that sort of cowardice from this self serving book. Instead of being a bullying member of a herd - never striking out with something original, never speaking truth to power, only turning on unpopular Presidents - this book shows that Donaldson thinks of himself as some sort of hero. As with all too many third rate autobiographies, if you deleted the first person pronoun, you would have a book half of its current length.
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