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Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do Hardcover – October 6, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps for over 30 years, stops asking questions and starts giving answers in this how-to guide to the American presidency. Having covered every president since Kennedy, Thomas offers up a lesson plan drawn from the foibles and successes of presidents past, with praise and admonition meted out in equal measure. While Carter gets high marks for his honesty (his poor political gamesmanship is served up as a warning), Nixon takes a predictable beating for his paranoia and combative stance toward the press while Kennedy alone slips through unscathed, described as our best president of the later twentieth century. While the book sometimes devolves into platitudes (Telling hard truths makes great leaders) accounts of Thomas sparring with press secretaries like George Stephanopoulos (who infamously compared her voice to the Wicked Witch of the West's) and Ari Fleischer are entertaining. Her incessant questioning of power also drives home the underlying message of the book: it's a primer not, at heart, for those who would be president but for those who would elect one. (Oct.)
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Review

"Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps for over 30 years, stops asking questions and starts giving answers in this how-to guide to the American presidency. Her incessant questioning of power drives home the underlying message of the book: it's a primer not, at heart, for those who would be president but for those who would elect one.” --Publishers Weekly



"A precise, plainspoken primer for the people who become president, as well as for the people who elect them.” --Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439148155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439148150
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,341,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Lee on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book thinking that I would read a chapter or two a week and learn some previously unknown nuggets of information and insights about our past presidents. Without giving away spoilers or free samples, I read the first chapter. It was so good I then read chapter two. Then chapter three. The next thing I know, I'm done with the book in one sitting. Though I didn't agree with some of their assessments of some Presidents (I'm a conservative and these are mainstream media types so it's safe to say they are a bit to the left of myself), the book was never lacking in original insights and lessons. Moreover, there were no cheap shots taken under the belt, even in the sections that I may have disagreed with. It's very fair. Chapter one is definitely worth the price of the book for those interested in the Presidency and anyone looking to get into T.R.'s proverbial Arena of politics. I personally found that the parts of the book that dealt with how the Presidency is covered and the give and take between the President/Executive Branch and the fourth estate, particularly the fourth chapter, came to life, for obvious reasons--Thomas and Crawford are journalists! A surprisingly wonderful and insightful read--and that's coming from a conservative who isn't too fond of most in the mainstream media. Go buy a copy, you won't regret it.
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Nearly sixty years covering ten presidents definitely qualifies Helen Thomas, a White House reporter and journalist, as an individual who "knows everything we always wanted our president to know and do."

I've enjoyed her previous books, had hoped to discover new tidbits, however there was nothing I didn't know and I mostly agreed with everything in the book! No doubt this is because I was born in 1936 and enjoy presidential history,American history, politics,everything "White House." (even the kitchen!)

For the younger generation this book is a valuable tool - actually I advise anyone voting for a president to read it before they vote, and of course, I would expect every candidate to be informed before they decide they want this demanding job.

Helen Thomas comes straight to the point, pulls no punches, and gives the reader plenty of political savvy. I would have liked her views on several press secretaries as her questions are directed to them most of the time since presidents shy away from reporters as much as possible, much to their dismay.

Let's hope our young president takes time to read words of wisdom and advice from a reporter who is serious about the public's right to know.....everything! I recommend the book for the interesting stories and insights - agree or not it's a good read. The co-author, Craig Crawford's contributions to the book are not defined. At any rate, it is well-written and timely.
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This book reminds me of a few clever teachers who made class so entertaining that you didn't realize you were learning. Thomas and Crawford write in the style of a easy, friendly conversation, yet this volume is full of fascinating details about the characteristics that made a wide variety of presidents more effective (or less so), and what got them into trouble or mitigated their troubles. Highly recommended if you follow politics.
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This was written during Helen's tenure as a responsible UPI White Hose reporter. She since has fallen out of grace and has passed on. It one os a series of books written by Helen and he formerr former boss, Mariman Smith.
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Someone should place a copy of this book on every table in the White House where all Presidents could have it handy for quick reference. Anyone hoping to be President, should read it immediately to find out how to be a good one. Helen Thomas has been an up close, frontline observer of the breed for sixty years and knows the requirements for the job. She can draw on decades of examples from successful presidents and those who disappointed. Craig Crawford, her cowriter, is one of the few pundits able to discuss political issues with sanity and humor. The combination makes for a great insiders book of "how to" for the hardest job on the planet.
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If you enjoy presidential anecdotes and history, this is the book for you. "Listen up.." is a great historical perspective of presidential missteps, mistakes, and unintentional and intentional shenanigans; this book should be required reading for anyone thinking about running for president. Problem is, I doubt any presidential prospect would heed the advice of Thomas and Crawford; too much ego involved. A definite 5 star because presidents should "listen." President Obama, READ THIS BOOK!!
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By Marsha on January 9, 2010
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Helen Thomas is always informative...one of the greats when it comes to keeping us informed about what is going on at the White House. She is uniquely qualified to write this book.
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This book is written so well and clearly that every president in my (long) lifetime could have learned from it while enjoying the experience. And citizens should read it too, gaining perspective on what presidents realistically can and can't do.

The authors' qualifications to write this primer have been documented time and time again. And their concise, clear writing style gets to the point. It's an excellent read.
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