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Presidential Debates: Fifty Years of High-Risk TV [Paperback]

by Alan Schroeder
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 3, 2008 023114105X 978-0231141055 2nd

Alan Schroeder's popular history now covers the 2000 Bush-Gore and 2004 Bush-Kerry debates, including innovations in format and press coverage, and adds new research on televised debates since 1960. Schroeder organizes his book according to a television production timeline, highlighting the importance of pre- and postdebate periods, as well as the live telecasts themselves. He describes production in painstaking detail, from the selection of questioners to camera angles, from makeup to lighting and set design.

Televised debates represent a rare departure from well-choreographed campaigns, and new media such as YouTube continue to reshape form and content. Conducting interviews with journalists and industry insiders, and drawing on his own experience as an award-winning reporter and television producer, Schroeder delivers a fascinating backstage tour of every aspect of debate performance.

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Presidential Debates: Fifty Years of High-Risk TV + Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future + Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates
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Editorial Reviews


Schroeder's 'tour' is a good one, sparked by lively writing and an eye for telling details.

(Publishers Weekly)

Alan Schroeder's book gives readers an illuminating and detailed behind-the-scenes look at the debates that have shaped recent American history.

(Tim Sampson Politics (Campaigns & Elections))


If you are interested in presidential politics and think debates help decide the outcome of elections, this book is essential reading. Inside are fascinating accounts of what has gone on behind the scenes at every debate since Kennedy-Nixon.

(Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 2nd edition (July 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023114105X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231141055
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,368,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Readable and Thorough September 9, 2008
Professor Schroeder's book is both readable and scholarly. The book examines almost every aspect of the presidential debates, from the audiences, to the moderators, to the competitors.

Schroeder includes many interesting and little-known facts about the debates. For instance, Reagan himself crafted the "there you go again line"; Nixon remarked on Kennedy's tan before the famous 1960 debate started; and television producers worried that Admiral Stockdale would fall down during the 1992 vice presidential debate.

Schroeder combines readability with careful analysis. The book is well written and accessible, but is nevertheless well sourced. Over 800 footnotes are a testament to Schroeder's attention to detail and mastery of the subject area.

This book is a must-read for those interested in understanding presidential debates past, present, and future.

Aaron Zelinsky
The Presidential Debate Blog
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