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Talking Back: . . . to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels Paperback – December 26, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Millions of TV viewers may feel they already know Mitchell—she has reported on politics for NBC for some 30 years and is married to the Fed's Alan Greenspan—but there's lots to learn about her in this engrossing memoir. Mitchell began as a "copyboy" at radio station KYW in Philadelphia in the 1970s. After covering the major political conventions for them, she was hired by NBC and headed to Washington. Shortly after, she flew to Guyana for her first major story: the 1978 Jonestown massacre. She has covered all the presidents from Carter through George W. Bush, done exclusives with Castro, sat in on high-level negotiations in the Middle East and North Korea, and much more. Mitchell's tales are fascinating, but her evolution as a journalist is even more intriguing. She was a gender pioneer, for example, but her gender rapidly became a nonissue. Yet her original insistence on a clear separation of work and social life seems progressively undercut by her own account. She mentions many dinners with dear friends like the Cheneys, and parties with the Bushes, Rice and Rumsfeld, and then wonders why the media got the Iraq WMD question so wrong. Still, this is a treat for political junkies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mitchell, who began her long career as a television reporter at a time when women were severely restricted, gained respect as she faced down a range of powerful figures from Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo to Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In this absorbing memoir, Mitchell recalls her climb to the top of her profession, including stints at NBC Nightly News, Today, and Meet the Press. Mitchell recalls encounters with major figures, from bullying by Don Regan to the kindness of President Reagan even as he was being heavily scrutinized for Iran-Contra. She offers a behind-the-scenes look at powerful Washington politicos, including her husband, Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. Mitchell also offers a personal glimpse into her life, weighing the personal access that her relationship with Greenspan gave her to powerful figures against worries about her journalistic independence. This is a frank and revealing book by a respected journalist whose career spans three decades. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Andrea Mitchell is fast-paced and yet so well organized that she is very easy to follow. She expresses complex thoughts that put into perspective decades of our history, as she explains her role and presence at one significant event after another. In some ways this book is a description of how to succeed in a journalist career reporting on TV, and in other ways this is a history book, describing fairly the times in which we have lived. Andrea impressed me for being able to be so fast-paced and fair-minded. She reveals herself to be extraordinarily bright and tough, and seems to have dedicated herself to her profession to the extreme.
Accounts of each of the presidents she covered, and there were many, are insightful. She does a great imitation of Ronald Reagan and has interesting stories about each president. She has very complimentary things to say about each president as well as bitingly critical points. I think she treated George W. Bush differently than all the other presidents, as I waited but did not hear any positive points. Possibly the absence of even one compliment spoke volumes and possibly she was simply avoiding controversy. This was a mystery that hung at the end of the book without resolution.
Surprisingly, Talking Back made me like Alan Greenspan, a very difficult man to understand even after reading his Age of Turbulence. The fact that he became committed and married to such a strong woman speaks very well for him. Andrea addressed aspects of their relationship while maintaining a fair degree of privacy, but it's worth getting this front row seat to the tough reporter's view of fitting into America's aristocracy. Plainly, this tough reporter married into the top social strata of America. She cites occasions with friends of the couple, such as Al and Tipper Gore, Dick and Lynne Cheney as well as many other rich and powerful friends. Other than some fellow reporters, the word "friend" was exclusively reserved for people of high socio-economic status. I would have liked an explanation of the friendship with the Cheneys, but Andrea provided none.
The title of the book seemed a bit of a misnomer until Andrea described her visits to Cuba and interviews with Fidel Castro. I admired her for being so fair, diplomatic and yet not holding back on essential issues. I felt she represented America very well whenever she interviewed foreign leaders. It was clear that Andrea knows a lot more about many things that just about anybody I know, and her book is an authentic teaching document. For that, I am appreciative and recommend this entertaining book 100%.
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