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Inside the Oval Office: The White House Tapes from FDR to Clinton

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Since 1940, almost every president has found some use for recording conversations, covertly or otherwise. William Doyle unearths these tapes from oblivion to present a flesh and blood drama of the presidency in action.


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Since 1940, almost every president has found some use for recording conversations, covertly or otherwise. William Doyle unearths these tapes from oblivion to present a flesh and blood drama of the presidency in action.

30 review for Inside the Oval Office: The White House Tapes from FDR to Clinton

  1. 4 out of 5

    Damon

    I've got to give this book something of a break since it was published pre-Snowden and so some of the final points about the growth of communications recording seem naive now. However, my main issue with this book is that the focus - the impact of presidential self-taping - is distorted by the author's desire to tell a coherent narrative from FDR to Clinton. The problem is that many of those Pval Office occupants didn't tape themselves. So the scope is broadened to other forms of recording, and I've got to give this book something of a break since it was published pre-Snowden and so some of the final points about the growth of communications recording seem naive now. However, my main issue with this book is that the focus - the impact of presidential self-taping - is distorted by the author's desire to tell a coherent narrative from FDR to Clinton. The problem is that many of those Pval Office occupants didn't tape themselves. So the scope is broadened to other forms of recording, and then to just general discussions about what each of them did and how their staff worked. In the latter it's just not as complete or insightful as other books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Yenzer

    I really enjoyed this account of the executive styles of the modern presidents, which used tape recording transcripts to guide and support the analysis. At times I felt that Doyle's editorializing was not necessarily backed up by the recordings he cited, but that was not often. And the behind-the-scenes accounts of men whose public images are so finely tuned were fascinating. Learning that LBJ called Ford's economics "the worst thing that's happened to this country since pantyhose ruined finger- I really enjoyed this account of the executive styles of the modern presidents, which used tape recording transcripts to guide and support the analysis. At times I felt that Doyle's editorializing was not necessarily backed up by the recordings he cited, but that was not often. And the behind-the-scenes accounts of men whose public images are so finely tuned were fascinating. Learning that LBJ called Ford's economics "the worst thing that's happened to this country since pantyhose ruined finger-fucking" was worth the price of admission, but getting deeper insight in the successes and failures of Carter's unique style was also interesting (and made me wonder what fellow technocrat Michael Dukakis might have done in the Oval Office).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Don

    The premise here is to tell the story of the modern White House through the (mostly clandestine) taped conversations that have taken place through the years. The problem is, though, that only LBJ and certainly Nixon made liberal use of their taping systems. Every president after Nixon has been quite rightly afraid to touch a tape recorder. Still, there were plenty of interesting anecdotes, mostly drawn from interviews with insiders.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    This is a nice overview of Presidential management styles, from FDR to Clinton. However, the title is misleading. The tapes are used to support the author's arguments and are not in any way the subject of the book. Only Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon taped enough to warrant book length studies. Still, a good read overall. This is a nice overview of Presidential management styles, from FDR to Clinton. However, the title is misleading. The tapes are used to support the author's arguments and are not in any way the subject of the book. Only Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon taped enough to warrant book length studies. Still, a good read overall.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    using historical tapes, a rather intimate view of life inside the oval office over several presidencies.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryon Keith

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arryn Pidwell

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Michaels

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ian Angotti

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Juan Frias

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim Laymon

  15. 5 out of 5

    BJ

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mavis

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Ford

  18. 4 out of 5

    Art

  19. 5 out of 5

    Iain Lewis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  23. 5 out of 5

    L

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Mae Martinson

  25. 4 out of 5

    K.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beyondzero

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Kalim

  28. 4 out of 5

    LorenzoT

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter Whatmore

  30. 5 out of 5

    Collan

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