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Download Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain, by Jim Lehrer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (250 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jim Lehrer Narrator: Jim Lehrer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“In his quiet but intense way, Jim Lehrer earns the trust of the major political players of our time,” notes Barbara Walters. “He explains and exposes their hopes and dreams, their strengths and failures as they try to put their best foot forward.”

From the man widely hailed as “the Dean of Moderators” comes a lively and revealing book that pulls back the curtain on more than forty years of televised political debate in America. A veteran newsman who has presided over eleven presidential and vice-presidential debates, Jim Lehrer gives readers a ringside seat for some of the epic political battles of our time, shedding light on all of the critical turning points and rhetorical faux pas that helped determine the outcome of America’s presidential elections—and with them the course of history. Drawing on his own experiences as “the man in the middle seat,” in-depth interviews with the candidates and his fellow moderators, and transcripts of key exchanges, Lehrer isolates and illuminates what he calls the “Major Moments” and “killer questions” that defined the debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.

Oftentimes these moments involve the candidates themselves and are seared into our collective political memory. Michael Dukakis stumbles badly over a question about the death penalty. Dan Quayle compares himself to John F. Kennedy once too often. Barack Obama and John McCain barely make eye contact over the course of a ninety-minute discussion. At other times, the debate moderators themselves become part of the story—and Lehrer is there to give us a backstage look at the drama. Peter Jennings suggests surprising the candidates by suspending the carefully negotiated rules minutes before the 1988 presidential debate—to the consternation of his fellow panelists. Lehrer himself weathers a firestorm of criticism over his performance as moderator of the 2000 Bush-Gore debate. And then there are the excruciating moments when audio lines go dead and TelePrompTers stay dark just seconds before going on the air live in front of a worldwide television audience of millions.

Asked to sum up his experience as a participant in high-level televised debates, President George H. W. Bush memorably likened them to an evening in “tension city.” In Jim Lehrer’s absorbing insider account, we find out that truer words were never spoken.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Randi | 2/3/2014

    " I felt like I was sitting on a covered porch, drinking lemonade as Jim Lehrer told me stories about presidential debates. This was a very quick, engaging read, but I do wish it had a little more depth. The journalist in me loved learning about how Lehrer prepped for the debates and his candid look at what went well (and not so well). A fun read in an election year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by James | 1/29/2014

    " Kind of a fluff read, but some interesting stuff on the behind-the-scenes of the televised debates. Read it for a class on Elections and the Media. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jo | 1/8/2014

    " A fast, easy read. I bought an autographed copy for my Dad for Christmas (which is why this review won't go up on Facebook as Dad lurks there on occasion), which I expect he will enjoy immensely as he is a long time fan of Jim Lehrer. For me, it was more lightweight than I expected: more anecdote than analysis (until the end section on how to be a good moderator). It was basically an insider's retrospective on about 40 years of the water cooler moments -- the moments people were talking about the next day -- from the four decades of presidential and vice-presidential debates, whether or not Lehrer moderated it. He interviewed most of the Presidents and most of the journalists present for those moments for their take on them as well. There is a fair amount of humor through out the book, and quite a few tributes to his wife. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jamie | 1/7/2014

    " I enjoyed this book until close to the end. The end seemed to be more about Lehrer and not on debates and it seemed to me that it lost its focus. Very interesting facts and anecdotes. "

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