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Editorial Reviews

This experience is the closest you'll ever get to a time machine. Listen in on Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon sweating through some of the biggest political crises of their careers, including Kennedy wrestling through a segregation showdown in Mississippi, Lyndon Johnson flexing his political muscle, and Richard Nixon painting himself into a corner during the Watergate crisis. Be forewarned - even Presidents use foul language in private moments, and Johnson and Nixon let it all hang out.

You're not going to get an in-depth or well-rounded look at these presidencies. But it is fascinating to hear these men work and speak without the aid of a prepared speech or public relations manager. If only C-Span was this interesting!

Publisher's Summary

Three of America's most compelling presidents, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, bugged their White House offices and tapped their telephones. They left behind thousands of secretly recorded conversations, from momentous to mundane. In this documentary project, American RadioWorks eavesdrops on presidential telephone calls to hear how each man used one-on-one politics to shape history.
Click here to listen to more great radio documentaries from American RadioWorks.
Also, you can hear more of President Johnson's phone calls with presidential historian Michael Beschloss' Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-65.
©2003 American Public Media

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Brian
  • South Beloit, IL, USA
  • 03-13-05

Good Concept But Very Little Content

Good idea, but this title is only 50 minutes long and includes a lot of narration by the publisher. How about actually letting us listen to "The President Calling" instead of someone else talking about the Presidential conversations? I didn't find it worth the money.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Could you put the president on the phone?

When I downloaded this title, I was hoping for a story rich with audio clips from presidents that offered new insights into their lives. Unfortunately, what I got instead was a slanted commentary on three controversial presidents (Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon), long on commentary from the "host" and short on actual presidential telephone recordings.

The book starts with an account of Kennedy and clips of him dealing with the governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, trying to persuade him to end segregation at the University of Mississippi. I was encouraged that the book was going to be interesting at this point.

However, it next moved into an account of LBJ, painting him as a misunderstood president, who "lost control" of the Vietnam War. This made absolutely no sense to me, since he was the Commander-in-Chief and exercised more control over that war than he should have (remember the Tuesday lunches?), and this control directly contributed to American loss of life (over 60% of the 58,000+ casualties from the 15-year conflict occurred during his 5 years in office). But he gets a pass. On the other hand, the characterization of Nixon was predictably one-sided, depicting him as a racist, hypocritical drunk in addition to tired portrayal of him as a man "at war with himself"...

To sum up, this book is not a story about the phone calls of the presidents. It is a politically motivated propaganda audio-leaflet sparsely illustrated by short, carefully chosen excerpts that support the author's goal of absolving LBJ of his incredibly bad leadership, while relentlessly attacking Nixon...again.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Shame more presidents didn't do this sort of thing

What made the experience of listening to White House Tapes the most enjoyable?

The background on it and the bits of taped conversations.

What did you like best about this story?

The bits of recored conversation they used.

Have you listened to any of the narrator’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I hadn't before.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes considering how short it is.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Arnold
  • toronto, ON, Canada
  • 04-27-13

Behind The Scenes With The Presidents

Fascinating to hear Kennedy and a two faced Mississippi governor talking about implementing a court order regarding segregation and how Kennedy worked him into a corner. Johnson gives a great life lesson on how to influence people. Nixon says unbelievable things, how did he forget it was all being recorded?

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

President tapes humanize the office

It was a rare and interesting peak into history for someone who was born after all the turmoil.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful