Tension City by Jim Lehrer
Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain

89%

9 Critic Reviews

A limited but entertaining peek at some of what goes on behind the curtain.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

With an update by the author for the 2012 election.
 
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. 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 illuminates what he calls the “Major Moments” and “killer questions” that defined the debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain. In this paperback edition, he also offers his expert analysis of the 2012 Republican primary debates.
 
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 account, we find out that truer words were never spoken.
 
“A brisk and engaging memoir.”—The Washington Post
 
“Enthralling . . . remarkable . . . a wonderful political memoir.”—Bookreporter
 
“A really good read . . . [There is] no debating quality of Jim Lehrer’s book.”—Associated Press
 
“Jim Lehrer is a national monument, and this riveting book shows how he became America’s moderator.”—Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage
 
“A political junkie’s backstage pass.”—The Capital Times
 

About Jim Lehrer

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Jim Lehrer is the author of twenty novels, two memoirs, and three plays, and for years was the executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour on PBS. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his novelist wife, Kate. They have three daughters.
 
Published September 13, 2011 by Random House. 225 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Tension City
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jun 15 2011

A limited but entertaining peek at some of what goes on behind the curtain.

Read Full Review of Tension City: Inside the Pres... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on Sep 15 2011

While informative and enjoyable to read, Lehrer’s account of his years as debate moderator is also a disquieting book.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Coyne Jr on Jan 06 2012

...walks us through some of the more notable verbal gaffes and masterstrokes, all of which might have turned the elections.

Read Full Review of Tension City: Inside the Pres... | See more reviews from Washington Times

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeff Shesol on Sep 15 2011

Now he has collected his impressions in “Tension City,” a brisk and engaging memoir of his “view from the middle seat.”

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Deseret News

Excellent
Reviewed by Mike Householder on Sep 14 2011

The result is an illuminating behind-the-scenes look — from all perspectives — at a quadrennial event the author likens to "walking down the blade of a knife."

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Boston.com

Below average
Reviewed by Jesse Singal on Sep 24 2011

Unfortunately, it’s a mostly uninteresting, scattershot effort that seems more preoccupied with sharing insidery tidbits than with casting any new light on the history and process of presidential debates.

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My San Antonio

Excellent
Reviewed by M.McAllen Amberson on Sep 08 2011

In this slim volume, readers will enjoy reliving pivotal moments not forgotten by Lehrer, who was a nervous wreck through most debates.

Read Full Review of Tension City: Inside the Pres...

History News Network

Excellent
Reviewed by Luther Spoehr on Sep 25 2011

His book is hardly the definitive work on past confrontations, but it is invaluable for showing just how much work it takes and how worthwhile it is to be—yes--truly fair and balanced.

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Bonjour Cass.

Good
Reviewed by Cass on Sep 28 2011

...the book is most vivid and engaging when Lehrer is discussing his own experience; this section of the book reads as a memoir, complete with behind-the-scenes information and reflection.

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Reader Rating for Tension City
68%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 54 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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