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Talking Back: ...to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels

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Andrea Mitchell started her pathbreaking career as the quintessential girl reporter and quickly became one of the first women in broadcast news. She's been labeled a pushy broad, yet her intelligence, tenacity, and ability to always be where the action is have catapulted her to the top of her profession. As one of America's most watched correspondents, Mitchell has regular Andrea Mitchell started her pathbreaking career as the quintessential girl reporter and quickly became one of the first women in broadcast news. She's been labeled a pushy broad, yet her intelligence, tenacity, and ability to always be where the action is have catapulted her to the top of her profession. As one of America's most watched correspondents, Mitchell has regularly shared her observations with millions of television viewers for more than three decades. Time and again, Mitchell has proven herself by taking on the tough assignments— starting with her first posting abroad in Guyana after the previous NBC correspondent had been murdered by Jim Jones’s henchmen. She has had unique access to all the presidents and their staffs from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, and here gives us her unvarnished insights into these men and those who surround them. Whether it was revealing that Ronald Reagan’s napping caused the delay of a space shuttle landing, conducting exclusive interviews with Fidel Castro, or accompanying Condoleezza Rice on her first trip abroad as secretary of state, she is known as the one to beat to the story. But what sets this book apart is not only the unique front-row seat Mitchell has in the political world, but also the role she plays in the glamorous social scene in Washington. Her marriage to Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, has created professional challenges, but also given her special entrée to the “A” list drawing rooms of Washington and other capitals. Here she gives us glimpses of what it’s like to go from a 7 p.m. newscast to an 8 p.m. black-tie party, to go from being the reporter staking out a state dinner to being one of the invited guests. Smart and candidly written, Mitchell’s memoir will be a must read for anyone interested in politics and current affairs and will also fascinate anyone who wonders what it’s like to be a powerful woman in a man’s world.


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Andrea Mitchell started her pathbreaking career as the quintessential girl reporter and quickly became one of the first women in broadcast news. She's been labeled a pushy broad, yet her intelligence, tenacity, and ability to always be where the action is have catapulted her to the top of her profession. As one of America's most watched correspondents, Mitchell has regular Andrea Mitchell started her pathbreaking career as the quintessential girl reporter and quickly became one of the first women in broadcast news. She's been labeled a pushy broad, yet her intelligence, tenacity, and ability to always be where the action is have catapulted her to the top of her profession. As one of America's most watched correspondents, Mitchell has regularly shared her observations with millions of television viewers for more than three decades. Time and again, Mitchell has proven herself by taking on the tough assignments— starting with her first posting abroad in Guyana after the previous NBC correspondent had been murdered by Jim Jones’s henchmen. She has had unique access to all the presidents and their staffs from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, and here gives us her unvarnished insights into these men and those who surround them. Whether it was revealing that Ronald Reagan’s napping caused the delay of a space shuttle landing, conducting exclusive interviews with Fidel Castro, or accompanying Condoleezza Rice on her first trip abroad as secretary of state, she is known as the one to beat to the story. But what sets this book apart is not only the unique front-row seat Mitchell has in the political world, but also the role she plays in the glamorous social scene in Washington. Her marriage to Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, has created professional challenges, but also given her special entrée to the “A” list drawing rooms of Washington and other capitals. Here she gives us glimpses of what it’s like to go from a 7 p.m. newscast to an 8 p.m. black-tie party, to go from being the reporter staking out a state dinner to being one of the invited guests. Smart and candidly written, Mitchell’s memoir will be a must read for anyone interested in politics and current affairs and will also fascinate anyone who wonders what it’s like to be a powerful woman in a man’s world.

30 review for Talking Back: ...to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joy H.

    Added 11/26/11. I'm currently listening to the audio version of this book. It's a very frank and open memoir of her life as a reporter. I find it to be an interesting review of the current events which I've observed over the years. The behind-the-scenes nature of the book makes it even more interesting. Addendum: During January 2012, I finished listening to this audiobook. I found it very interesting and it was nice getting to know about Andrea Mitchell's life. I liked her strong delivery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Not only do you get an insight into what it takes to be a successful woman reporter, you get an excellent picture of some of the most influential political leaders and events of our lifetime, through Andrea's eyes. It was also interesting to hear how she kept her professional life and personal life separate and retained her credibility as a reporter. (She is married to Alan Greenspan, past chairman of the Federal Reserve, and often socialized with many of the people she was covering as a reporte Not only do you get an insight into what it takes to be a successful woman reporter, you get an excellent picture of some of the most influential political leaders and events of our lifetime, through Andrea's eyes. It was also interesting to hear how she kept her professional life and personal life separate and retained her credibility as a reporter. (She is married to Alan Greenspan, past chairman of the Federal Reserve, and often socialized with many of the people she was covering as a reporter.) This book is a must for political/news junkies like me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lenny Husen

    Very enjoyable audio book. Too bad it is abridged--parts choppy and transitions sometimes uneven. Loved her voice and style. Good memoir of an interesting career woman. She is very fair and balanced in her reporting. This was a great overview of current political events in my lifetime, starting from the 1960's to 2005. Would love for her to write a second book about all the happenings since then.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joy H.

    Added 12/18/15 Andrea Mitchell's experiences as a journalist are amazing! There's a lot of world history in this book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Norris

    I thought this was an excellent look at the other side of the news. I admit I listened to the cd audio version that was abridged but it was still well told. The insider information that we never hear was most interesting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    written in 2005 covering many political stories and struck by how little has changed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Tim Russert, Steve Roberts, and now Andrea Mitchell, all in one year. I was curious to find out more about Mitchell’s personal life, and also to learn about the life of a TV news reporter, and the book served that purpose for me. Parts of the book got a little tedious, but were generally interesting as a crash review course in U.S. history and politics over the past thirty years. Mitchell grew up in a Jewish family in New Rochelle, NY, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She went Tim Russert, Steve Roberts, and now Andrea Mitchell, all in one year. I was curious to find out more about Mitchell’s personal life, and also to learn about the life of a TV news reporter, and the book served that purpose for me. Parts of the book got a little tedious, but were generally interesting as a crash review course in U.S. history and politics over the past thirty years. Mitchell grew up in a Jewish family in New Rochelle, NY, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She went to work for TV station KWY in Philadelphia, where she covered Mayor Frank Rizzo, and eventually moved on to an NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. She has traveled extensively all over the world as well as in the US. I was interested in her schedule, which at times can be grueling, to meet deadlines and do stories for the Today show in the middle of the night from Europe or Asia so that they can appear the next morning here. She dated Alan Greenspan for years before they decided to marry in 1997 – an apparently very happy marriage. They have had to work hard at keeping their careers separate so that neither would compromise the other’s sources or knowledge.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Irving Koppel

    "Talking Back...to Presidents,Dictators and Assorted Scoundrels" Whether it was editing her sixth grade school newspaper or acting as a TV anchor,Andrea Mitchell has always displayed the best quality of a news reporter. Born and reared in New Rochelle,New York,she went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania.Being in Philadelphia, she began her career by covering the tough mayor of that city,Phil Rizzo.He was good practice for many of the leaders of America and of other countries that she wa "Talking Back...to Presidents,Dictators and Assorted Scoundrels" Whether it was editing her sixth grade school newspaper or acting as a TV anchor,Andrea Mitchell has always displayed the best quality of a news reporter. Born and reared in New Rochelle,New York,she went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania.Being in Philadelphia, she began her career by covering the tough mayor of that city,Phil Rizzo.He was good practice for many of the leaders of America and of other countries that she was destined to meet and interview. Never hesitating to pose the newsworthy questions,she became known as the "Attack Dog".Though not always beloved by those in power because of her penetrating questions and analyses,she,nevertheless, was respected by such varied leaders as Rizzo,Castro,Clinton and W.Bush. Her colleagues extend to her their utmost respect,for she is the gold standard of reportage. Her writing is clear and compelling. It is a book that is difficult to put down.Should you enjoy going behind the scenes in Washington,Moscow or Havana,you will find this book an excellent resource.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Currie

    I've always liked Andrea Mitchell on the news altho I didn't know much about her past or her personal life other than she is married to Alan Greeenspan. She doesn't talk alot about either in the book altho there ceratinly is some of that. The first half of the book I found particularly entertaining. Hearing about her early reporting days and alot of events I didn't know alot about made me look forward to reading it every night. The second half I didn't find quite as much fun. There is alot more I've always liked Andrea Mitchell on the news altho I didn't know much about her past or her personal life other than she is married to Alan Greeenspan. She doesn't talk alot about either in the book altho there ceratinly is some of that. The first half of the book I found particularly entertaining. Hearing about her early reporting days and alot of events I didn't know alot about made me look forward to reading it every night. The second half I didn't find quite as much fun. There is alot more in that portion about her place in the news instead of simply covering it. There is no doubt these days to a large extent the reporter is the story. This is troubling but true, but less interesting, to me. I also found the title of the book somewhat of a misnomer. There is some back and forth with a few presidents, but very little mention about world leaders, save for Fidel Castro. I was expecting more of that. I'd give the first half 4 stars and the second half 3.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Andrea Mitchell has been in national news for over 30 years, and the breadth of her knowledge of politics and the news industry is incredible. A colleague of mine remembered her as a beat reporter in Philly, where she got started. Her description of the events she covered--and the "skinny" behind-the-scenes--was fascinating. Mitchell was careful to be as neutral as possible in describing American politicians, although for some political/newsworthy figures she clearly has no love. On the downside Andrea Mitchell has been in national news for over 30 years, and the breadth of her knowledge of politics and the news industry is incredible. A colleague of mine remembered her as a beat reporter in Philly, where she got started. Her description of the events she covered--and the "skinny" behind-the-scenes--was fascinating. Mitchell was careful to be as neutral as possible in describing American politicians, although for some political/newsworthy figures she clearly has no love. On the downside, the book ended abruptly with the "I'm lucky to be a reporter" line, as if she ran out of time. In any case, it was a fine read, and I recommend it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marylou

    I have mixed feelings about this biography. She goes overboard telling us how she stays unbiased during her reporting days ... but when you're having a private dinner with the Vice President, etc., as the wife of Alan Greenspan, I think it's impossible to write something derogatory about that person. She also got such special treatment covering Presidents, etc., I just wonder. I think the most amazing thing is that I have seldom seen "Nightly News" the program she is always trying to be prepared I have mixed feelings about this biography. She goes overboard telling us how she stays unbiased during her reporting days ... but when you're having a private dinner with the Vice President, etc., as the wife of Alan Greenspan, I think it's impossible to write something derogatory about that person. She also got such special treatment covering Presidents, etc., I just wonder. I think the most amazing thing is that I have seldom seen "Nightly News" the program she is always trying to be prepared for "going live." I really do not think I've ever seen her on TV! Lots of history in this book ... my kind of book! Just not sure I liked all of her perspectives on the history!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    This book is interesting because it takes you through political history and explains what was going on through the eyes of a reporter. The title makes you think she angered lots of people, but that is a small part of the book. She had to be outspoken to do her job, and some people weren't used to a woman acting and talking assertively. I am enjoying her candid writing style, and when I see her on the Today show I feel like I know her a little from reading this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Naples

    This book could have been so much better if the author had talked more about herself and less about the news she covered. This was my first time reading the autobiograhy of a serious journalist and I guess I was hoping for more of a description of how she transitioned from a struggling beat reporter to a national NBC correspondent. I'm glad I read it but wouldn't really recommend it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Andrea Mitchell's memoir of her life and times gathering and presenting the news - even the night her husband, Alan Greenspan, received a phone call, at a party, informing him that Saddam Hussein had been captured. It was the next morning before Mitchell was awoken by someone calling from NBC before she knew.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leticia

    I don't really care for Andrea Mitchell, but it was a pretty good book. I didn't realize how her role as a woman impacted her career as a journalist. She got into the business when the doors weren't as open for women as for men. She also tells a lot about her relationship to now-husband Alan Greenspan (former Chairman of the Federal Reserve).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    I liked this book because Andra Mitchell is about my age and the historical characters and events she described reporting as her reporting career developed were familiar to me. I like her style - firm, but at the same time humble. She personally spent time with some big names as she covered her news assignments.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenny M

    I have always liked Mitchell's reporting style as the Chief Foreign Correspondent on NBC News, so I enjoyed reading about her perspective on some of the big (and not so big) stories she's done. Also, she's married to Alan Greenspan for god's sake, so there must be an interesting story there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Misty

    I didn't really finish the book. I got a little bored. But it was interesting and informative of politics before my time. I think once I hit the Clinton era (about when I started to pay attention to politics seriously) I got bored

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emiliano Orencia

    Mitchell gives you a history lesson based on her various reporting and travels through the world. Her insight in the book is as good as her "breaking news" or perspective on current political issues.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mick

    Andrea makes the historical content interesting and insightful. I wish my career was as exciting. How may of us can truly say, "Along this journey, I have made sacrifices I sometimes regret, although none so important that I would take the path not chosen." Go for it Andrea.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Mitchell's journalist skills reveal fascinating American & world history of the past few decades. Since she chose first person/memoir though, I was expecting to learn more about her & her reactions to what she experienced. Well-written, of course, but too hands-off for me to fully enjoy. Mitchell's journalist skills reveal fascinating American & world history of the past few decades. Since she chose first person/memoir though, I was expecting to learn more about her & her reactions to what she experienced. Well-written, of course, but too hands-off for me to fully enjoy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Andrea Mitchell has led an exceptional career. Unfortunately, she adds a lot of her personal life & quite frankly, I don't care about that. So, I'd say 75% is excellent, 25% was fluff. Andrea Mitchell has led an exceptional career. Unfortunately, she adds a lot of her personal life & quite frankly, I don't care about that. So, I'd say 75% is excellent, 25% was fluff.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    Andrea Mitchell gives a very non-biased view of the historical events she covered in her career. It was really interesting and gave a very human perspective on critical events in history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean Reed

    Insight into happenings in the years past.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Decent book with some interesting insight into Andrea Mitchell's life... but nothing earth-shattering.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Interested behind the scenes look into the lives of reporters & journalists and the people they cover. Interested behind the scenes look into the lives of reporters & journalists and the people they cover.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Herb

    This was a great read. The story of Andrea Mitchell's journalistic life and career is wonderfully interesting, chock full of great stories. A must read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    Waste of time. Nothing new here. Shallow and vapid.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    Not much new in the book, but enjoyable to relive recent history. Pretty soft regarding individuals and events.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emmett

    Interesting review of events over the past few years. I listened to the auido version. I would very much liked to have listened to Andrea Mitchell read her own memoir.

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