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White House Interpreter: The Art of Interpretation

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Harry Obst interpreted for seven American presidents. This book takes a look at five of them from the interpreter's perspective inside and outside the Oval Office: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Most Americans have very little familiarity with professional interpreting, a profession known fairly well in Europe and Canada. After finishing WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER, Harry Obst interpreted for seven American presidents. This book takes a look at five of them from the interpreter's perspective inside and outside the Oval Office: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Most Americans have very little familiarity with professional interpreting, a profession known fairly well in Europe and Canada. After finishing WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER, the reader will understand what interpreting is all about and why this profession is of considerable importance to many segments of our society: from the White House to the courthouse, from the military battlefield to our hospitals. Many thousands of highly trained professional interpreters and translators help the European nations and other highly developed countries successfully export large amounts of goods and services and keep millions of jobs at home. Obst examines the dismal training picture in the United States and urges remedial action. The book is written for the general reader. The author avoids the linguistic jargon. He mixes the technical information with interesting anecdotes, many of them never published before.


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Harry Obst interpreted for seven American presidents. This book takes a look at five of them from the interpreter's perspective inside and outside the Oval Office: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Most Americans have very little familiarity with professional interpreting, a profession known fairly well in Europe and Canada. After finishing WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER, Harry Obst interpreted for seven American presidents. This book takes a look at five of them from the interpreter's perspective inside and outside the Oval Office: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Most Americans have very little familiarity with professional interpreting, a profession known fairly well in Europe and Canada. After finishing WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER, the reader will understand what interpreting is all about and why this profession is of considerable importance to many segments of our society: from the White House to the courthouse, from the military battlefield to our hospitals. Many thousands of highly trained professional interpreters and translators help the European nations and other highly developed countries successfully export large amounts of goods and services and keep millions of jobs at home. Obst examines the dismal training picture in the United States and urges remedial action. The book is written for the general reader. The author avoids the linguistic jargon. He mixes the technical information with interesting anecdotes, many of them never published before.

30 review for White House Interpreter: The Art of Interpretation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    Trump's Recently Disclosed Putin Conversation Is 'Nixon All Over Again' in: http://www.npr.org/2017/07/21/5383599...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Harry Obst

    The review published at goodreads under "description" refers to another unnamed book and has nothing whatsoever to do with my book on five American presidents, WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER. Please click on "amazon.com" or "authorhouse.com" or Barnes& Noble.com, if you want to find out what WHITE HOUSE INTERPRETER is all about. H. Obst

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philipp Hartmann

    A combination of professional biography and description of the profession of interpretation itself, this book offers unique insights into the way (diplomatic) interpreters work. The author clearly grasps the essential requirements and challenges professional interpreters have to face. Furthermore, he bemoans the fact that little has been done to remediate the untenable situation of almost no institution in the United States offering training to qualify interpreters for the various tasks they A combination of professional biography and description of the profession of interpretation itself, this book offers unique insights into the way (diplomatic) interpreters work. The author clearly grasps the essential requirements and challenges professional interpreters have to face. Furthermore, he bemoans the fact that little has been done to remediate the untenable situation of almost no institution in the United States offering training to qualify interpreters for the various tasks they need to master. The chapter on anecdotes towards the end is pure gold. One minus is that the author is quite unequivocal about certain subjects and personalities, making this book quite subjective in the process. I think it could have been a little more neutral at times. However, it's a great book, absolutely worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    E.M. Epps

    The author is German-English interpreter who served the U.S. State Department for nineteen years, working with seven presidents. He does a brilliant job of mixing on-the-job anecdotes – sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing, always interesting – with non-technical descriptions of what an interpreter does, while throughout making the clear and illuminating point of why it is one of the most important jobs that no one thinks about. For a writing project of my own, I was looking for books that The author is German-English interpreter who served the U.S. State Department for nineteen years, working with seven presidents. He does a brilliant job of mixing on-the-job anecdotes – sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing, always interesting – with non-technical descriptions of what an interpreter does, while throughout making the clear and illuminating point of why it is one of the most important jobs that no one thinks about. For a writing project of my own, I was looking for books that would immerse the reader in the experience of being an interpreter. This is the only one easily available. Luckily, it is excellent. A fascinating quick read that I would recommend to any reader who is interested in recent history, language, or merely learning about a facet of life and world affairs that is both desperately important and thoroughly overlooked (especially by Americans). SAMPLE PARAGRAPH The interpreter in the booth needs to notice such things [as the conference chair taking off his headphones to greet a dignitary]. That is why the booth has glass in the front through which speakers, graphics on the wall, and the room can be visually monitored. The conference chair is the most important client of the interpreter. The interpreter, who normally is too busy to write anything down, starts to make some notes, so he can later give the chair a summary of the three or four sentences he is now missing out on. When the chairman has his earphones back on, the interpreter gives him the quick summary. This puts him two and a half sentences behind the speaker. He now has to speed up all his analysis and speaking actions, because his brain cannot keep on memorizing two and a half sentences. He quickly needs to get back within one sentence. Of course, he could just drop two sentences. Remember Rosemary Woods and the missing eighteen seconds? He may never hear the end of it. Nobody ever got punished for criticizing an interpreter. This review originally appeared on my blog, This Space Intentionally Left Blank .

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Not the finest writing or editing, but some interesting anecdotes about interpreting experiences mixed with good information on interpreting, particularly diplomatic interpreting. Highly recommend ti!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Henriette

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie Sayles

  8. 4 out of 5

    UTIBE A NKANGA

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brent Edwards

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tam Nguyen

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristie

  14. 4 out of 5

    patricia j patane

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Luckham

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerome Hanson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Radandima

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nelvi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vivian Lai

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Connolly

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karen Chung

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eva

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jiyeah Emilia Ree

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Nw

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