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Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  482 ratings  ·  56 reviews
I'm still here, still arriving at the White House in the wee hours of the morning, reading the papers and checking the wire, still waiting for the morning briefing, still sitting down to write the first story of the day and still waiting to ask the tough questions.

From the woman who has reported on every president from Kennedy to Clinton for United Press International: a
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 3rd 2000 by Scribner (first published May 1st 1999)
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"Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times" by Helen Thomas is one of the best books of its kind that I have ever read. Richly insightful, highly informative and at turns revelatory, it is not simply a story of Helen Thomas' life and career in journalism. It is also an ongoing history of the eight Presidential administrations --- from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton --- that Helen Thomas covered as a journalist with United Press International (UPI).

Of all the journalists of the White
Sherry Sharpnack
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remember Helen Thomas as a journalistic bloodhound, in the front row of White House news conferences. Her book, Front Row at the White House, is basically a loosely-organized series of anecdotes about her 30+ years covering eight presidents from Kennedy to Clinton. This book has been on my TBR pile for years, and honestly, I waited too long to read it. The big scandal 20 years ago was Clintons impeachment over lying and obstructing justice in his affair w/ Monica Lewinsky. Thomas was horrified ...more
Feb 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Oh Helen. Why don't you tell me a little about yourself? I want to know what makes you tick. What made you and how you feel. I do not want an endless monologue about the people you met in your career and the awards and accolades you have won. After trudging through the first half of your book, I know more about the last eight Presidents of the US than I know about you. And the book is suppose to be about you! Or so says the title.
There was some interesting material in here but it is presented in a disorganized way. I understand that she had so much history to write about that she was probably overwhelmed by the task. However, an editor should have insisted on helping her present the material in a better way. Right now, it's hard to follow because she jumps from President to President, place to place, anecdote to anecdote, all within the same chapter. Her personal history is interspersed with the political history. She ...more
John Petrocelli
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review: Helen Thomas provides the reader with a unique glimpse of eight US Presidents one that an ordinary citizen is unable to obtain. As the antithesis of the usually nameless and faceless wire service reporter. (p.121), Thomas gives an honest look at the Presidency and the lives of the First Ladies. The author seems to document the most interesting and rare realities of the Presidents in the White House, aboard Air Force One, and abroad. She describes the idiosyncrasies, vulnerabilities, ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Many people didn't seem to like Helen Thomas~I was always interested in her. This book offered me a great POV of a reporter as well as different POV's of the presidents and news she observed. There was a lot of information in this book about private moments in the White House, funny moments, and a lot more. A great read for me and for anyone wanting to have a more inside look at the Presidents that were covered by her.
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I recently attended a CityClub meeting at which Helen Thomas was honored/shared some of her personal stories. She is truly an amazing woman. So witty, bright, intuative, and funny. And, what a trailblazer. I really enjoyed learning more about her background (I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she's Lebanese American) and the history of the relationship between the press and the white house.
Tamara Bennett
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Thomas led a fascinating life covering US presidents from JFK to Obama. Many insights into their personalities & governing styles. Loved the personal moments she had w/ them. Appreciated the mutual respect between the Office & the press. Wish Ms. Thomas was around to cover the current administration. She was a force to be reckoned with & would have loved to watch her now.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adore Helen Thomas. Learning more about her and her career through her own words made me love and respect her even more. An eye opening read to see how the relationship and between the POTUS and the media has evolved throughout the administrations.
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I felt like the book told a lot of what she saw, but not enough of who she is. That being said, I did learn a lot and really enjoyed Helen's stories of her amazing career.
Will Byrnes
Helen can be annoying, and it could have been much better, but it does give one a taste of what it is to be a White House correspondent.
Front Row at the White House by Helen Thomas
4 stars
I so enjoyed this book. I picked it up on cassette at my library when I was scanning the shelves for something that would fit the history tag. Before the end of the tapes, I ordered a used copy so I could read it and soak in the details. This memoir of Thomas years as a White House reporter and correspondent was published in 1999 and covers spresidencies through the Clinton years. It is full of fascinating personal insights about the history of
Barbara Switzer
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was at times repetitive: Thomas used the same stories in different contexts. As I got further into the book it seemed that Thomas was a bit self-aggrandizing; however, she is a remarkable woman who used clear and sharp questioning in her role as a White House correspondent which kept the public informed. One point she made over and over again is that a free press is vital to maintain a democracy. I agree. Her writing is journalistic and not as elegant as some books I've been reading lately.
Tom Spann
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thomas makes no bones about her liberal leanings, but throughout her tenure with UPI she never lost sight of her mission as a reporter. Thomas remained a constant throughout the eight administrations she covered. The variable over those years were the administrations themselves. It is that variable that I found most interesting about her book. Eight presidents and eight wildly variable views of the press and the president 's relationship with the people who reported White House news. Helen did ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Thomas shares many interesting and compelling anecdotes and insight in this book. The surprisingly poor organization and writing nearly caused me stop reading it. Think twice about how much time you have to invest in reading before you start this book!
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
"In college I found out how the other half lives. I hadn't thought much about that before. My personal ideals stretched into broader ideals for all humanity. I love life. I love people. I love trees and rivers and hills and lakes and fields and good books and music and fires under great trees and in fireplaces. I love good conversation and heated debate and politics and newspapermen and politicians. I love good, kindly, mellow, well-balanced people. I love green grass and blue skies and F street ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating to listen to. Thomas started her career during WWII, when women were much more rare in journalism and print was king. I got a journalism degree immediately after Watergate-- I watched John Dean's testimony in the Watergate hearings the summer after my freshman year in college. The internet was unheard of, and television was king, but CNN didn't exist. It was really interesting to hear about the evolution of the news, how much has changed and how much hasn't. I enjoyed it a lot (and ...more
I hate abridgements. I always want to know what I am missing. I probably should have gotten the Kindle format instead (I didn't realize it was an abridgement until after I had already listened to it.

I did like the fact the intro was done by Thomas herself.
Ryan Moore
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent look at life in the WH Press Corp from a legend in the business.
Mary Beth
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Some interesting insight into the inner workings of the White House and the reporting of the news. Somewhat repetitive. Also good information about each President that Ms. Thomas worked with.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Great respect for Helen Thomas, but I found this book far too repetitive.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
#92 of 120 books pledged to read during 2019
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Helen give great insights into many presidents' relationships with the press over the years. No better time to read this!
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interested in having a chat with someone who has known and reported on eight US Presidents? That's basically what this book is. A candid, off-the-cuff chat with Helen Thomas about everything from Monica Lewinsky to Watergate to the many charities that have benefited from the First Ladies of the US.

As Thomas carries you through her own story, each of the First Ladies and then each POTUS from Kennedy to Clinton this book has a bit of repetition, some parts that could have been tightened up a bit
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
How in the name of common sense did Helen Thomas, mistress of the concise question and pithy press piece, forget a simple proverb that has served her so well? Namely, Short and Sweet is Hard to Beat.

The stories she tells succeed at about a 60% clip. Not bad for a memoir. And, she was in alot of the right places at alot of the right times to have a treasure chest of wonderful anecdotes. But, she tells them in a whirlwind fashion with few pauses and little by way of transitions. Its not quite
Sep 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was an interesting read to find out what the life of a White House reporter is really like. I found the way she broke up the book to be a bit disjointed, but it was still a decent read. There were plenty of insider tidbits about the Presidents she's covered (Kennedy to Clinton - she's still there covering Obama, to my knowledge, but she stopped at Clinton for the sake of this book), which was fun; but overall you learned more about her. I would've liked to have heard a little more about her ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating and entertaining account of the American Presidency and the American press corp by senior journalist, Helen Thomas. In this book, Thomas covers 8 presidents from Kennedy to Clinton, charts the role of the press in holding presidents to account, and describes life in the White House, on Airforce One, and on the campaign trail.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I put this on my list when Thomas died last month. Interesting read, although it becomes tedious near the end, as she labors to summarize in fairly minute detail each of the presidencies she covered. Better, to my mind, were her personal anecdotes about the very flawed, very real men and women she covered.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, history
Plain, journalistic writing but the insider anecdotes held my interest. This book spans Thomas's early life and career and ends with the Clinton administration. Thomas began covering the White House in the Kennedy years and has a lot to say about the character and politics of all of these men and their families.
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics, biography
Got this as a used book. It was o.k, a little disappointing. The first part jumps around back and forth from president to president, sometimes one paragraph to the next. Toward the end she gets more chronological but then it becomes mostly just history you've read other places. I felt it needed a better editor!
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Helen Thomas was a noted news service reporter, a Hearst Newspapers columnist, and member of the White House Press Corps. She served for fifty-seven years as a correspondent and, later, White House bureau chief for United Press International (UPI). Thomas covered every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, was the first woman member ...more

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63 likes · 26 comments
“Proof of the power of the press is the fear of the press by the government.

Martha Gellhorn as quoted by Helen Thomas”
“Anybody in public life is well aware of how important the judgments of the press are. I'm firmly convinced that if the good Lord had made the world today, he would have spent six days creating the heavens and earth and all the living creatures upon it. But on the seventh day, he would not have rested. He would have had to justify it to Helen Thomas. (Gerald Ford as quoted by Helen Thomas.)” 6 likes
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