Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Tension City by Jim Lehrer

Tension City, by Jim Lehrer (2011)
[Cover image courtesy of PBS.org]

For people who follow presidential debates, Tension City is both wonderful for its insights on the process and tiresome for its focus on the "key debate moments" that we have heard about many times through the years: George W. Bush looking at his watch, the "you're no Jack Kennedy" moment, Ford on Soviet influence in Europe, sweaty Nixon, etc.

So why did I like it? Two reasons:

1. Jim Lehrer has moderated more debates than anyone else, and his unique perspective from the moderator's chair gives insight that one rarely sees or hears about in all the discussion and punditry of presidential debates.

2. I listened to this book as an audiobook, narrated by Lehrer himself and including actual audio from the moments in debate history that he refers to throughout the book. That alone makes this a brilliant piece of nonfiction, because you can't read a quote and get the tone and tenor of the moment that is the most important aspect of how a statement is PERCEIVED in a presidential debate.

So it's a fantastic book when listened to in audio form, but otherwise just a good book about presidential debate history coupled with the view from the moderator's chair if you're reading it in print.

4 Stars.