HOLD ON, MR. PRESIDENT by Sam Donaldson
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Gossipy, back-newsroom anecdotes and asides highlight this fast and funny autobiography from ABC's White House correspondent. Donaldson's usual TV format limits him to three minutes or less; this habituation to brevity shows in his choppy, sometimes slapdash style. But Donaldson knows what his audience wants--hard, juicy stuff in quick, stiff doses--and he delivers soundly, using his own story primarily as background as he focuses on Presidents and other dignitaries he has covered. Thus, fascinating firsthand material on Carter (""the most unpretentious politician I had ever encountered"") and Reagan (""his mind leaves a lot to be desired"") lies at the book's center. Surrounding this core of snappy Oval Office observation are Donaldson's insights into the rough and tumble business of network news, featuring summary portraits of his colleagues (Barbara Walters: ""not a terrific anchor""; Ted Koppel: ""a master politician, the best at ABC""), and thoughtful, if not profound, discussions of the dicey nature of deadline reporting. The most interesting of these comes in the book's opening chapter, where Donaldson reflects on the best ways to question a President: not, for instance, to ask a question as duckable as ""What about the Russians?,"" to which Reagan once replied, ""What about them?"" Layered within these tales of broadcasting triumph and peril is Donaldson's personal saga, a rocky road to semi-stardom which he evidently has trod with acrid good humor. These brisk memoirs reveal little about Donaldson himself, but provide an unusually frank and amusing look at the inside world of TV newscasting. An enjoyable, informative piece of work that should have very broad appeal.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1987
Publisher: Random House