cover image Talking Back: Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels

Talking Back: Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels

Andrea Mitchell, . . Viking, $25.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03403-1

Millions of TV viewers may feel they already know Mitchell—she has reported on politics for NBC for some 30 years and is married to the Fed's Alan Greenspan—but there's lots to learn about her in this engrossing memoir. Mitchell began as a "copyboy" at radio station KYW in Philadelphia in the 1970s. After covering the major political conventions for them, she was hired by NBC and headed to Washington. Shortly after, she flew to Guyana for her first major story: the 1978 Jonestown massacre. She has covered all the presidents from Carter through George W. Bush, done exclusives with Castro, sat in on high-level negotiations in the Middle East and North Korea, and much more. Mitchell's tales are fascinating, but her evolution as a journalist is even more intriguing. She was a gender pioneer, for example, but her gender rapidly became a nonissue. Yet her original insistence on a clear separation of work and social life seems progressively undercut by her own account. She mentions many dinners with dear friends like the Cheneys, and parties with the Bushes, Rice and Rumsfeld, and then wonders why the media got the Iraq WMD question so wrong. Still, this is a treat for political junkies. Agent, Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly. (On sale Sept. 12)