Around the Island

Hearing ‘Confessions of a White House Ghostwriter’



Author, historian and raconteur James C. Humes will be the special guest at Friday Night Dialogues at the Library on August 8 at 7 p.m.

His is a unique look at the inner workings of the White House and the presidents for whom Mr. Humes served as speechwriter — Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. His memoir, “Confessions of a White House Ghostwriter: Five Presidents and Other Political Adventures,” captures with wit and insight some wonderful anecdotes of that 25-year career, literally spent putting words into the mouths of these leaders.

South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings put it this way: “Some speechwriters put notes to history. James Humes is history.” Or as President Ford said, “In speechwriting, Jamie Humes puts the raisins into the muffin.”

Before his speechwriting adventures, Mr. Humes lectured globally for the U.S. State Department on aspects of American government and served as a communications advisor to major U.S. corporations, among them, IBM and Dupont. He has also been a trial lawyer in Philadelphia, a Pennsylvania State legislator and a college professor.

By his own admission, Mr. Humes has two dominant passions: love of history and love of the English language. The author of more than 25 books, he was nominated for a Pulitzer for “Churchill: Speaker of the Century.” His most recent Churchill book, “Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman,” published in 2012, has been hailed by David Eisenhower as “a book that is unique as well as necessary for an understanding of statesmanship” and fellow writer Michael Keane wrote, “Humes gives us a stunning but overlooked version of conjectural history.”

Mr. Humes was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his biographies of Churchill as well as Shakespeare and was appointed a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the Center for International Scholars at the Smithsonian. He has lectured in all 50 states and in 26 countries, leading to several books on public speaking, from “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers” to “More Podium Humor.” The latter, published in 1993, was the product of more than 1,800 talks and seminars he had given worldwide.

His one-man shows have featured Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin and Churchill. His “Wit and Wisdom” books on Reagan, Franklin, Churchill, Lincoln and, most recently, FDR, are compilations of thousands of quotations and anecdotes.

Mr. Humes’ one foray into fiction writing, “Target Churchill,” co-authored by Warren Adler and published in 2013, has been purchased for movie rights. This book, about a post-WW II plot to kill Churchill, will be available for signing by the author, in addition to other selected titles.

Friday Night Dialogues is a free event with donations very welcome.

What better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying the wit and wisdom of James Humes himself!

Coming up: Islander Leah Friedman will read excerpts from her book, “Essie Finkelstein: Monologues for an Actress,” on August 15; historian and diplomat Dryden G. Liddle, a summer resident on Ram Island, will discuss his book, “Emperor Augustus” on August 22; followed by “Red Hot Patriot,” a one-woman show with resident Jenifer Corwin Maxson on August 29.