Listening to History

Thirty years ago, Peggy Suntum got a phone call saying the Marine barracks in Beirut had been attacked. She was supposed to start work as a White House stenographer the next day, but officials needed her right away. It was a fitting launch for a whirlwind career that has spanned five presidencies and roughly 80 countries and seen the inside of the Oval Office, the upstairs of Air Force One, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fresh rubble of the World Trade Center.

Each President's style has presented challenges. Suntum had to adjust to Bill Clinton's Ozark vernacular, George...

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