The Gist: Brad Meltzer on The President’s Shadow and Barack Obama’s speech in Charleston.

Why Do Ex-Presidents Dish to This Novelist? 

Why Do Ex-Presidents Dish to This Novelist? 

A daily news and culture podcast with Mike Pesca.
June 29 2015 7:34 PM

The Following Story Is Based on Real Presidents

To write about the leader of the free world, novelist Brad Meltzer says it helps to know a few commanders-in-chief (and their Secret Service agents).

The Gist has moved! Find new episodes here.

The Bushes.
What the Bush family says when fiction writers are around.

Photo by John Mottern/AFP/Getty Images.

Listen to Episode 287 of Slate’s The Gist:


Today on The Gist, the return of “Names in the News!” Plus, Brad Melzer from the Lost History TV series explains how real presidential lore and relationships influenced his new novel The President’s Shadow. You can hear Brad’s previous appearance on The Gist here. For The Spiel, Mike unwraps how Obama’s heartfelt eulogy in Charleston was an insight into his political strategy.

Today’s sponsor: Volvo. Have a month’s payment on Volvo and spend your summer doing the things that matter to you. Plus get up to five years full coverage, including wear and tear. Go to

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.
Twitter: @slategist

Mike Pesca is the host of the Slate daily podcast The Gist. He also contributes reports and commentary to NPR.