In this New York Times bestseller, the White House chief usher for nearly three decades offers a behind-the-scenes look at America’s first families. J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and coordinated its daily life—at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests—including friends, relatives, and heads of state. J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met,” provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy’s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, Upstairs at the White House is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors.
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In White House Ghosts, veteran Washington reporter Robert Schlesinger opens a fresh and revealing window on the modern presidency from FDR to George W. Bush. This is the first book to examine a crucial and often hidden role played by the men and women who help presidents find the words they hope will define their places in history. Drawing on scores of interviews with White House scribes and on extensive archival research, Schlesinger weaves intimate, amusing, compelling stories that provide surprising insights into the personalities, quirks, egos, ambitions, and humor of these presidents as well as how well or not they understood the bully pulpit. White House Ghosts traces the evolution of the presidential speechwriter's job from Raymond Moley under FDR through such luminaries as Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., under JFK, Jack Valenti and Richard Goodwin under LBJ, William Safire and Pat Buchanan under Nixon, Hendrik Hertzberg and James Fallows under Carter, and Peggy Noonan under Reagan, to the "Troika" of Michael Gerson, John McConnell, and Matthew Scully under George W. Bush. White House Ghosts tells the fascinating inside stories behind some of the most iconic presidential phrases: the first inaugural of FDR ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ") and JFK ("ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country"), Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" and Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speeches, Bill Clinton's ending "the era of big government" State of the Union, and George W. Bush's post-9/11 declaration that "whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done" -- and dozens of other noteworthy speeches. The book also addresses crucial questions surrounding the complex relationship between speechwriter and speechgiver, such as who actually crafted the most memorable phrases, who deserves credit for them, and who has claimed it. Schlesinger tells the story of the modern American presidency through this unique prism -- how our chief executives developed their very different rhetorical styles and how well they grasped the rewards of reaching out to the country. White House Ghosts is dramatic, funny, gripping, surprising, serious -- and always entertaining.
What is it like to be America's First Family? In this wonderfully engaging book, Bonnie Angelo, Time correspondent and acclaimed author of First Mothers, probes two hundred years of American history to tell the story of real life within the White House walls—how presidents, their wives, children, and extended families worked to create a home in an imposing national monument while attempting to keep their private lives from the public domain. First Families chronicles exhilarating moments as well as dark days at the nation's most famous address, with fascinating, behind-the-headline accounts of picture-book weddings, gossipy love affairs, rollicking children, domestic squabbles, and tragic deaths. From activist wives Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton to reluctant occupants Bess Truman and Jacqueline Kennedy, to those such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Dolley Madison, and madcap debutante Alice Roosevelt, who embraced their new address and status, here is an unforgettable human portrait of our First Families and how they coped, stumbled, or thrived in the national spotlight.
'Carefully researched and excellently written . . . a wonderful account of the special relationship between Ireland and the USA.' BERTIE AHERN 'Anybody with an interest in Irish-American politics and personalities will want to read The Green and White House.' DICK SPRING Intimate, complex, long-lasting: the links between Ireland and US presidents extend much further and deeper than JFK. From Andrew Jackson in 1829 to Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and Joe Biden in 2021, Ireland's sway in the White House is hugely significant. Handwritten letters, weatherworn tombstones, shipping records and even an old desk unlock the ancestral secrets of 23 presidents. Spanning the centuries from covered wagons to the American Revolution, the birth of the Irish Republic to JFK's heady glamour, The Green and White House takes in political machinations and the firebrands who pushed for freedom, justice and peace for Ireland. For centuries, Irish emigrants crossed the Atlantic by boat, but an intense diplomatic bromance has seen American commanders-in-chief returning to remote Irish villages via Air Force One and armoured limousines. Incredible stories spring from these presidential visits. High-tech phones are installed in an ancient cemetery while an Aran cardigan is treated like a hostile device. Anti-personnel nets produce a bumper catch of salmon, but a Secret Service gun is lost then found amid a jubilant crowd. Each homecoming - always conducted with a twinkle in the eye - turns local people into international media darlings. But this transatlantic courtship, forged over the unearthed mysteries of sprawling family trees, has secured Ireland an annual invite to the White House - something no other nation can rival. THE GREEN AND WHITE HOUSE takes a wry look at the special relationship one tiny nation shares with the world's greatest superpower.
Winner of the Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award A Good Morning America Book of the Month Selection • A Popsugar Must-Read Book of the Month • A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year “Provocative…. [An] assured, beautifully written book.” —Sarah Lyall, New York Times In this provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown. There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her. Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature. Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger. Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).
In collaboration with the White House Historical Association, National Geographic presents this authoritative overview of America's first home featuring never-before published stories and photographs. Organized by theme, discover what makes the White House tick--from its beginnings to the modern day, from the architecture, to the staff, to the first families. Learn fascinating details of the real-life Downton Abbey staff who run this grand home. Marvel at the elaborate detail that goes into hosting a state dinner. Meet the beloved pets who've inhabited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Read about celebrity visitors, the media, and the security so critical in today's world. Sidebars contain tidbits of rare information, and an appendix includes an illustrated time line of all White House First Families as well as a complete index. Photos include intimate and candid glimpses of life inside the White House--some never before seen, others long forgotten, and most never displayed in such large format.
An intimate, behind-the-scenes history of the White House service staff, from the Kennedys to the present America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family. These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love. Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.