The Residence; Inside the Private World of the White House

by on July 27th, 2015
The Residence; Inside the Private World of the White House Cover Image

Kate Anderson Brower spent four years covering the Obama White House for Bloomberg News and is a former CBS News staff member and Fox News producer.  In her well-researched book of stories, conversations, and secrets about the presidents and their families from Kennedy through Obama, I found details shared by the people who keep the White House running smoothly a fascinating look behind the scenes of the famous people who have lived there.  Though I rarely read the gossip magazines unless I’m waiting in a doctor’s office, I did feel like the gossip shared in Brower’s book was an interesting and intimate look at White House occupants in my lifetime.  I’m old enough to remember exactly where I was when I learned the news that John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.  The author shares details of Kennedy’s philandering and Jackie’s chain smoking, of their closeness in the loss of a son, Patrick, and the directions for JFK’s funeral that Jackie gave so stoically.  Brower describes the work the White House staff do to ready the residence for the next family to move in with less than a day to do so.  LBJ comes across as the bawdy, loud bully married to Lady Bird who acquiesced to his every mood.  His angry criticisms of his bathroom shower and the fun his daughters and other president’s children had in the White House entertaining their friends are all fair game for the author’s reporting.  Covering the resignation of Richard Nixon and his stiff and formal presence in the residence, we learn about a few of his more private thoughts and conversations with staff.  I chuckled when the Fords made it clear that they didn’t want separate bedrooms. Clearly Ronald Reagan is portrayed as a friendly gold ol’ boy but Nancy is shown to be a rigid perfectionist and a very difficult person to work for who dominated her husband. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the affable George Bush and wife, Barbara, who was completely down to earth and popular with the staff. The author shared stories about the Clintons including Bill’s fall from grace and Hillary’s reaction in the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky affair.  Shouting matches and things being thrown unsettled the residence staff.  All the workers commented about what a sweet girl Chelsea was how carefully the Clintons protected her from the press. George W. Bush is discussed in light of 9/11 and learning about how Laura Bush spent the hours after the attack was surprising.  Finally, Barack Obama and Michelle are giving their space in the book in mostly flattering stories.  Michelle’s insistence about their daughters not being spoiled and having a relatively ‘normal’ life while living in the White House is shared.  So are the lavish state dinners for foreign dignitaries described and feuds between the chefs are mentioned. Found on the New Non-Fiction Book shelf, The Residence; Inside the Private World of the White House was a quirky and interesting summer read.

Leave a Reply

Previous Post

Next Post