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The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

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A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. 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. A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. 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.


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A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. 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. A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. 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.

30 review for The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Eh. Quick, easy read. Brower did a great job at showing first families as real, genuine people. Also at making one dislike the Clintons...all of them. Having said that the author also manages to annoy beyond belief by constantly (and I mean every-other-paragraph-constantly) reminding the reader of the humble nobility and unassailable righteousness of the WH residence staff. For someone peddling a book whose very selling premise is the "inside scoop" she can't help be keep reminding the reader Eh. Quick, easy read. Brower did a great job at showing first families as real, genuine people. Also at making one dislike the Clintons...all of them. Having said that the author also manages to annoy beyond belief by constantly (and I mean every-other-paragraph-constantly) reminding the reader of the humble nobility and unassailable righteousness of the WH residence staff. For someone peddling a book whose very selling premise is the "inside scoop" she can't help be keep reminding the reader how the residence staff would NEVER provide the inside scoop. EVER!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    My inspiration for this book was no other - than..... our wonderful Michelle Obama ... who might have just written the most popular - well respected - and enjoyed memoir of the year - possibly BEST BOOK of the year!!! This was good - I did the Audiobook/ ebook sync combination ( I’m becoming a fan of this combination).... It’s a different experience to read a book than to listen: both have special aspects for different reasons. I’m sitting by the pool - listening to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough My inspiration for this book was no other - than..... our wonderful Michelle Obama ... who might have just written the most popular - well respected - and enjoyed memoir of the year - possibly BEST BOOK of the year!!! This was good - I did the Audiobook/ ebook sync combination ( I’m becoming a fan of this combination).... It’s a different experience to read a book than to listen: both have special aspects for different reasons. I’m sitting by the pool - listening to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.... ‘Sugar Sugar’ and other oldies that’s playing in the background that has TOTALLY interrupted my REVIEW TRAIN OF THOUGHT.... Heck with it - I’m getting lazy these day’s anyway - I’m on vacation - ( first couple of days here in Mexico were days I HOPE we laugh about one day). — This book gave a great historical view about staff members ( juicy gossip of course - haha) who worked in the most famous house in America. I liked it - 4 strong stars ... but given that Michelle Obama’s stories during her time was A STRONG MELTING MISSING AND LOVING HER 5 stars .... I’ll take this book down a notch. ... but it was good!!! Any review I write for the next couple of weeks - if I do -be kind! Lol I’m sooooo on vacation!!!! I’m reading a bunch of books - tossing as many back as staying with them - crazy reading period! But this was GREAT compared to other books I tossed back!! Hugs love peace happy holidays!!!!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Blake

    This book was an interesting read, but the author hopped all over the place when telling stories so it was hard to follow. A couple of times, I felt I had already read the same "story." Having said that, I enjoyed the stories and learning which first couples were enjoyed by the White House staff and who they didn't particularly care for. This book has peaked my interesting in reading some of the biography books written by past maids, butlers, and ushers!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I recently read JB West's memoir of life as the chief usher in the White House for Presidents FDR - Nixon (briefly). I eagerly picked up The Residence hoping for a continuation of that. In many ways, that is what I got. This is a sort of collective memoir of the domestic staff of the White House for Presidents JFK - Obama. The thing is, though... This book was sort of a mess. I really enjoyed all the accounts of White House life. It was very unique to weave so many stories together. But the I recently read JB West's memoir of life as the chief usher in the White House for Presidents FDR - Nixon (briefly). I eagerly picked up The Residence hoping for a continuation of that. In many ways, that is what I got. This is a sort of collective memoir of the domestic staff of the White House for Presidents JFK - Obama. The thing is, though... This book was sort of a mess. I really enjoyed all the accounts of White House life. It was very unique to weave so many stories together. But the organization was sort of a disaster. Instead of doing a chapter or two per president (which I was expecting), this tried to chronologically through a presidency's various stages. There was a chapter all about the presidents all moving into the White House and the transition periods, but the stories were all mixed together. It went from Obama to Johnson to Clinton, etc. I was hoping for something a bit more cohesive. But still definitely worth a read! Among other things, it give insight into the Lewinski scandal, JFK's funeral, Nixon's resignation, and 9/11. Definitely check this out if you're interested in American history, or the various presidents.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hana

    This was on my library's featured new books shelf so I picked it up on a whim. Rather to my surprise I polished it off in an evening and really enjoyed it. It's all about life in the White House as seen through the eyes of the incredibly dedicated, hard-working staff who make the beds, dust the thousands of museum pieces, pack the immaculately laundered shirts, lay out the suits, fix and serve the meals (from state dinners to chili at 2 AM) and cater to the whims of Presidents, First Ladies and This was on my library's featured new books shelf so I picked it up on a whim. Rather to my surprise I polished it off in an evening and really enjoyed it. It's all about life in the White House as seen through the eyes of the incredibly dedicated, hard-working staff who make the beds, dust the thousands of museum pieces, pack the immaculately laundered shirts, lay out the suits, fix and serve the meals (from state dinners to chili at 2 AM) and cater to the whims of Presidents, First Ladies and their families. Brower is a veteran Washington reporter who first became aware of the staff's largely invisible inner world when she was invited to a luncheon in the intimate Old Family Dining Room. The elegantly dressed butlers with gleaming silver trays struck her as so very Downton Abbey. Every U.S. President discovers on moving in (promptly at 12 Noon on Inauguration Day) that they are going to be living in a world of unbelievable privilege but almost no privacy. And saying no to the valets is simply not an option. I have often wondered what it is about Washington that turns peoples' heads. This book goes a long way towards explaining the total weirdness, the disconnect that seems to afflict everyone who takes office. Personally, I think we should follow the lead of the 10th century Heian Japanese and periodically move the seat of government to a totally new site to prevent contamination by evil spirits. For the new capitol of the United States I'd vote for someplace bracing in the middle of the country--South Dakota perhaps. And while we're at it we should make Presidents fix their own dinners and iron their own shirts. Content rating PG. It's less gossipy than I expected but there are some brief but lurid details about President Johnson's shower, President Kennedy and the swimming pool parties, and a few other fairly familiar insider scandals.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This review seems to upset the Karen's lol!!!!! This is an interesting if partisan and biased look at the White House staff that served presidents Kennedy to Obama. The Clintons are hit the hardest in this, though the author makes an effort to show all Democratic presidents as difficult or reserved. Most praised are The Bushes, both sets. The author is now a vapid talking empty-head on Fox. This book is reflective of that alternative facts nonsense. Example: there was no formal staff assigned to the This review seems to upset the Karen's lol!!!!! This is an interesting if partisan and biased look at the White House staff that served presidents Kennedy to Obama. The Clintons are hit the hardest in this, though the author makes an effort to show all Democratic presidents as difficult or reserved. Most praised are The Bushes, both sets. The author is now a vapid talking empty-head on Fox. This book is reflective of that alternative facts nonsense. Example: there was no formal staff assigned to the white house because of slavery. Most presidents prior to the civil war were southern slave owners. So there really wasn't a need for regular staff attached to the white house. Post the civil war regular staff positions become a thing. Of course the author doesn't want to clearly state these facts so she goes all around them and separates the sections out so she doesn't have to explicitly acknowledge this fact. Sigh. Glad I did not pay to read this trash.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    There are so many fascinating and wonderful stories in this book. I have been worrying my brain over which ones to tell.This book is about the people who lived and worked in the White House from the Kennedy's to the Obama's. It's not a gossipy tell all about the first families although there are some very riveting tales about certain Presidents and First Ladies. It's mostly about the members of the staff and their utter devotion to their work. A devotion that left many in the staff divorced. The There are so many fascinating and wonderful stories in this book. I have been worrying my brain over which ones to tell.This book is about the people who lived and worked in the White House from the Kennedy's to the Obama's. It's not a gossipy tell all about the first families although there are some very riveting tales about certain Presidents and First Ladies. It's mostly about the members of the staff and their utter devotion to their work. A devotion that left many in the staff divorced. The White House came first in their lives and many wives and children had to take a back seat to their family member's job. Some staff members would just arrive home and have to turn around and come back to work because of some need with the First Family. I love Barbara Bush's description of the White House as an " 18 star hotel". Both Bush families, along with the Kennedy's receive kudos from the staff. Their caring attitude toward the staff members left warm and loving memories. What was remembered was that members of the Bush family treated the staff as people they were interested in and cared about. Of course this attitude made staff members very devoted and happy to serve. Lyndon Johnson, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton were difficult in the extreme and caused the staff great stress. The staff worked hard to provide the best service for both the easy and the hard to please members of the First Families. The Hope and Tragedy chapter gave insight into what the staff was feeling during the days after the assassination and also 911. I highly recommend this book to everyone!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mahlon

    At first this book appears to be nothing more than what you could get on an hour long PBS special, but after a slow start it does begin to reveal several interesting tidbits about both the first families and what working in the White House is really like. I gathered that there is usually a strict code of silence between the White House staff and the outside world, which often persists until long after they retire. They talk to almost no one, but many of them spoke to this author, that alone At first this book appears to be nothing more than what you could get on an hour long PBS special, but after a slow start it does begin to reveal several interesting tidbits about both the first families and what working in the White House is really like. I gathered that there is usually a strict code of silence between the White House staff and the outside world, which often persists until long after they retire. They talk to almost no one, but many of them spoke to this author, that alone makes this book worth reading. A much needed addition to the very few books on the White House itself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Sciuto

    Kate Andersen Brower weaves an almost seamless, intimate narrative that takes the reader through a tour of First Families living in the White House over the last 80 years, as told through the eyes of the domestic staff (Butlers, Maids, Doormen, Painters, Chefs, electricians, florists etc., that work at the White House). The domestic staff, unlike the President and his political aides and family, do not leave their jobs at the White House when a new President moves in... Much of the domestic staff Kate Andersen Brower weaves an almost seamless, intimate narrative that takes the reader through a tour of First Families living in the White House over the last 80 years, as told through the eyes of the domestic staff (Butlers, Maids, Doormen, Painters, Chefs, electricians, florists etc., that work at the White House). The domestic staff, unlike the President and his political aides and family, do not leave their jobs at the White House when a new President moves in... Much of the domestic staff has worked at the White House, and for as many as six First Families, as long as 30 to 40 years until they retire and most of the staff is comprised of African Americans. They have been witness to countless Presidents and their families, as one might say, with their make-up off and cameras out of view. They live by a code, almost Mafia like, "Of see, but never tell" while working in the world's most famous house. The interviews that were given, that make up most of this wonderful book, were given almost entirely by retired staff, relatives of retired staff that have passed away, and the First families themselves. The staff were witness to First Families during difficult, personal times like President Clinton's affair with a 22 year old and through tragic times like the assassination of President Kennedy. They were often the consolers and therapist to Mrs. Kennedy, and First Lady Hillary Clinton. They adored President George Herbert Bush and his wife Barbara, and to little lesser extent President George W. Bush and his family. President Kennedy and his family were a joy, especially with their two young children, and Nancy Reagan could be difficult, President Johnson quite disgusting, and President Reagan quite friendly and always telling stories. "The Residence" by a less capable author could easily have turned into a piece of tabloid journalism, but in the hands of Mrs. Brower it turns into a powerful and beautiful piece of history that sheds light on many unsung heroes. Strongly recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    I am an avid consumer of politics and information about our 44 presidents. When I discovered this book written by Kate Andersen Brower, I knew it would be a fascinating read. Ms. Brower gathered material for this book by combing the archives and by interviewing scores of White House staff members. The anecdotes revealed through these interviews were funny and poignant and even sad; and I realized that the stories Ms. Brower obtained were no small feat as it became clear that the most cherished I am an avid consumer of politics and information about our 44 presidents. When I discovered this book written by Kate Andersen Brower, I knew it would be a fascinating read. Ms. Brower gathered material for this book by combing the archives and by interviewing scores of White House staff members. The anecdotes revealed through these interviews were funny and poignant and even sad; and I realized that the stories Ms. Brower obtained were no small feat as it became clear that the most cherished and mandatory characteristic of all who labor in the White House is loyalty…. loyalty to their jobs and most of all, loyalty to the traditions of that institution we treasure.. the White House. This book is crammed with facts about the White House… the physical structure itself.. and the inner workings and glimpses of the presidents and families who have inhabited it… Presidents from John F. Kennedy to Richard Nixon; from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush; from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. For example, did you know that the First Family can make any changes they wish to the 2nd and third floors of the White House? And did you know that the White House contains 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, 3 elevators and 8 staircases? There are plenty of facts just like these that are scattered throughout the book. To me, the best parts of the book were the observations and memories recalled by staffers about individual presidents. Although all staffers who granted interviews stressed the importance of their loyalty, ability to guard secrets and discretion, they WERE able to share some moving moments…. a memory of a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy with her children back at the White House after President Kennedy's assassination; the anxiety and sadness surrounding President Richard Nixon on the eve of his resignation from office; and the tension, fear, and temporary chaos immediately following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. These are just a few of the memories shared , and the parts of the book I enjoyed most. The anecdotes were not shared in a gossipy way which often characterizes these types of books but rather in a respectful way… demonstrating the unique position White House staffers hold as first hand observers of history being made. A hallmark of democracy in the United States is the public and peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration Day, from an outgoing administration to an incoming one. This book clearly demonstrates just how crucial the entire White House staff is to this process.. and these many men and women take their jobs very seriously. As former First Lady Laura Bush said….. Inauguration Day is a "choreographic masterpiece done with exceptional speed." These men and women are aware each day that their discretion is paramount to the President and his family's security. They also know that should they be indiscreet with reporters or anyone else, living in the White House would become unbearable. The anecdotes shared in this book were in no way indiscreet.. what they were were snapshots of moments in history that were fascinating to read. If this subject interests you, I encourage you to check it out!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Very appropriate to finish this book on the eve of a significant transition of new leadership. Shall I put the words "new leadership" in quotations? Perhaps. I cried at the beginning of this book for how much the first families and staff respected the White House, and cried at the end of this book for what might be lost these next four years. So much detail. So much respect for the House, the leadership, the office and the first families. A fascinating perspective, as told by the many employees Very appropriate to finish this book on the eve of a significant transition of new leadership. Shall I put the words "new leadership" in quotations? Perhaps. I cried at the beginning of this book for how much the first families and staff respected the White House, and cried at the end of this book for what might be lost these next four years. So much detail. So much respect for the House, the leadership, the office and the first families. A fascinating perspective, as told by the many employees who run the show and keep the many, many traditions alive. I recommend!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    Entertaining indeed, this was an intriguing peek at goings on in the White House over several recent administrations. As the author successfully interviewed numerous staff members, she was able to provide a surprisingly human perspective on many towering familiar public figures. Although the workers behind the scenes are fiercely discrete (and must be by nature), bits were divulged, sometimes years later, which are very telling. Particularly fascinating to me was what was related with regard to Entertaining indeed, this was an intriguing peek at goings on in the White House over several recent administrations. As the author successfully interviewed numerous staff members, she was able to provide a surprisingly human perspective on many towering familiar public figures. Although the workers behind the scenes are fiercely discrete (and must be by nature), bits were divulged, sometimes years later, which are very telling. Particularly fascinating to me was what was related with regard to various first couples' interactions with the staff. There was quite a mix of approaches! Never before had I reflected on the role of African Americans in the history of the White House and the Capitol. These were largely built by slave labor, and all Southern presidents prior to the Civil War brought their own slaves with them upon assuming office. In those days each president was expected to personally pay for the help needed to run the White House. The pride and deep loyalty of the staff, together with eccentricities, tempers, surprisingly human moments, the darkness surrounding the Kennedy assassination as well as some humorous episodes - all combine to make The Residence a highly readable, at times titillating, Upstairs Downstairs! Close to four stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very, very interesting and informative. Enjoyed the insight into how the Presidents and first families treated, and interacted with the White House staff, and how staff felt about them, and why they felt the way they did. It is amazing what all is required from staff, and the hours they put in. They are not paid even close to what they deserve to be paid. I was also surprised to learn that the First Family pays for all their groceries out of their own money, except Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very, very interesting and informative. Enjoyed the insight into how the Presidents and first families treated, and interacted with the White House staff, and how staff felt about them, and why they felt the way they did. It is amazing what all is required from staff, and the hours they put in. They are not paid even close to what they deserve to be paid. I was also surprised to learn that the First Family pays for all their groceries out of their own money, except for official business, and all personal care items, but also saw incredible waste, such as the asinine placing of fresh flowers in all 132 rooms even though most are not even scheduled to have visitors! Why are there 132 rooms in the first place? The American people have only ourselves to blame for allowing such wasteful spending, and allowing the families to remodel/redecorate without any say so from us, and no accountability! This one makes it onto my Favorite shelf! Highly recommended for history lovers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    2.5 stars, a mildly interesting book about the staff who manage the White House. There are almost 100 full-time employees, plus lots more part-time staff: cooks, florists, butlers, maids, plumbers, secretaries, etc. The author jumps around between presidencies, offering stories about the relationship between the First Families and the residence staff, from the Kennedys through the Obamas. The current and former employees were reluctant to share negative impressions (not wanting to imperil their 2.5 stars, a mildly interesting book about the staff who manage the White House. There are almost 100 full-time employees, plus lots more part-time staff: cooks, florists, butlers, maids, plumbers, secretaries, etc. The author jumps around between presidencies, offering stories about the relationship between the First Families and the residence staff, from the Kennedys through the Obamas. The current and former employees were reluctant to share negative impressions (not wanting to imperil their jobs or their pensions) but the author dredges up a few unflattering anecdotes about Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton: Reagan’s quirks are mostly excused as an attempt to shield her husband, while Clinton’s are mostly excused because of the stress of the Lewinsky scandal. Apparently President Johnson was extraordinarily difficult, and had bizarre requirements for his bathroom shower. Everyone claims to have liked the Kennedys and the Bushes. I didn’t really detect a bias towards either political party. According to this book, the staff bends over backwards to satisfy every little whim of the First Family. If they want to throw a party at the last minute, or rearrange the furniture at midnight, or if their bathroom plumbing doesn’t meet some ridiculous standard, then the staff is at their beck and call, 24-hours a day, dedicated to solving each “problem”. I was struck by what seems like unnecessary obsequiousness (a plumber had a nervous breakdown because he couldn’t make Johnson happy with his shower?) but perhaps it’s reasonable if you think of the Family as being virtually imprisoned, and the staff as doing everything in their power to make their captivity less onerous. This is a nice read for some details of life at the White House (for instance, the residence transitions at noon on Inauguration Day, when the previous Family must be out, and at their own expense) but the book is scattered and entirely anecdotal, so don’t expect an accurate or balanced portrait of any particular political figure. The author makes an effort to skew toward the positive for everyone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    This was a Book Club Selection for April at my local library. I put off reading it until the last minute mainly because I thought it would be dry. It was not. The first thing I'd say is that it is a very readable book. Very easy to read and I love that Ms. Brower didn't offer her own opinions or try to speak for the men and women she interviewed. Even after having been to the White House and been on the tour, I had no idea what goes into running such a huge house, and I also had no idea exactly This was a Book Club Selection for April at my local library. I put off reading it until the last minute mainly because I thought it would be dry. It was not. The first thing I'd say is that it is a very readable book. Very easy to read and I love that Ms. Brower didn't offer her own opinions or try to speak for the men and women she interviewed. Even after having been to the White House and been on the tour, I had no idea what goes into running such a huge house, and I also had no idea exactly how big it is. Way over the three stories I had thought! We hear what working at the house means through the memories of the maids, butlers, chefs, florists, doormen, plumbers, secretaries who have worked there through multiple administrations. They are the house. The first families are really just renters for however long they are there. I'm not sure I could work in such a place where every four to eight years, on a day's notice, you had a new family living with you and you had no idea what they were like and you couldn't really grieve the loss of the outgoing family. If you want to know what some of our first families are really like in private you must read this book. However I found the memories of all those who have served generation after generation to be much more compelling. The pride in what they do. The professionalism they maintain day after day. It is definitely a juggling act! The poignant moments when Mrs. Kennedy returned from Dallas with her blood stained pink suit, that was a truly tender moment that spoke volumes about the characters of the staff and of Mrs. Kennedy. It was not shocking to me that some of the First Ladies weren't as nice as they appeared. I think you should all read this book! I actually read it out loud to my friend as I kept saying, " Oh, my, listen to this!" He finally said, just read it to me. Great job Ms.Brower! And great job to those men and women who keep out White House running so flawlessly!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    I wish I could've given this book more than 5 stars if it was possible, this book deserves 10 stars, or more!! My Mom read this book last year, checking it out from the library, she thought it sounded good, and she couldn't stop raving about it, she kept telling me I had to read it, so I asked for it for my birthday, and I finally got to reading it myself! It's a wonderful behind-the-scenes tour of our Nation's Capitol and the residents that occupy it, and the way it's described, it almost makes I wish I could've given this book more than 5 stars if it was possible, this book deserves 10 stars, or more!! My Mom read this book last year, checking it out from the library, she thought it sounded good, and she couldn't stop raving about it, she kept telling me I had to read it, so I asked for it for my birthday, and I finally got to reading it myself! It's a wonderful behind-the-scenes tour of our Nation's Capitol and the residents that occupy it, and the way it's described, it almost makes you feel like you're really there! Kate Andersen Brower really reaches out to the people who have occupied the White House going back many years, residents who have served with many of the Presidents, the Obamas, the Bushes, Clintons, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, and even Eisenhower! We are told stories from many of the Resident's POV, both funny and sad. Times when I was laughing out loud and others when I teared up a bit. Some comical events such as these, when Lyndon Johnson was in office, he had an obsession with a shower he wanted installed in the White House matching the one in his private Washington Residence, the shower would hit every part of his body, the writer describing the water pressure like red hot needles all over your body. JFK swimming nude in the White House pool with his White House Secretaries while Jackie wasn't around, and he would have the windows frosted so no one from inside saw. And while Ronald Reagan was in Office one of the maids walked in to the Presidential Suite, not thinking anyone was in there, she walks in and there's Reagan in bed with his robe open, and Nancy would get so mad at him. We also get an insight of the Lewinsky Scandal while Clinton was in office, and Hilary threw a book at his head, and Bill would keep saying he fell. They also touch on the JFK Assassination and how it hit hard all the staffers, and where everybody was on 9/11, when Laura Bush was planning a White House Luncheon while President Bush was visiting students at an Elementary School in Florida. It felt very surreal while reading, it almost made you feel like you were one of the ones there. I could go on forever, but I'll never be able to stop. I'll just end by saying this was a wonderful insight to our Nation's Capital, and tells me that people just like the rest of us run the White House, without the Staffers the White House would be uninhabitable! I think this is a book everyone should read, it's a small easy, fun historical read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim Miller-Davis

    I rarely buy books when they are first released (mainly because, with my book addiction, I would be broke!), but as soon as I read about this one in the Washington Post, I knew I had to read it immediately. I am fascinated by stories about the inner workings of all aspects of the government, and this one seemed like it would provide a fresh perspective. Moreover, it promised to deliver inside stories about how the White House functions on a daily basis. As someone who grew up in the Northern I rarely buy books when they are first released (mainly because, with my book addiction, I would be broke!), but as soon as I read about this one in the Washington Post, I knew I had to read it immediately. I am fascinated by stories about the inner workings of all aspects of the government, and this one seemed like it would provide a fresh perspective. Moreover, it promised to deliver inside stories about how the White House functions on a daily basis. As someone who grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs, and a true lover of all things DC, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. And it didn't disappoint. Every single moment was delicious. In fact, I savored it so much that I would stop and read passages to my kids and to my husband, especially those that related some heartwarming or interesting story about the presidential families. Other times I would stop reading so that I could teach my sons something that I was learning about White House protocol. Since I don't usually talk about what I'm reading right in the middle of it, I am thinking that I did it this time just so I could prolong the experience; I really did not want the book to end. I am a little irritated with the publicity surrounding this book that suggests that there are tons of salacious stories (like those about Hillary throwing items at Bill during raucous arguments) because that simply isn't an accurate portrayal of Brower's work. Although the staff members' anecdotes do reveal a few eyebrow-raising tidbits, most of the stories simply provide insight into the interactions between the staff and the presidents they served. If nothing else, almost all of the presidents and their families seem more human and more likeable. (Only one of the first ladies does not come across very well, but her controlling antics have been well-documented in other histories. And, unlike most of those previous works, Brower includes positive staff anecdotes about said first lady, as well.) I can't think of any other modern work that provides such interesting inside information about late-20th century White House's inhabitants and workers. Definitely recommended for all politicos and history buffs.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Books

    I’m not an American, but I couldn’t wait to read this book. I mean, who wouldn’t be curious about what happens inside the White House. Honestly, I never gave a second thought to the going ons of this residence, but when the opportunity presented itself to get a glimpse into the private lives of the first families who have lived there, I just couldn’t resist. I had no expectations of this book, because I didn’t know what to expect. I was intrigued from the start and every time I put it down, I I’m not an American, but I couldn’t wait to read this book. I mean, who wouldn’t be curious about what happens inside the White House. Honestly, I never gave a second thought to the going ons of this residence, but when the opportunity presented itself to get a glimpse into the private lives of the first families who have lived there, I just couldn’t resist. I had no expectations of this book, because I didn’t know what to expect. I was intrigued from the start and every time I put it down, I couldn’t wait to dive back in. I was amazed at the loyalty, respect, and utmost dedication with which the ushers, butlers, maids, and others, through generations, have (and still do) served the first families. As one former first daughter put it: the people serving in this residence are the world’s greatest con artists, as they make each first family feel like they love them best. Most of these staff members dedicate their lives to working in this house to such an extent they oftentimes sacrifice their marriages and time with their children to serve the president and his family with such utter devotion. It’s just incredible. I’ve learned so many things I never would’ve imagined going on behind those walls, I am in awe. Overall, this was a surprisingly good read. If you’re looking for dirt and spilled secrets about the first families who’ve lived in, and are currently living in the White House, you won’t find it in here. Ms Brower gives the reader a well-balanced, objective peak into the daily routine of the most respected household in the world, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at some monumental events in history and how it affected the staff working in the White House. This is most certainly a book you’d want on your to-read list.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mayda

    It is evident from the very beginning that much research went into the writing of this book. Filled with the personal stories of the everyday people who carried on with the most mundane tasks that kept the White House running smoothly, it gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a place most of us will never see. Chefs, maids, ushers, florists, and more share their feelings of what it was like to work for the most important families of the land. While protecting the privacy of the inhabitants, these It is evident from the very beginning that much research went into the writing of this book. Filled with the personal stories of the everyday people who carried on with the most mundane tasks that kept the White House running smoothly, it gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a place most of us will never see. Chefs, maids, ushers, florists, and more share their feelings of what it was like to work for the most important families of the land. While protecting the privacy of the inhabitants, these retired service people at last share their feelings of what it was like for them at their jobs. Each tells about a slice of history – from the assassination of President Kennedy to the destruction of the World Trade Center and more – and author Kate Andersen Brower relates these tales with fascinating accuracy and engaging appeal.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    What a fun, fun, FUN book! I love everything relating to politics and presidents and DC and this was like listening to two people gossip, snippets here and there about different things they'd heard about different people and events in the White House. I know it wasn't put together that well, it jumped around a ton, flitted back and forth between presidents and time frames and it was hard to keep track. Still really fun though, and a five star for me just because it's what I love.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    An enjoyable book about the White House residence staff. There are many fascinating anecdotes, but don't expect a Kitty Kelley like expose. Although some of the stories shared were not all favorable, we do get a fairly balanced view of the famous temporary occupants of the White House. Despite their quirks and gaffes, Presidents and their families were human. Wouldn't want to have worked for Nancy Reagan, though. Yeesh!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karla Hanna

    I would overall rate this book 4.5 stars. I got this as an audiobook and loved hearing the story. I do wish that it wasn't all over the place. But I imagine this was done in a way that the many men and women told their story in that particular chapters category.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mona

    I shouldn't. This book is essentialy editing free. It feels like compilation of random author's notes squzzed into the book. There is no clear plot, no chronological or thematic organization of any kind eventhough book has chapters. Lots of repetitions and page fillers. It feels like author tries to put patriotic twist on everything, even the pair of socks. This supposed to be compliation of interviews with retired White House supportive staff members, however if one would gather their actual I shouldn't. This book is essentialy editing free. It feels like compilation of random author's notes squzzed into the book. There is no clear plot, no chronological or thematic organization of any kind eventhough book has chapters. Lots of repetitions and page fillers. It feels like author tries to put patriotic twist on everything, even the pair of socks.  This supposed to be compliation of interviews with retired White House supportive staff members, however if one would  gather their actual quotes, it would not that much they actually said. There's instead omnipotent author's presence throughout.  I didn't find anything particularly interesting or politically incorrect in here. Everything feels so safe....calculated and fake.  For positives - there was very little information about history of the White House but certainly not enough to pull it off. I found this book to be very boring.  Washington Post called it "Absolutely delicious". Well, certainly we have a different taste.  Or it was some neighbors courtesy talking.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Enjoyable read. I googled the presidents and first ladies a lot during reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suanne Laqueur

    I grew up watching the TV series “Backstairs at the White House” so this was totally my jam. If it’s yours, you’ll love it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    This book is basically a homage to the working people who staff the White House: the plumbers, butlers, electrians, housekeepers, the guy who keeps track of the dishes, and many more. They were and are almost all totally dedicated to the people they serve and anyone who is a guest in the White House. They do not become wealthy serving in the White House, many work part time and have other full time jobs. The value of the book is its focus on these people and what it takes to keep the White House This book is basically a homage to the working people who staff the White House: the plumbers, butlers, electrians, housekeepers, the guy who keeps track of the dishes, and many more. They were and are almost all totally dedicated to the people they serve and anyone who is a guest in the White House. They do not become wealthy serving in the White House, many work part time and have other full time jobs. The value of the book is its focus on these people and what it takes to keep the White House running. The book provides more than enough salacious details to make the "E" channel and television pundits happy. The book is not a difficult read. It moves fast and it keeps the reader entertained. You don't have to be particularly perceptive to be able to keep track of which Presidents and which spouses were loved by the White House working staff. The same is true when it comes to identifying which Presidents and which spouses made the working staff's jobs and lives much more difficult than they needed to be. If you want the dirt read the book. There are no big surprises, well, okay I was a bit surprised by one or two things. At the same time, it is worth noting that the book shows how deep the friendships between some of the temporary occupants of the White House and the working staff were. The description of the relationship between Jackie Kennedy and Chief Usher J B. West may be among the most poignant in the book. This dialogue takes place as arrangements for JFK's funeral are being made: "She (Jackie) walked the short distance to the Cabinet Room and sat at the imposing mahogany table. “My children. They’re good children, aren’t they, Mr. West?” she asked the chief usher, who had become a friend. “They certainly are.” “They’re not spoiled?” “No, indeed.” “Mr. West, will you be my friend for life?” the first lady, who had seemed to have it all just a day earlier, pleaded. He was too upset to speak. He could only nod. The Sunday after the assassination, the flag- draped coffin was carried on a horse- drawn caisson, the same one that had carried the bodies of Lincoln, FDR, and the Unknown Soldier, to the Capitol Rotunda where it laid in state for twenty- one hours...."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Most of these staff members dedicate their lives to working in this house to such an extent they oftentimes sacrifice their marriages and time with their children to serve the president and his family with such utter devotion. It’s just incredible. I’ve learned so many things I never would’ve imagined going on behind those walls. Overall, this was a surprisingly good read. If you’re looking for dirt and spilled secrets about the first families who’ve lived in, and are currently living in the Most of these staff members dedicate their lives to working in this house to such an extent they oftentimes sacrifice their marriages and time with their children to serve the president and his family with such utter devotion. It’s just incredible. I’ve learned so many things I never would’ve imagined going on behind those walls. Overall, this was a surprisingly good read. If you’re looking for dirt and spilled secrets about the first families who’ve lived in, and are currently living in the White House, you won’t find it in here. Surprisingly, the staff members of the White House mainly keep the gossip to themselves. I was especially impressed with how (on inaugeration day) one family can be moved out and another family moved in in just a few hours with little fanfare. In addition the book also reveals the pressure placed on the staff to serve the President and their families whether they are democrats or republicans. Regardless of what party they support the staff serves the first families of both parties with professionalism and the highest degree of respect. The book reveals the dedication of the staff, their commitment to excellence and their ability to respect their privacy. I fell in love with the staff....

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book was fascinating for two reasons: White House gossip, obviously, and the view of race and class in domestic service that emerges from this group portrait of the people involved over several decades. I was glad that the author clearly set out to give voice to the staff, and to present such a respectful and admiring look at their work, which is deliberately intended to be invisible to the public. It was also fun to read what they had to say about their employers -- staff are paid by the This book was fascinating for two reasons: White House gossip, obviously, and the view of race and class in domestic service that emerges from this group portrait of the people involved over several decades. I was glad that the author clearly set out to give voice to the staff, and to present such a respectful and admiring look at their work, which is deliberately intended to be invisible to the public. It was also fun to read what they had to say about their employers -- staff are paid by the First family, not by the taxpayers; I didn't know that, did you? -- and then read what the members of the First families have to say about them. The author wisely chose to arrange the book thematically, so you don't just plod from one administration to the next, but I must admit all the hopping around in time did get to me sometimes. There are some great stories, some funny, some sad, shocking, heart-warming, etc. But mostly I came away impressed by the incredibly dedicated and very hard-working people who make so many sacrifices on behalf of the presidential families.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I won this book from Goodreads First Reads. A look inside the most famous residence of the U.S. from the staff. There are stories covering everything from the Kennedys to the Obamas. Anything from the major events in history to the personalities of the staff and first families. I found a lot of the stories quite fascinating and often funny. It does bounce around quite a bit and would have perhaps been easier to understand had it been broken up by presidents or followed a timeline of some sort I won this book from Goodreads First Reads. A look inside the most famous residence of the U.S. from the staff. There are stories covering everything from the Kennedys to the Obamas. Anything from the major events in history to the personalities of the staff and first families. I found a lot of the stories quite fascinating and often funny. It does bounce around quite a bit and would have perhaps been easier to understand had it been broken up by presidents or followed a timeline of some sort though. Otherwise a good read for anyone wanting a closer look into the White House.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Rommelfanger

    I found this book really interesting. I especially liked when the personal stories would tie into huge historical events; Iran hostage crisis, Kennedy assassination, and 9/11.

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