The Residence/ posted in: Reading The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower
on April 7th 2015
Genres: History, Nonfiction
Source: Book Tour
America's first families are among the most private public figures on earth. From the mystique of the glamorous Kennedys to the tumult that surrounded Bill and Hillary Clinton during the president's impeachment to the historic yet polarizing residency of Barack and Michelle Obama, each new administration brings a unique set of personalities to the White House—and a new set of challenges to the fiercely loyal and hardworking people who serve them: the White House residence staff.No one understands the president of the United States, and his family, like the men and women who make the White House run every day. Now, for the first time, their stories of fifty years, ten administrations, and countless crises, large and small, are told in The Residence. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, maids, chefs, florists, doormen, and other staffers—as well as former first ladies and first family members—Kate Andersen Brower, who covered President Obama's first term, offers a group portrait of the dedicated professionals who orchestrate lavish state dinners; stand ready during meetings with foreign dignitaries; care for the president and first lady's young children; and cater to every need the first couple may have, however sublime or, on occasion, ridiculous.In the voices of the residence workers themselves—sometimes wry, often affectionate, always gracious and proud—here are stories of:
The Kennedys—from intimate glimpses of their marriage to the chaotic days after JFK's assassination
The Johnsons—featuring the bizarre saga of LBJ's obsession with the White House plumbing
The Nixons—including Richard Nixon's unexpected appearance in the White House kitchen the morning he resigned
The Reagans—from a fire that endangered Ronald Reagan late in his second term to Nancy's control of details large and small
The Clintons—whose private battles, marked by shouting matches and flying objects, unsettled residence workers
The Obamas—who danced to Mary J. Blige on their first night in the White House
And just as compelling are the stories of the workers themselves, including Storeroom Manager Bill Hamilton, who served eleven presidents over fifty-five years; Executive Housekeeper Christine Limerick, who married a fellow residence worker; Chief Usher Stephen Rochon, who became the first African American to hold the post; Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, who feuded fiercely with Executive Chef Walter Scheib; and Butler James Ramsey, who made friends with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and whose spirit animated the White House through six administrations before his death in 2014. Working tirelessly to provide impeccable service and earning the trust and undying admiration of each new first family, these extraordinary White House workers served every day in the midst of history—and lived to tell the tales.
The Residence is an interesting look into the life of The White House. It is a subject that has always interested me. I’ve read books about the lives of the First Ladies by Margaret Truman and watched an old mini-series on White House staff. This book only covers the time served by living members of the White House staff.
You get the impression that they are trying not to come right out and say bad things but they let it be known who they liked and who they didn’t.
It is a quick and entertaining read for anyone who likes history. The husband is currently reading and enjoying it and he is planning on passing it on to a friend.