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The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Scritto da Kate Andersen Brower

Narrato da Karen White


The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Scritto da Kate Andersen Brower

Narrato da Karen White

valutazioni:
4/5 (37 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
10 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 7, 2015
ISBN:
9780062373892
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

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.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 7, 2015
ISBN:
9780062373892
Formato:
Audiolibro

Disponibile anche come...

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Informazioni sull'autore

Kate Andersen Brower is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Residence, First Women—also a New York Times bestseller—and First in Line. She is a CNN contributor who covered the Obama White House for Bloomberg News and is a former CBS News staffer and Fox News producer. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post. She lives outside Washington, D.C., with her husband and their three young children.

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  • (4/5)
    5629. The Residence Inside the Private World of The White House, by Kate Andersen Brower (read 21 May 2019) This is 2015 book so it does not tell a thing about today's White House and has maybe been superseded by Bob Woodward's bool Fear: Trump in the White House, which I read 17 Nov 2018. But this book, The Residence, tells about the help who work at the White House,doing the things which enable the president and his family to concentrate on doing what he was elected to do and to enable his family endure or enjoy their time there. It tells some of the facts re FDR but more about later presidents and their families. It kind of seems to jump around and I wondered whether it might not have been better if it had been more chronological. It facially stresses how loyal and reticent the employees who work in the White House are, tight-lipped and loyal to the family living in the residence. But there is still a lot of behind the scenes information and judgments that come out. Some of the staff intensely disliked Nancy Reagan and there are accounts critical of Hillary. But usually derogatory comments are balanced by kind comments. The most kindly comments were for George H.W. Bush. The accounts relating tot JFK's assassination and of the events on Sept 11 are of high interest. There is much of human interest in the book though I suppose it not full of lasting importance
  • (5/5)
    This is one of those reads that was so much exactly what I wanted to read when I picked it up, that I almost feel biased reviewing it. I've been loving good narrative nonfiction lately and this was some awesome narrative nonfiction. The author did an amazing job telling a stories that brought the staff to life and gave fascinating insights into the lives of the presidents and families they served. She integrated quotes into the story so they flowed well. I also particularly appreciated that she often shared quotes from people who had opposite perspectives. When an author does this, it makes them feel more trustworthy. I believe this author gave us a story largely unbiased by her own opinions.

    Although White House staff are generally discrete, the author learned some very juicy details. These bits definitely held my interest, but what truly made this book difficult to put down was the author's ability to bring to life more quotidian events and her organization of the book, putting the presidents' daily lives into a larger context. I love when nonfiction that focuses on a small topic uses it to teach me about historical context as well. I also love nonfiction that I think could bring in readers who don't usually pick up nonfiction because it relates to another genre or interest. With this one, it is created for Downton Abbey fans. There are intrigues above and below stairs, widely varying interactions between different staff members and different presidents, and crazy amounts of pampering for the first families. So, in addition to recommending this to other lovers of narrative nonfiction on any topic, I'd highly recommend this to fans of the show.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey.
  • (5/5)
    Kate Andersen Brower was once the White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. While there she got invited to a luncheon of First Lady Michelle Obama's and noticed the butlers quietly moving about in the background and became interested in them and them and in the rest of the staff. Getting former staff to talk to her (she only got one current member of the White House residence staff to talk to her) proved to be a difficult task. They were fiercely loyal even after all these years. Some refused to say a bad word about any of the first families no matter what. But Brower would get them to open up and once they found out that others were talking it made it easier for them to talk.The resident staff is the utmost in efficiency. This is most evident when moving one president out and one president in. The outgoing president has the House until noon on Inauguration Day and the new president will be back at the House at around five o'clock. In this amount of time, they will have moved out the old president and arranged everything of the new president's according to the president decorator if he has one and overseen by the social secretary. The Obamas would be the first to hire a man for the position of social secretary in 2011. Other firsts include the first African-American Chief Usher which went to former Coast Guard Admiral Stephen Rochon in 2007. In 2011, the position became another milestone when the first woman and second African-American held it. The Chief Usher oversees all of the over 90 executive resident staff. Each office has its own head, such as Head of Housekeeping, Maitre D' who is the Head Butler, Head Florist, Head Chef, plumber, electrician, painter, etc... You don't apply to get a job at the White House. You get recommended by someone who works there. There are generations of families who have worked there. The staff lives to serve and become exacerbated when the First Families won't let them. However, they understand and enjoyed when Chelsea wanted to learn how to clean and cook on her own and looked to them to teach her. First Lady Michelle Obama insisted that Malia and Sasha make their own beds and do their own laundry and her mother wouldn't let them anywhere near her unmentionables so she did her own laundry too. Basically, the George H.W. Bushs were looked upon the most favorably. They seemed to truly care about the staff as people--asking about their personal lives and insisting they go home at an early hour so they could spend time with their families. Nancy Reagan made the Head of Housekeeping quit for a while because she couldn't handle her angry tirades and her strict perfectionism and nearly impossible requests. The Clintons drove the Curator nuts because they kept moving furniture around and it has to be recorded at all times. There were also some heavy fighting where there was blood on the sheets in the morning from when Hillary had clocked Bill with a book in the head. Johnson had an obsession with the shower needing the pressure to be hard and the temperature to be hotter than hell. It caused one of the staff to be hospitalized due to a nervous breakdown he was having such a hard time making the shower just right for the president. Pat Nixon didn't want the staff to look at them when they were in the room so they would have to turn their bodies away. This book looks back at fifty years and ten presidents who came and went while the resident staff stayed on taking care of the House and its every changing occupant keeping their secrets. Brower interviewed over a hundred resident workers, presidential aides, and first family members to write this wonderful and well-researched book. I really loved this book and it's behind the scenes look at how the East Wing of the White House is run. I found it touching how close the staff could sometimes be with the first family. Doorman Preston Bruce was asked by Jacqueline Kennedy to be with the family at the funeral and graveside of John F. Kennedy. Chief Usher West meant so much to her that she asked Nancy Reagan if he could be buried in Arlington and he was. When James Ramsey, a favorite butler from the Carter administration to 2010 died in 2014 Laura Bush spoke at his funeral and letters from both Presidents Clinton and Obama were read aloud. This was a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    This was not quite the book I was expecting. I was hoping for a more in-depth look at a group of White House residence staff, and what it is like for them to work at the most famous home in the country. What the book turned out to be is a slightly jumbled, chronologically messy, look at both the staff and the first families they served.

    Crossing the border between tabloid-y gossip and discretion (if I had a dollar for how many times the word "discretion" appeared in the book...) on more than one occasion, it turned out to be not the type of story I am usually interested in reading. There were a few shining moments that partially redeemed Brower's attempt at a Downton Abbeyesque portrayal of White House residential staff.
  • (4/5)
    A mostly enjoyable book about staffers in the residence (White House) who served presidents from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. I do wish the author hadn't inserted herself into the narrative as much as she did. I preferred hearing the stories from the workers.
  • (3/5)
    Really interesting facts put together in a slightly schizophrenic way read a bit dully.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting information about inside the White House. Although the Clintons and Mrs Reagan were not always seen in a positive light , over all the book did not contain a lot of personnel information. The staff seems to have kept confidentiality.
  • (4/5)
    This dishy book about domestic service in the White House made for great summer reading. Yes, the gossip is fun (Johnson's shower obsession, the Clintons' marriage troubles, high-maintenance First Ladies), but most of all you realize the huge import and privilege of serving the president and his family. We hear what went on behind the scenes during tragic times such as Kennedy's assassination and the 9/11 attacks. There is some reflection on race and socioeconomic justice as many of the staff is and has been African-American. Most impressive are the workers' discretion and respect for the institution in this day of social media blabbermouthing. Riveting and fascinating.
  • (2/5)
    I'm not sure which was worse: the narration or the book's organization.I have been complaining recently in my reviews over the lack of copy-editing. I will now add audio direction and producing. Brower did a prodigious amount of research. She evidently formed relationships with all the residence staff members who spoke to her, and as far as I could tell, treated them respectfully in print. Some stories were relayed that reflected very poorly on people that were later described as widely beloved. Well, I suppose I'm less than lovable at times, so I'll allow the famous residents a bit of humanity.My complaint of the written portion of the book was its disorganization. Perhaps if I had read it instead of listening to it, I could have discerned a pattern. But juxtaposing Johnson with Carter or Watergate with Bush made little sense. Even if the topics followed an unknown sequence, it would seem natural to relate them with some order. Stories were told by a wide variety of staff even within a particular topic.There were a lot of staff. Lots of Ushers and several Chief Ushers--the same can be said of the housekeeping staff, electricians, plumbers, butlers, cooks, chefs, Secret Service, and on and on. There were families with children, families with pets, families with nannies... It was a lot to hold on to, and without disciplined organization, well, it was nearly impossible. The narration was about the poorest I've ever encountered. White had no facility with accents. For quite a while I thought she was imitating an older, female, African American voice. Then I finally realized that was her "old person" voice. And there were many more older male voices than females! Sometimes she would get very breathy. At first I thought that was her Jackie voice. But then I realized she often used it at the beginning of chapters--so perhaps it was her own, natural voice. I woul rate a print edition higher. There were some lovely stories told. But don't waste your time with the audible edition
  • (3/5)
    An interesting read about life in the White House, but the story line seemed disjointed. Also, a lot of repetitiveness. Still would recommend for a quick, easy read.
  • (4/5)
    This is a fascinating look into the nuts and bolts of the White House and how the staff serves the First Families. It helps to humanize our presidents and provides intriguing insights on both mundane and historical events. It makes for a good audio listen.
  • (3/5)
    Mildly interesting book about all of the people who work in the White House - some for decades. Fortunately for the First Families, but unfortunately for the readers, these butlers, maids, electricians, plumbers, florists, chefs, etc. don't dish up much dirt.
  • (3/5)
    An interesting read that sheds light on the challenges and highlights of serving in the focal point of our government on a personal and professional level, the White House. These people that serve there need to be many things to a very select group of people, our Presidents and their families. The stories are at times revealing, heart warming, and at times odd. One thing it clearly showed is that for many if not most working there it is required that you know some one to get into this also very select group.
  • (4/5)
    A fun read covering the inside stories of First Families in the White House over the years and the dedicated staff(s) that devoted a lifetime of service and dedication to them.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting to read about the people behind the scenes, and their dedication to our first families.
  • (4/5)
    This is a fascinating book about the people who make The White House run smoothly and effortlessly. There were numerous times when I had to read sections out loud to my very patient husband who pretended to be as interested as I was. The section about President Johnson's shower were hilarious. Once again, because of Librarything readers, I went outside my comfort zone of fiction to read non-fiction and glad I did.
  • (4/5)
    A detailed look into the lives of those who work behind the scenes in the White House, from chefs and florists, to butlers and maids. I found this to be a very interesting read, very Downton Abby. I particularly enjoyed learning about the steps that go into transition from president to president, something I had never really given much thought. This is not a "nag on the weird habits of former presidents," in fact I would almost argue that the loyalty shown by current and previous employees lend the stories to be too positive and probably sugarcoated. Overall though, I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the topic or the Upstairs/Downstairs dynamic.
  • (4/5)
    This is a revealing book about the behind-the-scenes folks who support our President and his family. While the White House employees are, by nature, tight lipped these anecdotal stories revealed a lot about the WH workers and the temporary occupants. This is not a tell all, although the author is newspaper reporter, it could have been. The organization of the book was a little bit funky and led itself to some repeats of the same story in order to make a point. A good read, all in all, and informative.
  • (3/5)
    Pretty good. Interesting stories about life in the white house caring for the first families—the Kennedies, Johnsons, Nixons, Fords, Carters, Reagans, Bushes, Clintons, Obamas.
  • (5/5)
    An absolutely lovely work of elevating, all the while, normalizing the residents and functions of the White House. Well worth a read!
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely love this laid back, easy-listening inside look at the residence. My only wish is that the author had voiced the book.
  • (4/5)
    Well written book with the right balance of sensitivity to the inner workings of the White House.
  • (3/5)
    I found the premise of this non-fiction book to be rather compelling. I have to be honest – I never really gave much thought to the personnel that keep the White House running. These maids, florists, chefs, electricians and others are not paid extravagantly yet they are privy to the personal side of the First Family occupying the house.I did find parts of the book very interesting and I don’t want to give too much away. The people who agree to these jobs are a rare breed; loyal, discreet and very hard working. Many of them stay in their jobs for decades despite long hours and erratic schedules. They all serve at the pleasure of the President as the saying goes. Many of them maintain their loyalties to all of the families they served and didn’t want to talk to the author. We learn that early on in the book and it is reiterated – a lot. This was my biggest problem with the book, there was a lot of repetition. One story would appear in several different chapters woven into different narratives but how many times can you read the same facts? It was almost as if the book were a compilation of essays with minimal editing. I did read an advanced reader copy so I don’t know if perhaps changes were made before final printing.The writing style is easy to read and there were many interesting stories in the book and I did learn a bit about what it takes to keep the White House running. I also gained a very healthy respect for the dedication of the employees who work there.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed reading this book. It is written and read in an even-tempered and easygoing style, conveying the warm, comfortable relationship shared by the staff and the occupants of the country’s “house”. The book is filled with little tidbits of information that provide insight into the lives of the “First Families” and the staff that works so hard to support them throughout their term of office in the White House. It does not reveal anything earth-shattering, but it illuminates the true personalities of the occupants, in particular: Nancy Reagan who broke several ribs when her husband was shot, but was stoic, never revealing it, bearing her pain without complaint, instead devoting herself to the care of her husband, Hillary Clinton who suffered her husband’s indignity with dignity, although she may or may not have wounded him in anger, and Lyndon Johnson whose crudeness shone through often in crass behavior that surprised many. Little known facts that were not insulting or top secret made the book an interesting and informative read that respected all of the individuals discussed. Through the comments made by the staff, both the personal and professional White House staff, the true nature of the occupants, complete with their idiosyncrasies shines through. The author admits that most could not really speak that freely since they are employed for their ability to honor the occupants and to be discreet, and since they also feared retribution of some kind if they did. Those who currently work or who have worked for the Obamas, in particular, would not speak freely, perhaps because the Obamas are known to retaliate when they are displeased.It was nice to learn about the children of the first families. They were typical kids, the teens pushed the envelope sometimes, played loud music and were generally normal. The younger children often entertained the staff and guests with their antics. Still, their lives in the White House were not normal. They had no privacy or freedom and had to learn to live with a constant shadow lurking nearby.The first families and the staff mostly grew to love and respect each other. The staff worked hard to make each family feel special, to welcome them and support them when needed. They made every effort to anticipate their moods and requirements so that often, they did not have to be asked to do something; they simply knew to do it. They revealed that the Clintons were the most difficult to move into the White House and also entertained many unsavory friends who could not get clearance to enter the White House under ordinary circumstances. Without the express permission of the Clintons, overriding the rules to accommodate them, they would not have been admitted. They had a decorator who spent 8 years in the guest room at the White House because the decorating for them was an ongoing project. Chelsea was always polite and never gave them an ounce of trouble. They revealed that Hillary made excessive demands, at times, that Obama’s personal secretary, Rogers, was unprepared, and Clinton’s staff resented the Bushes for having defeated Gore, that Nancy Reagan had unrealistic expectations, often disregarding the fact that they had other lives outside and often needed or wanted to be home, yet the demands were always met. The Johnson girls and Ford boys were typical kids. Amy Carter stretched the envelope. The Obama girls were and are always well behaved. Their grandmother always gives their family private time and lives on a different floor. The description of Lyndon Johnson’s crude behavior was sometimes comical and the recollection of Nixon’s shame is a memorable, if not touching experience, for those who can recall that moment in time. The Kennedys brought class to the White House and the description of the scene that took place after the President’s assassination was particularly moving. The atmosphere in the White House on 9/11, was harrowing as the chaos and confusion is described. There was no plan in place for the evacuation of the staff in case of emergency. On the street, people were running all over, cars were abandoned and left running. In the aftermath, the staff thought about how it could have been them who were named as victims if the White House had been hit, and if the brave people who brought down the plane that was meant for it, had not acted as they did. Barbara and George H. W. Bush as well as Laura and George W. Bush, were especially devoted to the staff. They were used to having a staff to help them, so they got along very well, with mutual respect for each other, making few demands. Most of the families grew so close to some of the staff that they seemed like family and some relationships continued long afterward.Although they were supposed to be non partisan, they were human and many resented Johnson after Kennedy’s death, Bush when he defeated Gore. Soon, however, they all adjusted to the new family and served them with dignity because that was their job and they did it well or they don’t remain. From Margaret Truman to Sasha and Melia Obama, all of the memorable moments of White House history are covered. The election of the first black President was especially moving for the mostly African American staff. Many never thought they would ever live to see such a day. In reality, most, regardless of background, probably never thought they would see that day in their lifetime. America has made progress. This is the story of several decades of families in the White House and the staff that serviced their needs, kept them safe and loved them like family. Over several administrations, the staff is generally loyal and long term. They become totally devoted to the current residents and the feeling is usually in both directions. After several years together, relationships are formed. Few impart secrets for fear of some kind of retaliation, loss of job, pension or retribution of some kind. Few do because they also have deep respect for the occupants and their jobs. However, the anecdotes included are interesting. Karen White reads it fluidly in a composed manner. It is a very readable “memoir” of the White House years through the eyes of those who served it, and in some moments, also in the eyes of the former occupants, mostly the female occupants. They told interesting stories about how secrets were protected, odd behaviors were acknowledged, and procedures were learned by the new occupants as they adjusted to life in the White House. The difficulty in changing administrations was fierce; they only had a few hours to make the change, but they did it each time with grace. Although the time line bounced around as different events are illustrated, and although it sometimes felt a bit repetitious, this was a very interesting read. It humanized the occupants of the White House. It was very poignant to read about the devotion of the staff, about their effort to provide structure, comfort and security to each new family, about their discretion as they went about their daily duties, respecting the families need for privacy and revealing no secrets. They knew their place and appreciated it.
  • (4/5)
    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.