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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 04-15-15
The White House Explored & Exposed
The narration started out sounding stilted and super slow and drawn out--so much so that for a while I had the speed turned up to 1.25. Then White, the narrator, seemed to relax and the reading improved and I was able to go back to the normal slower speed. But, be aware the first quarter of the book was difficult going until it got better--so be prepared to give it some time.
The writing is not done in chronologic order so there is a fair amount of jumping around in time. This was a bit confusing. Also, events are organized by topics and broken down into sections. The problem was that there were several stories that must have fit into multiple sections and rather than just tell them once--they were repeated. I think the book could have been about two hours shorter if the author just stated up front once that all the employees that worked in the White House kept quiet about the first families and honored their privacy. This point was belabored so much that it was ridiculous. If it were really true there would be no book!
All those quibbles aside I enjoyed the book. I particularly liked the stories that came from the families themselves. It was fun, gossipy, glamorous, wasteful, silly and in spots filled with surprising detail. A chance to see an inside view of life in the White House that spans decades and shows the first families and the staff as the flawed humans they are. Recommended if you'd like to hear the gossips tour of the eighteen acres.
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