Friday, May 29, 2015

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Cover image for The residence : inside the private world of the White HouseThe Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House
By Kate Anderson

This is a fascinating look into the residential life of America's most powerful families who inhabit the White House as told through extensive interviews with the household staff - the maids, butlers, chefs, electricians, plumbers, and more. This is a world on which very little light has been shed over the years due to the intense code of secrecy the staff abide by, protecting the intimate details of some of the most public figures. Anderson worked hard to gain trust and access to their stories, and even in 'dishing' the staff she interviewed told very little in the way of salacious gossip or anything harmful to the families they served over the years. Still it is a rare glimpse that shows the strength, vulnerability, humor, and character of these very public presidents and their wives.

For me, just the intense structure in place to safeguard ensure total privacy and protection of the first family was so interesting. When a new president is sworn in, the household staff serve as the movers and move the leaving family out and the new family in - all during the inauguration so when the new first family comes to rest and prepare for the balls they are already moved into their new home. It was also hilarious and astounding to read about the idiosyncrasies of these iconic people - like Lyndon Johnson's obsession with having a shower that sprayed him with scalding water from all direction at the pressure of a fire hose; or Nancy Reagan's tight leash she kept on her husband. This is a fascinating read that is well researched and written in a very readable style.

No comments: