The Residence

The Residence

Inside the Private World of the White House

eBook - 2015
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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.
Publisher: New York : Harper, [2015]
ISBN: 9780062476012
Characteristics: 1 online resource.


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Oct 30, 2017

Even if you think you're not all that interested in politics or presidents, it's fascinating to hear the stories of those who get things done in the most important place in the nation. The narration is amazing, meandering through history and presidents and First Ladies through the eyes of the "help" and by that I mean the people who are there to not see anything but do everything.

This is the perfect path to understanding how the first families lived and how our country's leaders view us regular people. Every president's family seems to respond to the racial/class division in a completely different way. Some seem families seem kind of like all rich, entitled people (Nancy Reagan, I'm looking at you). Other families seem like people you'd do anything for, and would love to have in your life. All the people who tell these stories are the real heroes: they are the ones who have made our country truly great.

The most humble, selfless of us are the ones whose stories we rarely hear, yet those are the best and most honest, real, memorable stories of all.

Beautifully written. Picked it up every chance I got while watching distracted toddlers. Couldn't stop, even with play-doh all over everywhere.

Feb 10, 2017

Terrific book. Great insight into a hidden world.

AL_HANNAH Jan 05, 2017

Such an amazing piece of history, that we don't really know much about.

An enlightening and entertaining glimpse into the daily workings of the White House. Firsthand accounts from many existing long time staff as well as retired staff offer unique insights into the presidential families that have resided in the White House over the past five decades.

JCLMaryanaK Nov 03, 2016

Brower's "The Residence" reveals the inner workings of the White House residence quarters told through the stories of the service staff. The narratives are informative of the many details and challenges facing both the staff and first families, many of which are surprising. Although I enjoyed a glimpse at the personalities and quirks of various presidents and first families, I would agree with other reviewers about the author's writing style being not very engaging. Still worth a read.

ArapahoeKati Oct 21, 2016

Who doesn't want to read about what goes on behind the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? I do!

Oct 09, 2016

Some very interesting stories, but it's thrown together in no logical order. The ridiculously long 28-page introduction is boring and unnecessary.

Aug 16, 2016

Interesting, hard to follow at times; kept checking author's bio because, as others have noted, writing style not particularly engaging.

Jul 17, 2016

I don't really care for this author's writing style. It is very chopping and non-engaging to the reader. She jumps back and forth constantly between Presidents whereas I think the book would have flowed better had she discussed each one in chronological order.

Jul 12, 2016

Listened to this on a car trip. Seemed a bit repetitive, but it was fascinating to get a glimpse at the lives of the people who support our first families.

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