Read 22 nonfiction books in 2022.
7/22 The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
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 the 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
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This was a fascinating look behind the scenes of life in the White House.
“There are prison-like elements, but it’s a really nice prison,” Michelle Obama said.
While the president’s come and go, the staff remains for decades, sometimes even generations! There were so many interesting details and traditions that are kept up. Each department (florist, bakery, etc) takes incredible pride in their job – even placing elaborate flower displays in rooms that would be empty that day. The author managed to track down many former employees —ushers, electricians, maids, butlers, chefs, and florists—to share their (mostly) loyal thoughts on the well-known families they served. I liked how the book was organized chronologically and included anecdotes about increasing LBJ’s water pressure, dusting Nancy Reagan’s Limoges boxes and searching for Caroline Kennedy’s lost hamsters, just to name a few.
This was published in 2015 – I can only imagine what the current staff thought of Trump!
About the Author:
Kate Andersen Brower is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller THE RESIDENCE and the New York Times bestseller FIRST WOMEN, and FIRST IN LINE. Her latest book TEAM OF FIVE looks at the relationships between members of the President’s Club and includes an Oval Office interview with President Trump. Her book THE RESIDENCE had been optioned by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. She has written for Vanity Fair, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. She covered the Obama White House for Bloomberg News and is a former CBS News staffer and Fox News producer.
What do you think about this book? Have you ever visited The White House?
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