Cover image for First families the impact of the white house on their lives
Title:
First families the impact of the white house on their lives
Author:
Angelo, Bonnie.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2005]

©2005
Physical Description:
xiv, 336 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060563561
Format :
Book

Available:*

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E176.1 .A665 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

What is it like to be America's First Family? This wonderfully engaging and anecdotal book by Bonnie Angelo, author of the acclaimed First Mothers, tells the story of the wives, children, extended families, and pets as well as the presidents who have lived in the White House. This unique book provides a lively look at how presidential families learned to cope with the demands and grandeur imposed on them and worked to create a home in a beloved but often stifling national monument.

Over the years the White House has become a living force, shaping and warping the families it shelters. Its residents quickly learn that in return for its many perks and four-star service, the White House makes its own demands on them -- while it enhances their status, it curtails their lives and imposes unwanted duties. Jacqueline Kennedy was not the only member of a new First Family who thought, "I felt as if I had just turned into a piece of public property."

Angelo probes two hundred years of American history to tell the story of real life within the White House walls. As a longtime correspondent for Time magazine, she witnessed and reported about much that has happened in the White House over the last four decades. In this book Angelo chronicles exhilarating moments and dark days in the lives of the First Families and the nation, with behind-the-headline accounts of the stirrings of love, the joyful weddings, the tragic deaths of children and spouses, the squabbles of marriage, the glittering evenings and glaring mistakes all occurring within the same historic rooms. Through it all, the families constantly struggle to keep their lives private from the public domain.

Here are the unique pleasures and pains of a vast array of characters, from activist wives Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt to reluctant occupants Bess Truman and Jacqueline Kennedy to those who embraced their new address and status such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Dolley Madison, and the rollicking sons of Theodore Roosevelt. Written by an inimitable storyteller, First Families is an unforgettable human portrait of presidents and their families during their White House years.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The acclaimed author of First Mothers (2000) returns to the White House to provide an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of extended presidential families. Focusing on how 43 diverse family units managed to transform a national monument into a family home, Time correspondent and former White House reporter Angelo opts for a subject arrangement rather than a chronological one. Various chapters center on entering and exiting the White House, growing up in the public eye, dealing with the media, entertaining on a grand scale, conducting a courtship or a love affair in a fishbowl, enduring family trials and tragedies, and suffering the slings and arrows of public and private contempt. Stretching back and forth through time, she covers more than 200 years of American history, popular culture, and presidential trivia. Relying heavily on the recollections and memoirs of presidential family members, White House staff, and D.C. journalists, this chatty slice of Americana is chock-full of fun First Family facts. --Margaret Flanagan Copyright 2005 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran Time correspondent Angelo (First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents) makes the lives of those who either loved or loathed their sojourns in the White House as irresistible as a gossip column. Although some of her stories are well known-such as Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt's distant relationship and Nancy Reagan's devotion to her husband-Angelo has gleaned fresh nuggets from history as well as her personal contacts from a long journalistic career. Andrew Jackson, for example, gave an eight-year-old slave as a christening gift to a relative named after his deceased, beloved wife. President Taft was so fat he got stuck in the presidential bathtub. Lemonade Lucy Hayes banned alcohol at state dinners, but she was undermined by rum punch hidden in platters of oranges. Angelo is particularly skilled at describing the difficulties White House children, including Lyndon Johnson's daughters and Amy Carter, had adjusting to life in a fish bowl. Angelo does, however, ramble, with loosely organized subjects rather than a chronological narrative, and doesn't anchor less familiar figures, like the families of presidents Polk and Pierce, in historical context. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Todd Shuster. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In her more than 40 years with Time magazine, Angelo (First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents) reported on both the East and the West Wings of the White House. Now, with this collection of succinct and vivid anecdotes, she takes readers inside the lives of the presidential families. Instead of being organized by president, her chapters are thematic, starting with the impact of first moving into the White House, then covering daily life, what it was like for presidents' children to grow up in the Executive Mansion, the constant struggle to maintain some sense of privacy inside the fish bowl, gala special events, the styles and tastes of the various families, the relationships formed with other heads of state and their families, and, finally, the bittersweet farewells as the next presidential family moves in. Angelo refers to all 43 presidencies and uses her own personal contacts and past interviews when discussing recent administrations. This rich gathering of tidbits is a nice contemporary supplement to previous reminiscences and White House histories. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

First Families The Impact of the White House on Their Lives Chapter One Stepping into History Washington sparkled like anicicleafterablizzard roared in as the 1961 inaugural celebrations were beginning. On any other day a snowstorm would have paralyzed the city, but on this day it was an opportunity to show the resilience, fortitude, and jaunty spirit of the New Frontier. At the White House the near-endless inaugural parade straggled by the presidential reviewing stand, the trumpeters in the marching bands struggling to make their fingers and the valves function in the brutal cold-while trying, like the thousands who lined Pennsylvania Avenue, to catch a glimpse of the new President and his wife. Never in its long history had the White House welcomed a presidential couple as storybook young and glamorous as John Fitzgerald and Jacqueline Kennedy. He was forty-three, the youngest elected President; she was thirty-one, mother of an infant son and three-year-old daughter. Together they made a family who would beguile the nation. The new President, whose mop of sandy hair was the cartoonists' delight, wore-or at least carried-a top hat, in deference to tradition and the hatmakers union; the new First Lady instantly set a new threshold of chic, from her pillbox hat-copies would be in department stores within days-to her old-fashioned fur muff and fur-trimmed ankle boots. At the inaugural ball that evening Jackie was a generation apart from Mamie Eisenhower's full-skirted, sequin-studded gowns. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was sophisticated elegance in a stalk of white silk softened by a cape of fluttering chiffon. She owned the night; it was her debut as a megastar, and she infused the White House with a magic she would never lose. Theirs was the ultimate changeover at the Executive Mansion. In the finest presidential tradition, the transition was courteous and circumspect, even though Kennedy knew that Ike considered him a young whippersnapper and Eisenhower was aware that Kennedy viewed him as a symbol of the past. As the youngest couple arrived, the then-oldest President and his wife, the much admired Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, were departing after eight happy, conventional years. They were an aging army couple retiring to their Gettysburg farm, giving way to a growing family that required a nursery. The Eisenhowers represented success born of bedrock middle-American beginnings, the comfort of the familiar, a nation basking in good times. The Kennedys brought a sweeping reordering to the White House-a new era and a new generation; a change of political party, of style, of goals; the dashing war hero replacing the legendary general who had masterminded victory. In a matter of hours the White House would have to adapt to those differences. Both the incoming and departing First Ladies felt some reluctance on Inauguration Day. Mamie, lighthearted, sociable, a popular favorite, was sorry to leave the home she and Ike had lived in longer than any of the thirty in their thirty-seven years of marriage, the beautiful house she had made her own, with its well-trained staff to do her bidding and a social life she had enjoyed to the fullest. She had made it a second home for her grandchildren, who lived close by, and the regular meeting place for her canasta group. From her first day as First Lady, Mamie, the five-star general's wife, was not intimidated by the White House. Jackie entered her new life in the White House with a sense of dread, a fear that she would be caged, that her children would be harassed, their childhood spoiled. With her elite pursuits and standoffish manner, she had been targeted as a campaign liability. Already she had learned that she could not even control her own name: she wished to be "Jacqueline" outside her select circle of family and friends, but she had become "Jackie" to all. She disliked "First Lady" asatitle-"Itsoundslikeasaddlehorse," sheprotested-but nonetheless she was tagged "First Lady." Later she reflected, "I felt as if I had just turned into a piece of public property." That was only a slight exaggeration. From the moment a new First Lady crosses the North Portico and enters the White House on Inauguration Day she becomes a public figure, whether she likes it or not. The White House is at the juncture of its family's personal lives, their private joys and sorrows, and the life of the nation they represent; family moments and historic events are intertwined. In addition to managing her children and the inescapable day-today planning, the First Lady is required to be chatelaine of the world-famous mansion and is expected to appear supportive of her husband-or at least not damaging-as he wrestles with the world's most powerful position. The White House is a home, a museum, an institution, a symbol-and for the families who live there, it is both a palace and a prison. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton, a lawyer long involved with public issues and for twelve years a governor's wife, was taken aback by all her new position entailed. "I don't think anyone is prepared for the whole role that comes with being First Lady," she said in retrospect. "It is not a 'job'-it is an intense, overwhelming experience. There is no guidebook to tell you what to do." Literally overnight, the new First Lady wakes up to find herself a different person, one she may not recognize or wish to be. Without her consent she is transformed from private helpmeet into a front-page figure. She quickly learns that in return for its many perks and four-star services, the White House makes its own demands on its residents; while it enhances their status it curtails their lives and imposes unwanted duties. Even before the inauguration, Jacqueline Kennedy had received invitations to attend almost three hundred events and more than a thousand requests to lend her name to every kind of organization. She declined almost all, which, her staff director, Letitia Baldrige, well remembers, led to anger and pressure. First Families The Impact of the White House on Their Lives . Copyright © by Bonnie Angelo. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from First Families: The Impact of the White House on Their Lives by Bonnie Angelo All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.