First Ladies tells the story of one of our nation's most curious institutions, watching the role as it has evolved from ceremonial backdrop to its current place as substantive world figure. This expanded and updated edition brings us up to the present, examining the lives and roles of our most recent First Ladies: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush. Reaching back to our first, Martha Washington, Betty Boyd Caroli explores the background, marriage, accomplishments and failures in office of every woman who has served as First Ladywhich in some cases included the daughters, daughters-in-law, and sisters of presidents.
In new and expanded entries, Caroli focuses her keen critical eye on investigate the acts, advocacies, successes, shortcomings, and legacies of Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Following all of her trials and triumphs, from unwelcome White House upstart to praiseworthy U.S. Senator, Caroli captures the essence of Hillary Clinton. She awards Clinton due credit for the influence she added to the position of First Lady, explores with an unflinching eye the suffering Clinton endured, and praises her as stalwart role model to women around the globe. In an entirely new entry, Caroli introduces Laura Bush as a woman of independent thought and action, a former teacher who earned a master's of library science. She shows that Bush is one who eschews political action but is nonetheless passionately committed to enriching education and boosting literacy through reading programs and literacy campaigns.
Depicting how each of the remarkable women who have served alongside our presidents have employed the "magic wand" given to them, Caroli reveals not only how each First Lady changed the role, but also how the role changed in response to American culture. In publicizing their accounts and stories, Caroli grants an insider's view on their lives, and also on the history of American women at large.