First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives

First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives

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by Margaret Truman
     
 

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"Fascinating. . . . First Ladies is a wonderfully generous look at the women who, often against their wishes, took on what Truman calls 'the world's second toughest job.' "
—The Christian Science Monitor
Whether they envision their role as protector, partner, advisor, or scold, First Ladies find themselves in a job that is impossible to define,

Overview

"Fascinating. . . . First Ladies is a wonderfully generous look at the women who, often against their wishes, took on what Truman calls 'the world's second toughest job.' "
—The Christian Science Monitor
Whether they envision their role as protector, partner, advisor, or scold, First Ladies find themselves in a job that is impossible to define, and just as difficult to perform. Now Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry Truman and an acclaimed novelist and biographer in her own right, explores the fascinating position of First Lady throughout history and up to the present day.
With her unique perspective as the daughter of a First Lady, Ms. Truman reveals the truth behind some of the most misunderstood and forgotten First Ladies of our history, as well as the most famous and beloved. In recounting the charm and courage of Dolley Madison, the brazen ambition of Florence Harding, the calm, good sense of Grace Coolidge, the genius of Eleanor Roosevelt, the mysterious femininity of Jackie Kennedy, and the fierce protectiveness of Nancy Reagan, among others, Margaret Truman has assembled an honest yet affectionate portrait of our nation's First Ladies—one that freely acknowledges their virtues and their flaws.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Truman's look at the nation's first ladies features capsule accounts of a selective number of women who have shared the White House with their husbands. She includes the obvious subjects such as Martha Washington, Dolley Madison, Mary Todd Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and all the modern presidents' wives, along with lesser-known first ladies as Julia Grant and Julia Tyler. Although Truman, a mystery writer (Murder in the White House) provides a brief background on the women she profiles, she focuses, naturally enough, on their White House years and the roles they played in their husbands' administrations. And Truman attributes to the first ladies plenty of influence over their mates, asserting on numerous occasions that they have played major parts in changing the course of history (e.g., how Dolley Madison's courage helped her husband, and the country, recover from the War of 1812). But her light approach makes it difficult to tell whether she seriously believes her assertion that Rachel Jackson and Lou Hoover died of broken hearts because of the negative publicity about themselves and their husbands. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Truman writes about first ladies with the obvious advantage of an insider, having spent her young adulthood in the White House. Her book is a tribute to both her parents-her father urged a study of presidential wives, and her mother exemplified the role of a supportive partner. Rather than following a strict chronology and discussing every first lady, Truman draws comparisons and contrasts. Lady Bird Johnson is judged the most successful first lady; Florence Harding the least. Lucy Hayes's interest in improving the lives of the poor and Ellen Wilson's interest in slum clearance foreshadowed Eleanor Roosevelt's career. Truman concludes that first ladies should provide public support to the president but there is no single pattern to follow, and each lady needs to fill that role in her own way. Truman's work is the latest popular treatment of presidential wives, following surveys with the same title including Carl Sferrazza Anthony's two-volume set (LJ 8/90, 4/1/91) and Betty Boyd Caroli's soon-to-be updated book (LJ 9/1/87). Recommended for public libraries.-Patricia A. Beaber, Trenton State Coll. Lib., N.J.
Booknews
On personal & public styles. Truman interviewed the madames Johnson, Ford, Reagan, Carter, Bush, and Clinton and carefully researched all the first ladies. And of them she writes with a practiced, skillful hand. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780449223239
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/1996
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
382,870
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.79(d)

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First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyable short biographies that will propel one into expanded readings.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worth a read for the unique perspective of the daughter of a President who lived the White House experience.  Organized, not chronologically, but by the similar characteristics of the First Ladies.  I learned a lot I did not know and as someone said, it will give you the itch to delve deeper into the lives of the First Ladies that most interest you.