The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how the American presidency has hinged on the effectiveness of the White House chiefs of staff and how their decisions have dictated the course of our country
What do Dick Cheney and Rahm Emanuel have in common? Aside from polarizing personalities, both served as chief of staff to the president of the United States - as did Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and a relative handful of others. The chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers", wield tremendous power in Washington and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push POTUS' agenda, and - most crucially - are the first in line to the leader of the free world's ear. Award-winning producer and journalist Chris Whipple demonstrates how those appointed to this lofty position have often served as de facto prime ministers and the surprising extent to which their tenures have set the tone for our political climate. Through extensive, intimate interviews with all 20 living chiefs of staff and two former presidents, The Gatekeepers pulls back the curtain to expose how the nation's levers of power are operated by these right-hand advisors and what each appointment reveals about its respective president.
©2017 Chris Whipple (P)2017 Random House Audio
Most of the book was anecdotal collection of this and that. I thought it was funny. However, not sure about the facts. Have to question the editing since one clear error in the story was the representation of Oliver North as an army officer. Research on such a widely known fact gone wrong makes me suspect that there are other errors affecting authenticity. As i said the book is very entertaining. Worth one credit.
The author goes chronologically from the Nixon Administration through the Obama administration summarizing the tenures of each of the chiefs. He has excellent access to the principals and described many of the highs and lows of the administrations and how those related to the roles of the CoS. He also has good information about the personalities of each of the chiefs and how that either helped them serve their presidents or got in the way.
He makes the case over and over that the modern presidency cannot function without a strong CoS, which was attempted by Carter and Clinton. He also suggests that 'principals' -- CoS who take themselves too seriously do not function well in the job (Sununu and Regan). Finally, his stories also show that presidents are not generally well served by CoS who are too close, as that prevents them from giving bad news or tough advice to the presidents.
Extremely well researched and very interesting read, and each of his major points are generally well supported by interviews from those who were in the position.
The only loose end is that while these characteristics seem necessary, they are not enough to prevent disasters from occurring on their watch, which the author confronts most directly with Haldeman and Nixon. Not the fault of the book, but just a reflection of the fact that both people and the world of politics in Washington are very complicated.
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