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Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies | [J. B. West]

Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies

J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - and coordinated its daily life - at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings, funerals, gardens, playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home.
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Publisher's Summary

A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life on Pennsylvania Avenue with America's first families, by the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst.

J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - and coordinated its daily life - at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings, funerals, gardens, playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For 28 years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests - including friends, relatives, and heads of state.

In Upstairs at the White House, West offers an absorbing and novel glimpse at America's first families, from the Roosevelts to the Kennedys and the Nixons. Alive with anecdotes ranging from the quotidian (Lyndon B. Johnson's showerheads) to the tragic (the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination), West's audiobook is an enlightening and rich account of the American history that took place just behind the Palladian doors of the North Portico.

©1973 J. B. West (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-02-15
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-02-15 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating"

    According to my records I read this book in 1973, but I must admit I cannot remember one fact from the book. So I decided to re-read it as it was re-published again in 2014. The book was on the New York Times best seller list in 1974 and again in 2014.

    The book is about J. B. West’s 28 years career (1941-1969) as assistant, and then Chief Usher at the White House. The book covers the time from the Roosevelt (FDR) to the early part of the Nixon Presidency

    The Chief Usher is the manager of the Executive mansion. The book provides the behind the scenes peek at the running of the White House. West tells about the difference between the Presidents and their families. Each was distinctive and had different requirements. Some Presidents and first ladies were incredibly demanding, while some were as gracious and pleasant as a friend.

    The book is packed with information about the needs and running of the White House. Personal tidbits about the First Ladies and their husbands were quite revealing but nothing inappropriate was revealed.

    The author says that Eleanor Roosevelt never walk, she half ran down the halls. He said she was constantly in a rush, meeting, speeches, and teas. Said sometimes she was rushing down the hall dictating to her secretary as she was rushing off to an appointment. As a trivia fan I found this book a delight as it is so packed with unusual and little known facts.

    I missed out on all the photographs because I read this as an audio book. Eric Martin narrated the book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bee 12-09-14
    Bee 12-09-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Loved it!"
    Where does Upstairs at the White House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    So far, it's Number 2. Excellent book, great narration, fascinating material. It was one of those that grab you by the collar and just yank you in before you even know it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I enjoyed the author's enlightenment on the First Ladies. Very interesting.


    What about Eric Martin’s performance did you like?

    Seemed real, not memorized or even read, really.


    Any additional comments?

    It really peaked my interest, and I'll be looking for other books of a similar nature.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Montgomery, IN, United States 10-04-14
    Lynn Montgomery, IN, United States 10-04-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Perfect"

    Loved this book and the authors life at the Whitehouse......couldn't stop thinking about it after I would put it down....he makes you feel like you are there with him...it was recommended for me to read and I'm so glad I did.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Romero 08-08-14
    A. Romero 08-08-14 Member Since 2014

    Book Lover

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    "Just Enough Information"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Upstairs at the White House to be better than the print version?

    Yes. The narrator did a very good job of painting a picture.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Upstairs at the White House?

    Each women had one story that was memorable.


    Which character – as performed by Eric Martin – was your favorite?

    Mamie Eisenhower - what a spirit.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How each First Lady needs to make this home their own


    Any additional comments?

    This gives just enough information on the First Ladies from Roosevelt to Nixon. The author doesn't dish dirt, but gives a very clear picture of these women and their personalities Very historical.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda Liberty Township, OH, United States 07-09-14
    Brenda Liberty Township, OH, United States 07-09-14

    I am a mother of two adult children and married to a wonderful man. I am a full time Realtor who enjoys historical fiction.

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    "Step Inside The White House in Years Past!"
    If you could sum up Upstairs at the White House in three words, what would they be?

    This book really had me feeling like I was at the White House and knowing what these earlier first ladies were like. Beautiful story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Head Usher, pride of work.


    What about Eric Martin’s performance did you like?

    He took the character on and made it his own.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josie 04-28-14
    Josie 04-28-14
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    "Even better in Audio"
    If you could sum up Upstairs at the White House in three words, what would they be?

    History, personal version


    Have you listened to any of Eric Martin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I love spreading it out, listening to it with my husband in the car as he's a history buff.


    Any additional comments?

    I loved reading this in paper decades ago. It is only better as an audio.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shirley 04-16-15
    shirley 04-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great listen"

    The book was really great with wonderful narration.
    I did not want the story to end.
    The time flew by.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Life in Your City 03-19-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Nicely Done"

    Very Enjoyable! I found it hard to pause in order to do other things. A nice I site to the people and running of the White House.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miz B 01-17-15
    Miz B 01-17-15
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    "Very interesting, fair performance"

    I'm surprised at the reviews on the narration of this book. The narrator sounds like he's reading a textbook. The book is very interesting but I have to keep stopping and listening to something else because he's about to put me to sleep. I almost think I would have enjoyed this book more if I read it as opposed to listened to it. The story is fascinating and should not come across as a history book which is what the audible version sounds like.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maya A. 08-05-14
    Maya A. 08-05-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A more feminine way to learn about past presidents"

    Through West's personal story, you get to learn some very interesting slices of American history, and appreciate how important First Ladies have been to American history, although at the time they were looked upon more for the gowns they wore than their intellect. A really fun way to learn history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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