• Fight House

  • Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump
  • By: Tevi Troy PhD
  • Narrated by: Pat Grimes
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Fight House

By: Tevi Troy PhD
Narrated by: Pat Grimes
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Publisher's Summary

Washington Post best-selling presidential historian and former senior White House aide Tevi Troy examines some of the juiciest, nastiest, and most consequential internecine administration struggles in modern American history. In doing so, he not only provides context on the administrations, the players, and their in-fighting but also show how those fights shaped the administrations in question, the presidents’ historical reputations, and the policy landscape of modern America. In showing these fights, the book highlights tough tactics used by sharp-elbowed operatives to prevail in bureaucratic disputes, from leaks to delays in submitting items for review to moving rivals out of cherished office spaces. 

Fight House also looks at the presidents’ role in all of this and questions long-standing assumptions about whether creative tension is really the best method of governing. Troy employs both his historical knowledge as well as his own high-level White House experience to inform his recommendations for the best ways to staff and organize a White House to ensure the best results for the president - and the American people. 

Part riveting interpersonal history, part case study, and part analysis of the commanders in chief and their teams, Fight House is essential listening for students of the presidency and of the nation as a whole.

©2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about Fight House

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great GREAT Political Book

Great political book. My favorite in years. Also,
A great leadership/management book- this will help me a lot with dealing certain team/insider dynamics in my work life.

1 person found this helpful

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Relevant, Timely, and Disturbing

Having sought to build policy solutions in DC for 15 years perhaps too much on the naive basis of reason and logic, even working with Tevi for an all-too-brief moment, and having escaped that rat race to teach high school for the past decade, I've sometimes joked with people who ask about my transition that high school students behave much better than many of those with whom I worked in DC. (Tevi excluded. lol.) To the extent that's funny, it's because it's rooted in truth. One would think an exceptional nation would have a governance structure that used the inevitable infighting and rivalry as a productive tool. (See Doris Kearns Goodwin Team of Rivals, an obvious companion to this work.) The English Language Arts standards emphasize collaboration, so I get to teach kids now how to avoid some of the problems exposed by Tevi's work, but Fight House suggests other solutions, such as the repeal of the 1939 law that set up the current White House mess. At the time, the law was intended to give the president more power relative to his cabinet, but the system that resulted arguably weakened presidential power by creating a single bureaucracy reducing the president's power to transparently mediate and resolve cabinet disputes. White House organization and Article II policy development processes should be a substantive issue in the 2020 campaign. And if you're a journalist looking for creative questions to ask in the presidential debates, you couldn't find a better on-the-record source for inspiration than Fight House. And if you want to understand a key reason many voters are frustrated with the government, here it is.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Until the End

This book seems well written and interesting, until the end. Each chapter is organized by President, and I thought fair treatment was given to Republican and Democratic administrations. However the truncated chapter on the Trump administration heavily rationalizes behavior of administration members and the President, citing that "all of this has happened before". That is likely true, however the narrative structure did not make excuses for any other administration. For me, this soured an otherwise interesting book.

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Fight House

Informative. Answered many questions. Clearly written. Easy to listen to. I would recommend reading, or listening to it.

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A refreshing historical take

With the newspapers full of tales of Trump White House infighting, it’s easy to think this is a new state of affairs. Troy’s book is a refreshing reminder that the knives are usually out in the White House. Plus it’s a fun read. Would absolutely recommend.

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Mudfights, insights, sometimes gossipy

Before I criticize, let me say I find this book, in all, worth my time. But: the book is sort of a string of tidbits, some very useful and telling, some trivial. So, it is uneven and lumpy, there is not a disciplined over-arching idea structure, but a straight order in time with anecdotes chosen, I think, a bit haphazardly. I'm not be sure, at turns, whether the aim is to share big ideas and history, or to entertain a certain in-groupie audience. For example, what do I care, about the resentments, after JFK's death, between aides Sorensen and Schlesinger about which one would get his book out first? Or various big-shots' White House tennis games? That is this book at its most petty and gossipy. I'll admit, the appeal of a genuine "fly on the wall, insider" view was part of why I bought this. But some of this stuff might only charm a Georgetown groupie. This descends from history to the tabloid end of journalism. OK, there is good substantive stuff, hence the three stars. For example, the tension over US recognition of Israel was well depicted (though not the best version I have heard). On balance, there is some nice context here I appreciate, and heaven knows, in the trump era, we need context, we need history. I like the choice of focus, a novel point of view, alongside "The Gatekeepers" about WH chiefs of staff in a similar time frame. Power abhors a vacuum, and the quirks and towering egos of the palace retainers do matter. I do not mean to denigrate the author's pretty sharp job here too much: part of my frustration is, admittedly, my own recoiling from the friction and messiness in the White House by its nature and structure. Quirks at the top will show dramatically in the fringe around it. It is frequently like a bunch of scorpions shaken up in a jar, and expecting a harmonic chorus is too much. This one just from time to time veers into odd self-indulgent corners I think beneath the dignity of the book's ostensible aims. Finally, this is definitely not a good starter on these times or personalities. You are expected to know who everybody is, and the outlines of the history. On the other hand, if you know the history well, you may find parts of this repeat some well-worn stories (such as the dynamics between LBJ and his Kennedy hold-overs, especially Bobby Kennedy).