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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of the groundbreaking backstairs look at the White House The Residence comes an intimate, news-making look at the true modern power brokers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the first ladies, from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

In one of the most underestimated - and challenging - positions in the world, the first lady of the United States must be many things: an inspiring leader with a forward-thinking agenda of her own; a savvy politician, skilled at navigating the treacherous rapids of Washington; a wife and mother operating under constant scrutiny; and an able CEO responsible for the smooth operation of countless services and special events at the White House.

Now, as she did in her smash number-one best seller The Residence, former White House correspondent Kate Andersen Brower draws on a wide array of untapped, candid sources - from residence staff and social secretaries to friends and political advisers - to tell the stories of the 10 remarkable women who have defined that role since 1960.

Brower offers new insights into this privileged group of remarkable women, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. The stories she shares range from the heartwarming to the shocking and tragic, exploring everything from the first ladies' political crusades to their rivalries with Washington figures; from their friendships with other first ladies to their public and private relationships with their husbands. She also offers a detailed and insightful new portrait of one of the most-watched first ladies of all time, Hillary Clinton, asking what her tumultuous years in the White House may tell us about her own historic presidential run...and what life could be like with the nation's first first husband.

Candid and illuminating, this first group biography of the modern first ladies provides a revealing look at life upstairs and downstairs at the world's most powerful address.

©2016 Kate Andersen Brower (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Who is missing?

This book jumps from Jackie to Ladybyrd, to Pat to Betty to Nancy,To Laura to Barbara,to Hillary , to Michelle and to all their intertwined relationships. It does so in a disorganized, circular fashion, with one glaring omission: Rosalyn . She is mentioned for very brief moments in the very beginning and end, but gets about 1/10 of the attention of the other First Ladies. No chronology and certainly not equal attention given to all

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Review

I enjoyed the book but did not care for the narrator. She was overly and too dramatic. Found it annoying.

Marnie Johnson.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 06-21-16

an Intimate Conversation with Intriguing Women.

First I want to mention the narrator because so many of the reviewers disliked her. I do not agree with those reviewers. I liked Ms. White's conversational manner. I felt as though we were sitting over beverages sharing knowledge. It was a simple, quiet and intimate conversation about the first ladies. I loved it. One caveat: I listen (always) at 1.5 speed or faster so perhaps that helped.

This book was a lovely introduction into a subject I knew little about and has inspired me to seek out more reading material about some of these women. I have always believed that our First Ladies are far more important and influential than most Americans want to believe. Policy is in my opinion always influenced by the families of the President because that is what families do with any human being. I loved learning a little more about these women who stood side by side with the most important men of the last 50 years. The book was a very easy read despite the fact that it advances and retreats through time. I enjoyed learning about how these women interacted with one another and with the staff of the White House. I liked seeing how they sometimes liked and respected each other and sometimes snubbed one another. It felt real and true to life because we all act similarly at various times of our lives.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Tangential, fragmented with dull narration

Sequencing of stories is quite fragmented, many similar to author's previous books. Overall, no spoilers here!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-01-18

Engaging

In 2015 I started a project of reading biographies and memoirs about first ladies. I have managed to read most of the biographies except a few hard to find ones. I also learned that the rule book says first ladies is not to be capitalized. This book about the first ladies covers the first ladies from Kennedy to Obama and was published in 2017.

The book does not cover the first ladies chronologically but by topic. Under that topic the author may tell about each of the first ladies or only a few. At times I felt I was being yanked around and some information was repeated. Brower made a point that the majority of the first ladies did not want the position or to be in the spotlight. The author states the role is difficult, hard to quantify and often viewed through a lens of sexism. Brower noted that most of the first ladies became friends transcending political party differences. One of the examples given was that of Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson.

The book is well written and researched. The author appeared to be unbiased. Brower provides antidotes to make her points. Brower’s research included interviews of political advisors, friends, family and staff as well as letters, diaries and memoirs. The book provides general information. For those wanting more in-depth information, I suggest reading their biographies or memoirs.

The book is twelve and half hours. Karen White does a good job narrating the book. White is an actress and was an AudioFile Best Voice Award winner. She also has won multiple Earphone Awards and was an Audie Award finalist.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Another fine book about the White House.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would for the history of it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of First Women?

Jackie's reactioon to JFK's aassassination.

What about Karen White’s performance did you like?

She's good with different accents when she thinks they'll work.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Some parts made me laugh, others made me cry.

Any additional comments?

A must-have for history buffs.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Read It, you will learn so much!

This is a study of ten First Ladies. What a diverse bunch they are indeed. Maybe I have been living under the proverbial 'rock' but I had no inkling about these 'Ladies'. I was under the impression that they had a 'voice' in the West Wing. I was so sure that as they had sacrificed everything in order to assist their spouses into America's 'Top Job' that they would be respected and that that their input would be eagerly sought after. On the other hand I also thought that each one of these women would be gracious, yet assertive. Grateful to all those in service at the White House and to those who helped both her and her husband into that most prestigious and sought after position of influence and power. In some cases I could not have been more wrong.

Some of these women have been resilient and immense strength. Never losing their cool. Others, I am afraid to say acted up like petulant children performing their duties with a pout on their lips. What really got to me though, regardless of their behavior, be it good or bad was the fact that their husband always will keep his title but they will lose theirs and become the FORMER First Lady! Now isn't THAT infuriating?
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Enough to make your blood boil? Read the book. You will not be bored

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Well worth the read !

The value of the history of these women, whether Republican or Democrat cannot be overstated. Their commitment to their husband's legacy stands tall in the face of personal challenges. Apparently, only Ronnie, was loyal and faithful to the dignities of the office he represented. True to form, behind every successful man...is a woman with ambition. Only Hilary has repeatedly demonstrated time and again, in the face of tremendous obstacles, her unquenching desire to personally lead the country with a commitment that women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights. She stands on the shoulders of these giants who have indeed participated in the background as co-presidents.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • NB
  • 06-30-16

Terrible computer sounding audio voice

Terrible audio. It sounds like it is computer generated voice and impossible to listen to comfortably.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lynn
  • Georgia
  • 04-16-16

Rosalynn is pronounced with a long O.

The narrator did not take the time to learn how to pronounce Rosalynn Carter's name. Because I have the same name with the same pronunciation, I cringed every time it was spoken. The story was difficult to follow at times because the narrator did not take the time to pause before an anecdote about another First Lady.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful