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Editorial Reviews

Cormac O'Brien's humorous and irreverent audiobook on America's First Ladies might not paint full biographical portraits, but it certainly paints colorful ones. Listeners know they're in for an idiosyncratic history when each chapter opens not only with the dates the subject lived in the White House, but also her astrological sign.

Teresa DeBerry performs Secret Lives of the First Ladies

with the perfect amount of snark as she reveals that Mary Todd Lincoln was a witchy impulse shopper and Dolley Madison had a penchant for tobacco chew. DeBerry seems to delight in the audiobook's fun revelations as much as the listener does, for who can resist the dirty details of history?

Publisher's Summary

Scandals, Seduction, Addiction, Adultery, Horrific Fashions...And the White House?!

Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the First Ladies features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the women of the White House - complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that:

  • Dolley Madison loved to chew tobacco
  • Mary Todd Lincoln conducted séances on a regular basis
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and Ellen Wilson both carried guns.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy spent $121,000 on her wardrobe in a single year
  • Betty Ford liked to chat on CB radios - her handle was “First Mama”
  • Hillary Clinton dreamed of being an astronaut
  • .

With chapters on every woman who’s ever made it to the White House, Secret Lives of the First Ladies tackles all of the tough questions that other history books are afraid to ask: How many of these women owned slaves? Which ones were cheating on their husbands? And why was Eleanor Roosevelt serving hot dogs to the King and Queen of England? American history was never this much fun in school!

©2009 Cormac O'Brien (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-11-15

Trivia delight

This is a great book for gathering trivia information but be forewarned the book mixes facts with gossip. I recently read “Upstairs at the White House” by J. B. West which is West’s memoirs as Chief Usher in charge of the East wing of the White House and the first ladies. West book is all facts. O’Brien’s book covers all of the first ladies to date. The first ladies are a position of marriage and she is not paid for any of her work. The effect the first ladies have on the nation is immense and should not be overlooked.

Some of the information is well known such as Abigail Adam’s letter to her husband John while he was working with the group writing the Constitution to “Remember the ladies”. The author says it was Helen Taft that saw to the planting of the cherry trees that was send as a gift from Japan. O’Brien also includes some little know facts such as the candy bar Baby Ruth was named after President Cleveland’s baby daughter.

O’Brien states some the Presidents and their wife’s were partnerships, like the Carters, The Hoovers and the Taft’s while other Presidential couples were just quietly devoted to each other, such as the McKinley’s, the Cleveland’s, and the Truman’s.

The book has made me want to learn more about some of the first ladies. I shall be off to the library looking for a good in-depth biography of a first lady. Teresa DeBerry narrated the book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda
  • Yacolt, WA, United States
  • 06-09-14

Where did they get this narrator???

Nice voice in the narration but what's with all the snottiness??? Just started listening and I really wish someone else was doing the narrating. Tone of voice is snippy gossip. How demeaning to the First Ladies.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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interesting facts

Would you try another book from Cormac O'Brien and/or Teresa DeBerry?

not sure I would. was interesting, to have that many facts of presidents wives, but not sure i would say it was a serious book to read, just like a trivia book.

What did you like best about this story?

interesting facts

What aspect of Teresa DeBerry’s performance would you have changed?

a little mundane. more expression could of been used/

Was Secret Lives of the First Ladies worth the listening time?

I am not sorry i listened to this book, but nothing out of the ordinary.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Human Interest Stories are the BEST!

An interesting walk down memory lane - one OUTSIDE a textbook that would hold you responsible for remembering all the dates!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great little known facts

Any additional comments?

This book was a great listen and should be enjoyable for Presidential history or women's history enthusiasts. First wives, especially those of the past, are not often talked about, and this book really makes them come to life. There were a few that I hadn't heard much about and found myself looking into biographies on them just from the brief summary on their lives. I also like how the book included stories and info about the other wives of the Presidents from before or after their term in office. It was interesting how some wives dreaded the thought of their husband becoming President, while some of them actually drove their husband to it. I also enjoyed that the narrator had a lot of personality and didn't conflict with the story or its purpose. I highly recommend this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Almost a First Man

This was a fun election year read, especially considering how close we came to having a First Man. I always wonder about "power couples." This was an interesting behind the scenes look at the President's lives.

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Interesting!

Learned so much about the wives and the men they married. Very good information.

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Enjoyable

It's true that this book mixes rumors and facts, but that does not detract from the enjoyment of listening to it. Also, it shines a light on the vast influence these powerful women had on our nation--a subject all but ignored in our traditional K-12 education.

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Not interesting.

I didn't enjoy this enough to finish it. The performance was much like the narrator was much like the narrator on "Desperate Housewives" where it worked, but it just doesn't work for this book.

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Very partisan

Would you try another book from Cormac O'Brien and/or Teresa DeBerry?

It is pretty obvious that the writer was a Democrat. I feel Republican first ladies were unfairly reviewed, and Democrat First Ladies were glowingly described. If you are a Democrat you will love this book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful