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

de J. B. West, Mary Lynn Kotz

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
4762038,589 (4.02)27
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 and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight 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 andthe 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 book is an enlightening and rich account of the American history that took place just behind the Palladian doors of the North Portico.… (mais)
  1. 00
    The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House de Kate Andersen Brower (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: West was head butler at the White House and offers stories specifically about the modern (post-Eleanor Roosevelt) first ladies. Andersen Bower interviewed many former White House staff members (including Mr. West) and offers a larger context of staff interaction with modern presidents and First Families. Some stories overlap between the two books, but they are good companion pieces.… (mais)
  2. 00
    First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies de Kate Andersen Brower (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: Both books offer interesting portraits of the modern First Ladies, although West's book goes farther back (to Eleanor Roosevelt). West was the head butler at the White House, so his memoir is more reverential and less gossipy than Andersen Brower's, but Brower's book is interview-based and has a more modern spin.… (mais)
  3. 00
    My Thirty Years Backstage at the White House de Lillian Rogers Parks (greytone)
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This is an interesting look at how the White House is run and the personalities of the First Ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt to Pat Nixon. There's actually not much about Mrs. Nixon because it was time for Mr. West to retire as she moved into the WH. He very discreet, rarely saying anything uncomplimentary about any of the people who occupied the official residence. But, he does give a nice picture of the various quirks and foibles of the First Families. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
This was a great casual listen. I loved hearing about the First Ladies for a change because history classes normally focus on the Presidents. I would love to hear a next installment covering the First Ladies I know more about because I've lived through them. I would recommend to anyone. ( )
  midkid88 | Aug 21, 2020 |
Loved to read about the daily life of the First Family from Roosevelt to Nixon..... This is NOT a gossipy book, but I think that made it special. ( )
  yukon92 | May 15, 2020 |
Book on CD performed by Eric Martin

Subtitle: My Life With the First Ladies

J B West began his career at the White House while still in the Navy reserve, serving first in the Franklin Roosevelt administration. In time, he was promoted to the position of Chief Usher, basically the head of household for the residence. This memoir details his years of service from 1943 to a year into the Nixon administration.

I really enjoyed this look at the private lives of the first families. Due to his position, West’s primary contact within each administration was with the First Lady. Her wishes as to how the private rooms would be used, preferred decorating colors and schemes, and private family routines governed how West and his crew handled things. Whether it was converting a closet to a nurse’s bedroom (and back to a closet), or “borrowing” space from a couple of adjacent rooms to create a private kitchen space, he and his staff handled every request with aplomb and professionalism.

Readers hoping for some juicy private gossip will NOT find it here. Discretion was paramount for the position, and West maintains that characteristic in his memoir. Still, it is a touchingly personal account. Twice he had to deal with a transition that was NOT due to an election (following the deaths of FDR and JFK), and the contrasts in how these were necessarily handled vs the typical handing over of power following an election is evident.

All told, I was interested and engaged throughout.

Eric Martin does a fine job of performing the audiobook. The pace was good and his diction was clear. He made little effort to imitate the voices of the first ladies, and I applaud him for that. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 22, 2020 |
Excellent! Fascinating and well-written. I highly recommend! ( )
  megamommpl | Jul 31, 2019 |
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West, J. B.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Kotz, Mary Lynnautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
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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 and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight 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 andthe 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 book is an enlightening and rich account of the American history that took place just behind the Palladian doors of the North Portico.

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