The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

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9780062305190: The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.

America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.

These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.

Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.

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From the Back Cover:

America's first families are among the most private public figures on earth. From the mystique of the glamorous Kennedys to the tumult that surrounded Bill and Hillary Clinton during the president's impeachment to the historic yet polarizing residency of Barack and Michelle Obama, each new administration brings a unique set of personalities to the White House—and a new set of challenges to the fiercely loyal and hardworking people who serve them: the White House residence staff.

No one understands the president of the United States, and his family, like the men and women who make the White House run every day. Now, for the first time, their stories of fifty years, ten administrations, and countless crises, large and small, are told in The Residence. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, maids, chefs, florists, doormen, and other staffers—as well as former first ladies and first family members—Kate Andersen Brower, who covered President Obama's first term, offers a group portrait of the dedicated professionals who orchestrate lavish state dinners; stand ready during meetings with foreign dignitaries; care for the president and first lady's young children; and cater to every need the first couple may have, however sublime or, on occasion, ridiculous.

In the voices of the residence workers themselves—sometimes wry, often affectionate, always gracious and proud—here are stories of

  • The Kennedys—from intimate glimpses of their marriage to the chaotic days after JFK's assassination
  • The Johnsons—featuring the bizarre saga of LBJ's obsession with the White House plumbing
  • The Nixons—including Richard Nixon's unexpected appearance in the White House kitchen the morning he resigned
  • The Reagans—from a fire that endangered Ronald Reagan late in his second term to Nancy's control of details large and small
  • The Clintons—whose private battles, marked by shouting matches and flying objects, unsettled residence workers
  • The Obamas—who danced to Mary J. Blige on their first night in the White House

And just as compelling are the stories of the workers themselves, including Storeroom Manager Bill Hamilton, who served eleven presidents over fifty-five years; Executive Housekeeper Christine Limerick, who married a fellow residence worker; Chief Usher Stephen Rochon, who became the first African American to hold the post; Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, who feuded fiercely with Executive Chef Walter Scheib; and Butler James Ramsey, who made friends with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and whose spirit animated the White House through six administrations before his death in 2014.

Working tirelessly to provide impeccable service and earning the trust and undying admiration of each new first family, these extraordinary White House workers served every day in the midst of history—and lived to tell the tales.

From the Back Cover:

“Absolutely delicious.”—Washington Post

From the mystique of the glamorous Kennedys to the tumult that surrounded Bill and Hillary Clinton during the president’s impeachment to the historic tenure of Barack and Michelle Obama, each new administration brings a unique set of personalities to the White House—and a new set of challenges to the fiercely loyal and hardworking people who serve them: the White House residence staff.

In her runaway bestseller The Residence, former White House correspondent Kate Andersen Brower pulls back the curtain on the world’s most famous address. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, maids, chefs, florists, doormen, and other staffers—as well as conversations with three former first ladies and the children of four presidents—Brower offers a group portrait of the dedicated professionals who orchestrate lavish state dinners; stand ready during meetings with foreign dignitaries; care for the president and first

lady’s young children; and cater to every need the first couple may have, however sublime or, on occasion, ridiculous.

“Superbly reported. . . . A fascinating backstage account of the world’s most famous residence.”—Judy Woodruff, anchor, PBS NewsHour and former White House Correspondent for NBC News

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