Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History

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9780375401060: Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History

An extraordinary work of history and original reporting that reveals the ways in which presidential marriages have affected the tone, character, and policies of twelve administrations, from Woodrow and Edith Wilson to George W. and Laura Bush.

Each of the marriages that Kati Marton examines in this hugely appealing book offers up its own unexpected lessons about power and marriage, about the influence of presidential wives, and about the evolution of women’s roles in the twentieth century. Based on private White House documents and on interviews with the participants and with eyewitnesses to presidential events, Hidden Power explores how both the personal dynamics and public faces of White House marriages have shaped our history.

We see Edith Wilson literally running the government when her deeply beloved husband becomes ill; how the combination of Franklin Roosevelt’s reassuring spirit and his wife’s humility guided the country through Depression and war; how Bess Truman’s loyalty, bluntness, and unpretentiousness were some of her
husband’s greatest resources; the superb and necessary diplomacy of Jacqueline Kennedy.

We observe Lady Bird Johnson retaining her own compass in the face of massive criticism of her husband; how Patricia Nixon’s estrangement from her husband fed his paranoia; how the Fords reassured us after the debacles of Vietnam and Watergate; Rosalynn Carter’s struggle to carve out new territory as first lady; the generally constructive role Nancy Reagan played, despite her frivolous reputation; the razor-sharp political instincts behind Barbara Bush’s grandmotherly image; how Hillary Clinton saved her husband’s presidency; and how Laura Bush provides emotional ballast for her husband.

Here are the stories of the ultimate power couples—each one very different, but all of them informative, lively, and absolutely fascinating.

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From the Back Cover:


"In Hidden Power Kati Marton explores a neglected dimension of the modern presidency. The result is not only acute and perceptive; it is also one of the most readable and diverting books of the year."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
"Hidden Power is an astute analysis of high-level bedroom politics: intimate, well-reported, and well-told. One assumes presidential wives have been influential and powerful. Marton proves it with the kind of delving and digging that makes her one of our fine historians. Solid and dazzling, a great read."--Lesley Stahl

"Kati Marton takes us on a fascinating and illuminating tour of the hidden power centers of the American Presidency–the women behind, beside and occasionally in front of the men in the Oval Office. I was entertained, informed and enlightened." –Tom Brokaw

"Kati Marton has done a splendid job of showing us the importance of modern First Ladies as political figures and as towering examples of the changing role of women in America. Hidden Power is an absorbing and original look at a dozen formidable women and the men with whom they changed American history." –Michael Beschloss

"There have been many books on First Families. This is without question one of the very best. Kati Marton is a wonderful writer with a gift for storytelling and a keen insight into the relationships between presidents and their wives. This is a book anyone interested in the American presidency will love to read." –Doris Kearns Goodwin

About the Author:

Author and journalist Kati Marton was born in Hungary and has spent two decades writing and reporting from the United States, Europe, and the Far East. Ms. Marton is a director and former chairperson of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists and a member of the Freedom Forum’s Media Studies Center Advisory Committee. She also serves on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, the New America Foundation, the J. Anthony Lukas Memorial Foundation, the Central European University, and is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. Ms. Marton is the author of HIDDEN POWER, a book about presidential marriages, published by Pantheon Books (Fall 2001).

Since 1980, Ms. Marton has published four other books and contributed as a reporter to numerous news organizations, including ABC News, Public Broadcasting Services, National Public Radio, Atlantic Monthly, The Times of London, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, and The New Republic. Her first book, Wallenberg, a biography of Raoul Wallenberg, was published by Random House in 1982. From 1983 until 1984, she was a columnist for the Sunday Times of London. Her second book, a novel entitled An American Woman, was published in 1987. Her investigative history, The Polk Conspiracy--Murder and Coverup in the Case of CBS News Correspondent George Polk, published in 1990, has been acquired by Mel Gibson for a feature film. Her fourth book is A Death in Jerusalem--the Assassination by Extremists of the First Middle East Peacemaker, published by Pantheon books in the fall of 1994. From 1995 until 1997, Ms. Marton hosted America and the World, a weekly half-hour broadcast on international affairs from National Public Radio, produced by the Council on Foreign Relations.

From December 1977 until December 1979, Ms. Marton was Bonn Bureau Chief and Foreign Correspondent for ABC News. While based in West Germany, Ms. Marton reported from many countries, including Poland, Hungary, Italy, Holland, Northern Ireland, and East Germany.
Ms. Marton was a news writer/reporter at WCAU-TV, the CBS-owned and -operated affiliate in Philadelphia, from January 1973 until November 1977. At WCAU, Ms. Marton covered City Hall, the courts, and labor-related stories, and anchored newscasts, documentaries, and talk shows. From March 1971 until October 1972, Ms. Marton was a reporter for National Public Radio in Washington. In addition to diplomatic and political assignments, Ms. Marton was involved in the development of NPR’s program, All Things Considered.

Ms. Marton has received several prestigious honors for her reporting, including a Gannett Fellowship in 1988 and a George Foster Peabody Award for a one-hour documentary on China in 1973. She was a Freedom Forum Media Studies Center Visiting Scholar at Columbia University from 1992 until 1993. She also received a Philadelphia Press Association Award for Best Television Feature Story and a Channel 12 (PBS) Award for reporting. Most recently, she received the Marc H. Tanenbaum Foundation for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding Media Bridge-Builder Award and the Kyriazis Foundation award for the promotion of press freedom, both in 1997.

Ms. Marton attended Wells College in Aurora, NY, the Sorbonne, and the Institute des Etudes de Science Politiques in Paris. Ms. Marton was awarded a BA in Romance Languages and an MA in International Relations from George Washington University in 1971.

Kati Marton is married to Richard Holbrooke, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, and lives in New York City with her children, Elizabeth and Christopher.

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