Pets at the White House: 50 Years of Presidents and Their Pets

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9780615580630: Pets at the White House: 50 Years of Presidents and Their Pets

Pets at the White House provides a spectacular view into one of the most historic homes in the world and all of its four-legged, beaked, and pawed inhabitants from ponies, puppies, and cats to parakeets, sheep, and even an alligator. Interest in presidential pets has risen with the importance, power, and prestige of the American presidency. The American public has an insatiable appetite for stories of everyday life in the White House. This book brings it all to life. With charm, wit, and compelling photographs, author Jennifer Pickens reveals how pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images. The book starts with the Kennedy family and their menagerie of pets and continues through 10 administrations and more than half of a century to the Obama family and First Dog Bo. Throughout the pages are more than 200 exquisite photographs of presidents with their pets in quiet moments as well as more animated times of play, most of which have never been seen before. With a foreword by former First Lady Barbara Bush, this book has earned the devotion of the recent United States First Families, many of whom penned a unique quote for their chapters. This poignant collection of stories and photographs is a must-have for pet lovers and lovers of American history alike.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Boswell Pickens is a White House social expert, speaker, and event planner. She has personally interviewed dozens of White House insiders, including First Families, social secretaries, chiefs of staff, presidential aides, and White House Executive Residence staff. Her first book, holiday top-seller Christmas at the White House, was the first to fully and accurately document the lavish public and private Christmas decorations, celebrations, themes, traditions, and memories of more than 50 years of First Families. And, like its predecessor, Pets at the White House includes intimate contributions from living former First Families. An accomplished historian, Pickens has served on the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board, Friends of the SMU Library, and on other civic and prominent boards.

Review:

In Pets at the White House, Jennifer Boswell Pickens offers a delightful series of anecdotes and photographs of our nation’s First Pets, creating an endearing volume that will appeal to animal lovers and presidential theorists alike.
Although her account officially starts with the Kennedy years, Pickens also provides background details on the animals kept by earlier presidents, from Washington’s donkeys to Zachary Taylor’s horse, which was often spotted grazing on the White House lawn. From President Taft’s cow, Pauline Wayne, to Tad Lincoln’s turkey, forerunner of the annual Thanksgiving pardoned turkey, seemingly no animal has been overlooked. Pickens shares both legends and documented tales of an astounding variety of animals that have made their homes with our nation’s First Families. She reveals details about pets whose presence helped humanize presidential hopefuls and ensure election, and those whose constant companionship became part of their owners’ public images.
“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” President Truman famously commented. Pickens agrees. Her theory that “Animals have played a role in forming perceptions of the character and personalities of our Presidents” is supported by both the stories and the photographs she includes in her book. The Kennedy family’s “menagerie of animals, ranging from dogs, cats, birds, and hamsters to ponies, parakeets, ducks, and more,” for instance, is iconic. Few who remember the early 1960s are unfamiliar with photos of Caroline sitting atop her pony, Macaroni. Perhaps less familiar are the Kennedy’s dogs and Jacqueline Kennedy’s essay contest, the winners of which received puppies from a litter those dogs produced. Similar tales about other First Families provide more charming and warm-hearted particulars that reveal the often hidden personalities of the many famous people who have occupied the White House.
That the Nixon family’s poodle ate some of the fish from Lady Bird Johnson’s small goldfish pond or that the Ford family’s cat did not like Henry Kissinger are not matters of great national import, but they certainly are entertaining details, and readers are invited to draw their own conclusions about their significance. Whether President Reagan’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Rex, was the political asset some claim, “helping him dodge questions from the press,” does not even matter. The fact that Rex reacted to the rumored ghost in the Lincoln Bedroom and received substantial fan mail from the public is far more telling.
George and Barbara Bush’s dog Millie wrote her own book and raised more than a million dollars for literacy causes, and the Clinton’s cat Socks not only had his own books, but also starred on the White House’s web page. No one believes that either Millie or Socks actually wrote anything, yet people relate to the famous pets much as they do to their own less-celebrated special friends. America is a pet-friendly nation whose citizens seem to expect their leaders to share their love of animals.
Pickens has created a delightful book. Its photos, many taken by White House staff photographers, are wonderful, and the accompanying text, although brief, is revelatory and entertaining. Pets at the White House is sure to be enjoyed by America’s millions of pet lovers and appreciated by those who follow the the lives of the nation’s First Families.
--Cheryl Hibbard, Clarion ForeWord Reviews

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Book Description Fife Drum Press, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Pets at the White House provides a spectacular view into one of the most historic homes in the world and all of its four-legged, beaked, and pawed inhabitants from ponies, puppies, and cats to parakeets, sheep, and even an alligator. Interest in presidential pets has risen with the importance, power, and prestige of the American presidency. The American public has an insatiable appetite for stories of everyday life in the White House. This book brings it all to life. With charm, wit, and compelling photographs, author Jennifer Pickens reveals how pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images. The book starts with the Kennedy family and their menagerie of pets and continues through 10 administrations and more than half of a century to the Obama family and First Dog Bo. Throughout the pages are more than 200 exquisite photographs of presidents with their pets in quiet moments as well as more animated times of play, most of which have never been seen before. With a foreword by former First Lady Barbara Bush, this book has earned the devotion of the recent United States First Families, many of whom penned a unique quote for their chapters. This poignant collection of stories and photographs is a must-have for pet lovers and lovers of American history alike. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780615580630

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Book Description Fife Drum Press, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Pets at the White House provides a spectacular view into one of the most historic homes in the world and all of its four-legged, beaked, and pawed inhabitants from ponies, puppies, and cats to parakeets, sheep, and even an alligator. Interest in presidential pets has risen with the importance, power, and prestige of the American presidency. The American public has an insatiable appetite for stories of everyday life in the White House. This book brings it all to life. With charm, wit, and compelling photographs, author Jennifer Pickens reveals how pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images. The book starts with the Kennedy family and their menagerie of pets and continues through 10 administrations and more than half of a century to the Obama family and First Dog Bo. Throughout the pages are more than 200 exquisite photographs of presidents with their pets in quiet moments as well as more animated times of play, most of which have never been seen before. With a foreword by former First Lady Barbara Bush, this book has earned the devotion of the recent United States First Families, many of whom penned a unique quote for their chapters. This poignant collection of stories and photographs is a must-have for pet lovers and lovers of American history alike. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780615580630

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