Books by Carl Sferrazza Anthony

Released: April 12, 2005

"For good and ill—and, at times, to her husband's chagrin—Nellie Taft was far from the standard-issue first lady. Anthony paints a vivid portrait."
"Unconventional" is right: a pleasing biography of a beer-drinking, card-playing, cigarette-smoking presidential wife who insisted on a place at the political table, paving the way for successors such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

"It's been well-trod ground for the past 40 years, and this work will add little to the copious literature already out there."
The domestic side of Camelot in words and pictures—familiar fare—from presidential historian Anthony (Florence Harding, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1998

A revealing biography with unmistakably powerful contemporary parallels to recent presidential spouses, from Anthony (First Ladies, 2 vols., 1990, 1991). Plain and five years older than Warren, Florence was more indispensable helpmate than lover to her randy spouse. Anthony discloses what she assiduously sought to conceal, depicting a woman whose air of command (her husband nicknamed her —Duchess—) was a necessity for someone badly served by those closest to her. Escaping from a tyrannical father in small-town Ohio, she bore an illegitimate baby by a ne—er-do-well neighbor at age 19, only to have the father abandon her and their baby. Having obtained a common-law divorce, she later won the handsome Warren, supplying the drive and business acumen that propelled him from newspaper editor to president. Halfway through her marriage, she discovered Warren's affair with her friend Carrie Phillips. Friends such as Harry Daugherty, Jess Smith, Charlie Forbes, and Albert Fall helped destroy her husband's reputation through scandals such as Teapot Dome. A trusted family doctor, Anthony concludes, caused Warren to die by misdiagnosing heart trouble as food poisoning (and led Florence to cover up the mistake). Even boon companion Evalyn McLean, the morphine- and alcohol-abusing owner of the Washington Post, allowed Warren to use her mansion for trysts. In many ways, Florence deserved better. She relentlessly pushed causes (aid for veterans, animal rights, Zion National Park, women's suffrage) and, even before Eleanor Roosevelt, made the First Lady a figure of visibility, influence, and popularity. Inevitably, a public gripped by gossip in recent years about popular presidents and their assertive wives will find echoes in this chronicle, such as affairs, a friend's suicide, and a First Lady who consulted an astrologer. While sometimes overly reflective of Anthony's painstaking research, this biography is a fascinating account of one of the most complex of all the political wives of this century. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: May 20, 1991

Following up his 1990 history of First Ladies prior to 1961, Anthony now tracks the Presidents' wives as they flexed their political muscle more openly and encountered more controversy in the age of mass media. Anthony draws on previously unpublished letters, private papers, and interviews with the women themselves. Yet this proliferation of source material makes this volume less revealing of the more recent First Ladies. Possibly because other books and articles about First Ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Barbara Bush ``have overemphasized the speculative and invested or exaggerated material on some of the living and former First Ladies,'' Anthony treads lightly on rumored strains in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon marriages. Moreover, perhaps understandably for this former Nancy Reagan speechwriter, he devotes a great deal of space to his old boss while disclosing little. He does, however, provide a wealth of detail on the strategies the First Ladies have pursued for their causes and desires: homework (Mrs. Kennedy for the arts), quiet advocacy (Pat Nixon and Betty Ford in unsuccessful bids to have their husbands appoint a female Supreme Court Justice), open political partnership with the President (Rosalynn Carter), and observer and manipulator of all the President's men (Nancy Reagan). He is also unique in discussing the workings of ``the sorority'': past and present First Ladies who have forged surprisingly friendly ties despite their husbands' political differences. No deep analysis here of a changing institution and less spicy that its companion volume, but still a richly anecdotal popular history of ``potentially the most powerful `appointed' post in the federal government.'' (Fifty b&w photographs.) Read full book review >