THE FIRST TO SPEAK by Kristin Clark Taylor

THE FIRST TO SPEAK

A Woman of Color Inside the Bush White House
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the tradition of soft, self-congratulatory autobiographies, a young former Bush Administration media-relations director reveals the secrets of her success.

Taylor--youngest of seven children born to a Detroit factory foreman and a public schoolteacher--attended the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and so encountered early the "two worlds'' of African-American urban culture and WASPish power and prestige that she claims to have tried to bring closer to each other in the Bush White House. There are gaps in Taylor's story: It's not clear when or why she became a Republican; and it's somewhat mysterious why--after being recruited for then-Vice President Bush's press office from the editorial board of USA Today, where she was the youngest board member and a columnist--she put aside strong initial reservations and left a promising career in journalism to pursue political p.r. (today, Taylor handles media relations for a large corporation). In the course of three years in the White House (before she suddenly felt that it was time to "move on''), Taylor became wildly fond of the President--who, we learn, shook hands with (and was vomited on by) her one-year-old son; lavished attention on her proud, dignified parents; frequently intervened with her bosses on her behalf; and contributed a personal check to a foundation set up in her mother's memory. In return, Taylor says, she removed from at least one of Bush's speeches the word "nigger''; defended his Willie Horton ads among her friends; and introduced him to black publishers. Taylor seems to offer two lessons here: that with strong core values, African-Americans such as herself can do anything they set their minds to; and that the world of powerful white Republican men is a kinder, gentler place than had previously been believed.

Harmless--but not particularly riveting or enlightening.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-42510-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993