THE SHADOW PRESIDENTS: The Secret History of the Chief Executives and Their Top White House Aides by Michael Medved

THE SHADOW PRESIDENTS: The Secret History of the Chief Executives and Their Top White House Aides

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There is absolutely nothing ""secret"" about this glorified directory of White House bureaucrats from Lincoln to Carter. Sources include familiar books and articles, documents (nothing newly released), and interviews with Clark Clifford, Sherman Adams, Theodore Sorensen, Bill Moyers, H. R. Haldeman, Richard Cheney, and ""members of the Carter White House staff""--although these contemporary portraits are no livelier than the rest. Michael Modred (coauthor of Whatever Happened to the Class of '65 ?) struggles to convince us of the book's urgency and his credentials as author. Detailing Hamilton Jordan's tasteless gaffes, Medved explains that ""without a sense of historical perspective,"" it would be ""fruitless"" to try to understand Carter's risking ""continued criticism and humiliation"" by keeping him on; and since Modred once wrote speeches for an unsuccessful Senate candidate, he does understand the ""extraordinary interdependence"" between politicians and top aides. Then comes the parade of historical trivia: Lincoln's secretary John Nicolay; Andrew Johnson's alcoholic son Robert; Colonel Edward House, whose relationship with Wilson had ""deep sexual resonances""; Sorensen, ""the bit of yeast that allowed the cake [Kennedy] to rise."" Worse is Medved's analysis: a Carter aide admitting that the President ""likes to be smarter"" than associates leads Modred to conclude that ""Carter's emotional needs cause him to confine himself to aides of limited ability""; and comparing Lincoln's staff of two with Carter's 600, Medved suggests that a 19th-century aide may have been more powerful than today--eliminating the need for this book. Wait for the TV series supposedly on the way.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Times Books