INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE

THE HIDDEN LIVES OF THE MODERN PRESIDENTS AND THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL INSTITUTION

A mixture of juicy but hard-to-verify gossip and anecdotes about presidents from Secret Service agents (sworn never to reveal secrets), White House housekeepers, butlers, maids, and cooks, as well as media figures and politicians. A former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter, Kessler (The FBI, 1993) has interviewed many named and unnamed sources who have worked at the White House. Currently, Kessler tells us, the White House employs a core of about 1,600 people (Herbert Hoover had approximately 50 employees) plus perhaps another 1,000 charged to other departments at a cost of over a billion dollars a year—although no one is sure exactly how much, since Kessler indicates that spending is uncontrolled and unaccountable. Also, Kessler's portraits reveal that no president is a hero to his valet (or to anyone else on the White House staff) and no First Lady a heroine to her housekeeper. Kessler's ``eyewitness news reports'' especially savage LBJ and Clinton, while drawing portraits critical of other presidents: the frugal, paranoiac Nixon and his $7.50 haircuts; the nasty, imperious, nitpicking Carter, whom Kessler depicts as the least-liked president; the popular but henpecked Reagan. Kessler depicts LBJ as a lying, uncouth tyrant who stole government property for his Texas ranch, and a contender for JFK's White House sexcapades title. More substantively, Kessler argues that LBJ ignored dire CIA warnings on Vietnam and followed the overly optimistic advice of the yes-men with whom he surrounded himself. Finally, Clinton is pictured as a poor manager and a deceitful figure who spends too much time pressing flesh while presiding over a staff that seems incompetent, unprofessional, and lacking in common sense and maturity. With substance calculated to irritate frustrated taxpayers as much as to entertain, Kessler's tabloid style is effective in enticing the reader to keep turning the pages.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-671-87920-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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