First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies (Kate Anderson Brower, 2016)

first women

Why did you choose this book?

If there’s one area of history I’m passionate about, it is presidential history.  I haven’t had the chance to read Brower’s first book yet, but I probably will in the future.  I’m working on amassing all of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s books and I love love love answering presidential trivia.

What’s it about?

What the subtitle says.  It covers Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.  That includes their accomplishments as first ladies, their attitudes toward the role, and their relationships (good and bad) with each other and with their husbands.

Categories

Nonfiction, popular history

Other recommended reads?

The News Sorority by Sheila Weller.

Review

I was so excited and then so let down by this book.  It was written in a very gossipy style (like The News Sorority), rather than the more academic narrative nonfiction I prefer (like David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin).  I found it off-putting that the author had biases toward different first ladies.  She seemed to idolize Kennedy and revile Obama.  She also provided uneven coverage of the women, barely addressing the Bushes (especially Barbara) at all.  I did learn a few things from the book, but I expected so much more than it delivered.

Up next?

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

 

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