Other title considered “Not a Doomsday Review”.
Inside the Residence is one of the few books devoted to the people behind the scenes at the White House. The resident staff maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Andersen Bower interviews former resident workers (only one current staffer agreed to be interviewed) about their time at the White House. The more expansive stories come from during the Kennedy administration through present day although there are a few workers from the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations alive to recount their experiences. The White House workers are federal employees whose jobs are not tied to any one president and they have to be non-partisan while inside the residence.
The insider tidbits about some of the most powerful men in American history are mind boggling. Lyndon B. Johnson, whom I knew liked to whip his penis out, was obsessed with the water pressure in his shower- he wasn’t satisfied with it even when the plumber had it higher than that of a fireman’s hose. He also gave orders to White House workers while sitting on the toilet. Jimmy Carter was so frugal that he had the florists pick wildflowers instead of paying for them in floral arrangements. He also got a convicted murderer out of jail to nanny his daughter after the two got along so well when the nanny was working in the Governor’s mansion on a special prisoner work release program. Jackie Kennedy persuaded President Bush to allow a cherished White House usher to be buried in Arlington Nation Cemetery.
It seemed that both President Bushes were universally beloved while the Clinton and Johnson years were a bit less enjoyable. Some presidents, like Regan, go about their business like the staff is invisible. Regardless, the White House workers are upset whenever a family leaves, particularly in the instances when they don’t serve a second term.
Andersen Bower provides an extensively researched, comprehensive overview of the lives of the people who allow the most Powerful Man in the World’s life to run smoothly. My chief complaint would be her tendency to repeat some facts and various antidotes throughout different chapters.