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First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents' Wives and Their Power, 1789-1961 Paperback – March 27, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688112722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688112721
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carl Sferrazza Anthony is the author ofFirst Ladies, First Ladies, Volume JJ, andAs We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Friends and Family. His work has appeared inGeorge, American Heritage, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair andTown & County among many other publications. He is a popular lec-turer and media commentator on First Ladies. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brooke Cale on January 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mr Anthony has pulled together through obvious painstaking research a brilliant guidebook for all history lovers. Accounts of more recent first ladies with the advent of television, radio etc. may be familiar to some readers, but facts abound on the lesser knowns. Frances Cleveland, Julia Tyler etc. come alive before your very eyes as the stories unfold. The position of First Lady (we also learn how that name came about-a tribute to Dolley Madison at her funeral) was obscure in its development and graduated into the highly prominent position it is today. Anthony suggests that the earlier ladies were not as obscure and quiet as one might think. We learn as we delve into their lives, dressing habits, political views, nicknames, friends, lovers etc. A foreshadowing element is used throughout hinting at future events working quite qell as the stories weave around each other. Mr Anthony must be applauded for an exceptional piece of history. The wife of a president is not just that as he points out, but a character at times of strength, adversity, integrity, wit, fear, brilliance, insecurity etc. An intriguing page turner......
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Martha E. Nelson on February 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an extrmeley interesting, well-researched look at American politics and society through the history of America's first ladies. The author does an excellent job of having the women he chronicles truly become individuals, sometimes very different from their husbands. He finds ways to bring the early life of future first ladies into his narrative, and he provides clues to the roots of some American icons that I certainly didn't know about--like the reason for the name of the Baby Ruth candy bar, named after Frances and Grover Cleveland's first daughter.
This is not a book that reads quickly. It is comprehensive and careful, and is meant to be savored as a work of history. I'm looking forward to reading the second volume of this.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Martha E. Nelson on January 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent, well-researched book. The author paints a dense, richly detailed portrait of each first lady and the social and political background of her time. I learned a lot--not just about the historical women, but about American cultural and social development. This is not a fast book to read, but it is a book to savor and learn from. It is also truly history--no attempt to sensationalize issues--and I appreciated that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Petriccione on July 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anthony's treatise has several outstanding merits, not the least of which is its impressive scope. No other First Ladies scholar (known to the general public) has succeeded in furnishing so rich and abundant a collection of anecdotes and insights on the topic of the Presidents' wives, many of whom -- such as Rachel Jackson and Jane Appleton Pierce -- would have descended into utter obscurity. Anthony gives short shrift to no one [First Lady] and that is a rare, fair feature -- much to be commended!
Over the years, authors / publishers of of First Ladies anthologies have shortchanged readers. All-inclusive Anthony must be credited with tastefully -- rather than sensationally -- putting forth the lesser known faces and facts, and despite his tendency to digress, presenting all sides of the picture.
In each First Lady installment, the author's massive (and occasionally frustrating) tendency is to weave, albeit expertly, in and out of character, like one making a tapestry, ending ultimately where he started; naturally, that is scant consolation for the researcher with little or no time to waste. Said another way, whereas the the stated focus (if we go by chapter index) is a particular First Lady, the pattern is to be discursive within that chapter by taking divers detours into the lives of prior or subsequent First Ladies. For instance, what does a lengthy paragraph on the youthful Rosalyn Carter have to do with a chapter supposedly on Bess the Boss (Truman)? Why does Anthony ramble on about deployment of the Atomic Bomb if the topic was Edith Wilson's admiration of Bess's ladylike restraint?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Anthony uses suspense and foreshadowing to make his characters come alive as he reveals to the reader the role each First Lady plays in the development of American history. He focuses on how much power each woman sought to exert and how successful each was in influencing her husband. Anthony shies away from gossip, focusing on the positive aspects of these ladies lives. The book is enjoyable to read and proves extremely informative.
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