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First Lady Florence Harding: Behind the Tragedy and Controversy (Modern First Ladies) Hardcover – April 28, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A terrific biography of an important first lady who has never been given the recognition she truly deserves. Sibley not only corrects the historical record about the Harding presidency while revealing the life of a great lady, but also provides a positively fascinating read. No future first lady, or anyone interested in presidential history, should ignore this work." John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and author of Warren G. Harding "Sibley's lively and thoughtful book draws on dozens of contemporary accounts to bring Florence Harding to life. The gallant 'Duchess' was an immensely popular woman whose efforts to expand the visibility of the White House paved the way for Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy." Kristie Miller, author of Isabella Greenway: An Enterprising Woman"

From the Back Cover

"A terrific biography of an important first lady who has never been given the recognition she truly deserves. Sibley not only corrects the historical record about the Harding presidency while revealing the life of a great lady, but also provides a positively fascinating read. No future first lady, or anyone interested in presidential history, should ignore this work."--John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and author of Warren G. Harding

"Sibley's lively and thoughtful book draws on dozens of contemporary accounts to bring Florence Harding to life. The gallant 'Duchess' was an immensely popular woman whose efforts to expand the visibility of the White House paved the way for Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy."--Kristie Miller, author of Isabella Greenway: An Enterprising Woman

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern First Ladies
  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700616497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700616497
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,850,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bird's Eye View on June 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Professor Sibley has courageously taken a controversial stand on a controversial figure. In her skillful hands, Florence Harding emerges as a multi-dimensional woman, a person whom the reader can begin to know. And by treating the scandals surrounding the Harding administration in a balanced way, the author has escaped the trap of sensationalism.

Florence and Warren Harding appear as the consummate extroverts, charming and charismatic as well as gregarious. Florence opened the White House to tourists, admitting thousands on the grounds on some days. The author details numerous occasions where Florence shook thousands of hands. The Hardings reveled in their own celebrity, sporting a voluminous wardrobe of Hollywood-priced pieces, but it was part of their social environment, like costumes for a play. The hand-shaking was physically strenuous, demanding that they be on their feet for many hours, causing sore hands, wrists, neck, and feet and requiring glove changes, yet Florence enjoyed it. Florence was, if nothing else, a people person.

To judge by the accounts of the Hardings' popularity while in office, the public responded to their outgoing congeniality. Despite their celebrity status, the Hardings were socially inclusive, and the masses responded by thronging to the Hardings' front porch in Marion, and to White House events. On p. 177, Sibley notes the 20,000 people touring the White House on June 7, 1923, a one-day record. Florence's Easter Egg rolls were enormously popular. Public concern over Florence's illness and public mourning over Warren's death were heartfelt.

Even their inner circle was extensive, yet they seem to have had a warm intimacy with each member.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Liz on March 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First Lady Florence Kling Harding is an amazing woman. She has never been rightfully given credit for all the things she did in her lifetime.. This book really goes into detail!!!!
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By Jacqueline Patten on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
excellent new look at a much maligned First Lady.....many photos .....I recommend this book highly....couldn't put it down ...just great
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Watson on May 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Professor Sibley claims that "this book is the first to offer a full treatment of Florence as first lady, rather than as a supporting actress in a drama of scandalous dealings, womanizing, and illicit booze." (page 2), but is incorrect on two counts. First, historian Carl Anthony has already done a masterful job detailing the life of Florence Harding ("Florence Harding: First Lady the Jazz Age and the Death of America's Most Scandalous President"). Second, her book unsuccessfully tries to divorce the life of Florence from her adulterous husband Warren. You cannot write in a vacuum. This is unfortunate, for in order to understand Florence, you have to deal with her husband. And when she does touch on Warren's sordid lifestyle, she does it in a way that always gives him the benefit of the doubt.

The cover-up of Harding's scandalous lifestyle began with the Harding Memorial Association, formed shortly after his death. Family members then, and even now, have managed, through lawsuit, and intimidation, to keep pertinent factual information from competent historians. The author finally tells us on page 240, what all the rest of us have known all along, that because of this continual cover-up, no competent biography can be written, including hers. I quote: "Shrouded in mystery, the Harding years reminded subject to rumor and speculation of the worst kind, chiefly on the basis of the scandals that surfaced after Harding's death. Florence contributed to this poisoned picture in other ways; she refused to endorse any biography or collection of her husband's speeches that she did not direct or edit herself." (Emphasis mine).

Thus, this book is not the final full treatment that the author pretends. It is a rehash of old information.
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By j on October 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
interesting book
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