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No Way to Treat a First Lady: A Novel Paperback – October 14, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375758755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375758751
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Christopher Buckley is not so much a novelist as a free-ranging satirist looking for targets. In Thank You for Smoking it was big tobacco and earnest reformers; in God Is My Broker it was business and religion; and in No Way to Treat a First Lady, it's the entire legal profession, not to mention the Washington establishment. The novel opens with the President of the United States returning to the conjugal bed after an illicit Lincoln Bedroom romp with the Streisandesque Babette Van Anka. His wife, the long-suffering Beth McMann, promptly clocks him with a Paul Revere spittoon. Several hours later he dies. "Lady Bethmac," as the First Lady is immediately dubbed by the media, is put on trial, and the resulting media circus gives Buckley lots of opportunity for nicely observed skewerings of legal culture. "Judge Dutch creaked forward in his chair. This is the source of the aura of judges: they have bigger chairs than anyone else. That and the fact that they can sentence people to sit in electrified ones. It's all about chairs." He gets in some neat neologisms--a lawyer performs a "credibilobotomy" on a witness--and sends up the pretensions of law TV: at a roundtable discussion, the guest from Harvard Law is invited "to provide gravitas and to shift uneasily in his seat when the other guests said something provocative." Buckley's Trial of the Millennium is so far-fetched that it seems entirely possible. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The lurid sexual excesses that dominated presidential politics in the late '90s provide plenty of comic fodder for Buckley's latest satire, which doubles as a legal thriller that begins when President Ken MacMann is found dead in bed next to his wife after a vigorous night in a White House guest room with his latest mistress, film star Babette Van Anka. First lady Elizabeth MacMann whose tabloid nickname is Lady Bethmac is first on the suspect list, largely because she bopped Ken with an antique spittoon after his latest infidelity, leaving a bruise that spelled out Paul Revere's name on the late presidential forehead. Beth quickly hires an expensive, successful legal gun named Boyce "Shameless" Baylor, who also happens to be an old flame, and Baylor wades into the sordid mess, using the well-established tactics of tabloid trials to steer his client toward reasonable doubt. But Beth gets cocky after his initial success and insists on taking the stand to clear her reputation, a tactic that backfires so badly that Baylor is forced to resort to jury tampering to try to force a mistrial. Buckley has to use some obvious narrative cliches to get Baylor and MacMann out of the mess after they rekindle their romance, but the good news is that this book is more plot driven than Buckley's earlier satires, making it more coherent and effective over the long haul. The political humor is first-rate as usual, as Buckley has plenty of fun with the slimy, silly mess that is Beltway politics. This is one of his better efforts, which should keep Buckley on the "A" list of American satirists.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Christopher Buckley was born in New York City in 1952. He was educated at Portsmouth Abbey, worked on a Norwegian tramp freighter and graduated cum laude from Yale. At age 24 he was managing editor of "Esquire" magazine; at 29, chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. He was the founding editor of "Forbes FYI" magazine (now "ForbesLife"), where he is now editor-at-large.

He is the author of fifteen books, which have translated into sixteen languages. They include: "Steaming To Bamboola," "The White House Mess," "Wet Work," "God Is My Broker," "Little Green Men," "No Way To Treat a First Lady," "Florence of Arabia," "Boomsday," "Supreme Courtship," "Losing Mum And Pup: A Memoir," and "Thank You For Smoking," which was made into a movie in 2005. Most have been named "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year. His most recent novel is "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?"

He has written for "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "Wall Street Journal," "The New Yorker," "Atlantic Monthly," "Time," "Newsweek," "Vanity Fair," "National Geographic," "New York Magazine," "The Washington Monthly," "Forbes," "Esquire," "Vogue," "Daily Beast," and other publications.

He received the Washington Irving Prize for Literary Excellence and the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Lore on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Buckley slakes a reader's thirst for a juicy satirical legal thriller in _No Way to Treat a First Lady_. Set in a familiar Washington D.C. atmosphere of politics and sexuality, this is the story of a First Lady accused of assassinating the President of the United States of America in a marital dispute.
Beth MacMann (or "Lady BethMac" as the press has dubbed her) has called on Boyce Baylor, a defense lawyer as famous for his outrageous antics in the courtroom as he is for winning cases. He, however, just may lose this one to get even with Beth, who dumped him way-back-when in law school to marry the Man Who Would Be President. Rounding out the cast of characters is Babette Van Anka, famous actress/singer and Presidential consort, who was one of the last people to see him alive.
Buckley has written a fast-paced novel which sends up both the media and the courtroom in this circus of a trial. Though thinly-veiled references to real personalities seem a little mean spirited (e.g., "Greta Van Botox," a cable news personality), for the most part Buckley sticks to satirizing the institutions and societal values which make such a mockery of justice. Suspenseful, funny and truly an entertaining book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Silver Springer on November 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Buckley is a satirist/comic so this book, his ninth, is 5 parts satire, 1 part who-dun-it mystery, and 1 part legal thriller, with the latter two parts clear exaggerations of the genre.
The story revolves around the death of President MacMann, a former war hero now turned womanizer. MacMann is found dead in bed next to his wife with an imprint of "REVERE" on his forehead from a nearby Paul Revere spitoon. The previous night he had a romantic tryst with Babette Van Atta, a Hollywood starlet staying in the nearby Lincoln bedroom. Foul play is suspected and Elizabeth Tyler MacMann is arrested and earns the tabloid name "Lady Bethmac". MacMann hires Boyce "Shameless" Baylor, a defense attorney notorius for courtroom antics which succeed in getting scoundrel clients off. Baylor and McMann were once engaged in law school and the engagement was broken when Beth married war hero McMann. During their many planning meetings, Beth and Baylor renew their romance which also complicates the proceedings.
This hilarious plot lampoons Bill and Hillary Clinton, trial lawyers a la OJ Simpson trial, media, tabloids, the Washington, D.C. establishment and many others. You will be laughing at the court antics and the mystery is solved in a very funny way.
If you enjoy satire and political humor this is the book for you!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on February 12, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a cliché, but true! I immensely enjoyed "No Way to Treat a First Lady", and found myself chuckling almost constantly throughout, laughing out loud many times, and laughing uncontrollably on several occasions. If you read this book in public, as I did, be prepared to receive disapproving glances from others who aren't having as good a time as you are.
No Way skewers the Washington political scene, the legal profession, the media, and in particular the Clinton scandals and the O.J. Simpson trial. But ultimately, like all great satire, it is really a no-holds-barred look at our current societal mores and norms.
The main characters in No Way are all composites, which is how Christopher Buckley is able to construct a storyline that departs from the actual events it is satirizing, but is still fully recognizable by anyone who followed the news in the late 1990s. You'll enjoy picking out references to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barbra Streisand, Marc Rich, Alan Dershowitz, and of course Monica - plus many others. Even Nick Naylor, the hero of Buckley's "Thank You for Smoking", has a bit part in No Way.
I've read most of Buckley's books, and No Way is right up there with his best. I'd put "Thank You for Smoking" first by a hair, followed by No Way, then "God is My Broker". Thank You is slightly more timeless, as No Way's humor will dissipate somewhat with time, as people's recollections of the Clinton years fade.
Christopher Buckley can legitimately lay claim to being America's top working satirist. Keep them coming, Mr. Buckley, sir!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Author Christopher Buckley, whose razor wit somehow transformed a spokesman for the tobacco industry a sympathetic protagonist in Thank You For Smoking, sets his sites on the alleged assassination of the president in No Way To Treat A First Lady. What's next? A comedic treatment of domestic abuse or drug addiction?
Whatever it is, based on the two efforts of Mr. Buckley I have read so far, it is bound to be an entertaining and intelligent. This time around, Mr. Buckely sets up fictional circumstances that hilariously skewer the scandals surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Cochran and OJ Simpson, Marc Rich, Monica Lewinsky, and the American legal system. Don't be surprised to find yourself laughing, loudly and often.
A friend of mine calls this kind of book a "warm shower" -- it's nice when you're in it, he says, but the good feeling doesn't last long once you step out onto the bathmat. It's a characterization I can't deny, but I'll say that this warm shower is better than most. It won't force you to ask yourself important questions, and it won't affect the way you see the world. But as an easy-to-read story that manages to keep the pages turning without insulting anyone's intelligence, it's hard to beat.
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