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Rating The First Ladies: The Women Who Influenced the Presidency Hardcover – March 1, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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About the Author

In addition to his works of science-fiction and fantasy, John Maddox Roberts is also the author of the SPQR books, a series of mystery novels set in ancient Rome. He lives with his family in New Mexico. The story of Hannibal’s Children will continue in Roberts’s next novel, The Seven Hills.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806523875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806523873
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,082,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

For his latest book, J.B. Roberts II travelled to northern India in the dead of winter to reach Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's home in exile. While doing research for the book he stayed in an unheated guest house during the coldest January on record for years, raced thunderstorms to write a TV show from an Internet cafe before lightning plunged Dharamsala into a black-out, and immersed himself in the world of Tibetan exiles and their political movements.

It was just another typical adventure in a career that has thrown him into the Salman Rushdie riots in Pakistan, the overthrow of the Ceasescu dictatorship in Romania, and an attempted coup in Argentina. As a freelance television producer, Roberts has written thousands of shows and interviews for world leaders, celebrities, experts, politicians, and authors. He works on assignment around the world, from exotic locales such as a remote atoll in Tahiti to world capitals like London and Madrid.

Born in Panama, Roberts has lived in Spain and worked throughout Latin America. Before making a mid-career switch to writing fulltime, he was an international political consultant. His experience in the White House and in campaigns in the U.S. and abroad makes him an expert in political movements and trends, especially in developing democracies. His personal knowledge of how politicians work and what motivates them carries into his non-fiction books, bringing an invaluable insider perspective.

Roberts is working on a new book, a novel called "The Ministry of Public Works."

He is listed in "Who's Who in America" and has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Reader's Digest, and other publications. When he isn't writing television shows, books, or articles, he can be found drawing and painting,or wandering remote biways in his 1984 Jeep.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book was a Christmas gift, and I didn't know what to expect since I'm not really into politics and I like biography more. Once I started reading I was hooked by the biographies and the way the writer places each woman in the sweep of the history and politics of her times. I found the rating system easy to understand and the author explained it in great detail in the book's introduction. John Roberts really brings politics to life, instead of the dry boring subject I always thought it was. I'm really glad I read it this year, when the focus is on presidential candidates and potential first ladies. I plan to give this book to many on my birthday list this year.
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Format: Hardcover
Life is competitive, right? This is an engrossing book that really helps explain why Eleanor Roosevelt ranks #1,Abigail Adams #2, Dolley Madison #3, Jackie O #4, Hillary #5, Rosalynn Carter #6, Lady Bird Johnson #7, Betty Ford #8, Edith Roosevelt #9, and Sarah Polk #10. Find out why Laura Bush is only #24!

This book dishes lots of embarrassing details passed over by other more flattering accounts of first ladies. Don't be bothered by hisotorical nit-pickers who can't see the forest for the trees -- this isn't an encylopedia, it's a way to measure first ladies. You'll never think of them in old-fashioned stereotypes again after reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. ... He makes incredible errors of historical fact-well known historical fact, at that. For heaven's sakes never mind his errors regarding the women's lives, he puts Warm Springs (where FDR died) in West Virgina instead of Georgia(and where were his editors?) His lack of understanding of the truth of women's lives is no worse than many otherwise credible male biographers. Read it with a spoonful of salt, and you will learn of many women who have been overlooked. Just know going in that you are reading what amounts to a shallow overview magazine type article. Not unenjoyable just disappointing. I ignored the whole rating thing which is absurd.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid reader of first lady biographies, but this is the first book I've come across that treats first ladies as equal partners in the presidency. This book won't please hardcore feminists, who want us to think most first ladies were helpless victims of male oppression, nor will it please male chauvinists who think a first lady's place should be confined to charitable causes. What these essays show is that throughout our history women have been a vital part of the presidency. This book brings a much needed sense of historical balance to the story of the women who have shared the White House with our presidents. It isn't written by a historian, but by a political consultant with hands-on experience working in the White House. It's the best contribution to the history of first ladies in years.
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Format: Hardcover
Why haven't other authors probed the hidden political history of first ladies like this book does? There is no other single book about first ladies which comprehensively examines the contribution each and every woman has made in shaping our history. This is the best and most concise analysis of first ladies and their political influence in the White House. The book uncovers the involvement of 19th-century first ladies in political campaigns, congressional debates, legislation, and even war. This book really hits its stride when it comes to 20th centiry first ladies, from the adventurous and globe-trotting Lou Hoover to the manipulative Helen Taft and the neurotic Betty Ford. Edith Roosevelt carries out secret diplomacy for Teddy, helping him earn a Nobel Prize for peacemaking, Edith Wilson learns codes and ciphers to translate diplomatic cables and intelligence reports for Woodrow, and Eleanor Roosevelt flies into combat zones to rally troop morale. Roberts doesn't have much sympathy for the public images first ladies project as glossy fashion queens, charity dilettantes and fundraisers for non-profit organizations -- he focuses on the meatier role about how political spouses help determine presidential fortunes -- and misfortunes. His analysis of Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush presents completely new information about these first ladies and their influence. The book gives a panorama of U.S. history and many interesting political anecdotes that are glossed over, buried, or simply ignored in other accounts of first ladies.
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Format: Hardcover
I would not normally review a book that I had not read in its entirety, but when I saw the glaring error in the section on Dolley Madison, I felt I needed to inform potential readers about it.

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of research on Dolley Madison and therefore I was surprised to see Mr. Roberts state that she was the one who saved the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence when the British burned the White House in 1814. This is a commonly told myth. While she did save as many documents as she was able to at the expense of her personal items, neither the Declaraton nor Constitution were kept in the White House. They were kept in the State Department.

In Richard N. Cote's biography, Strength and Honor, the Life of Dolley Madison, he states, "Some have credited Dolley with being the savior of the Declaration of Independence, but that honor goes to Stephen Pleasanton, a brave clerk in the secretary of state's office. Despite the scorn of Secretary of War Armstrong, who scoffed at any danger of invasion, Pleasanton and other clerks "stuffed bags with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, international treaties, and the correspondence of George Washington."

Anthony S. Pitch's book, The Burning of Washington, the British Invasion of 1814, also tells this story although he spells the last name "Pleasonton".

In the website, The Dolley Madison Project, it states that she saved "the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington along with official papers, silver, and other valuables."

I am quite a fan of Dolley Madison, but it is Stephen Pleasanton or Pleasonton to whom we owe the survival of those two most treasured documents.
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