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Comment: Condition: Very good condition., Binding: Paperback / Publisher: Routledge / Pub. Date: 2000 Attributes: xxi, 511 p. ill. 26 cm. / Illustrations: B&W Photographs and Illustrations Stock#: 2058450 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Real Life at the White House: 200 Years of Daily Life at America's Most Famous Residence Hardcover – August 29, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0415923200 ISBN-10: 0415923204 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (August 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415923204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415923200
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the White House, the Whitcombs provide an irresistible chronological overview of daily life in the presidential residence. Divided into 42 chapters representing each succeeding administration, this survey is brimming with fun facts, tantalizing tidbits, and memorable anecdotes detailing two centuries of domestic bliss and strife in the White House. From George Washington, who chose the sight and initiated work on the presidential mansion, to Bill Clinton, whose well-documented White House escapades titillated and scandalized the nation, each individual president has contributed to the mystique of the most readily recognized home in the U.S. Together with scores of drawings, portraits, and photographs, the breezy text chronicles the significant physical, social, and emotional changes wrought by each First Family as they sought to personalize daily life in the White House. A broadly appealing slice of Americana. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Fascinating.It's a rich source of information about 40 of our presidents with dozens of photographs that give new meaning to in-house. -- Tampa Tribune
A genuine page-turner.Both wise and witty, Real Life at the White House is perhaps the most delightful 'house' tour you'll ever take. -- Victoria Magazine
Anecdotes are very much the point of Real Life at the White House, which relates each successive family's experience there. -- New York Daily News
...a lively account of private lives being lived in a public place.The Whitcombs have brought history and architecture together in a very human story of an enduring monument to American democracy. -- CNN.com
.. .a lively history of the families who made their homes here and the ways in which each put a personal stamp - for good or for bad - on the building. -- San Antonio Express News
Real Life at the White House is more than just a probe of presidential families; it provides in-depth White House history and examines the role of the First Lady as it changed over the decades. An intriguing presentation. -- The Bookwatch
Well-written ... should be read not only to discern the personal impact of each administration on a famous residence but also to observe the evolving nature of the presidency itself and its relation to the citizenry. Recommended for public and academic libraries. -- Library Journal
Real Life at the White House is a wonderful history of both the personal and official sides of America's presidential families. Claire Whitcomb and John Whitcomb provide an updated, 'user friendly' introduction to the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue--their highs as well as their lows. This is a fascinating, concise history of the day-to-day living within America's premier residence. -- James A. Abbott, Curator of Decorative Arts, The Baltimore Museum of Art
A wall-to-wall chronicle of the First House for the bicentennial of the First Occupant. -- William Seale, author, The President's House: A History
A completely new and fascinating White House history filled with personalized stories of the lives of presidential families. I've read most White House histories but this one, in my opinion, is the best. I couldn't put it down. -- Clement E. Conger, White House Curator, 1970-1986
Dense with facts, the work, however, is anecdotal and entertaining...the public, those interested in the structural and interior evolution of a famous residence, and anyone wishing to expand their presidential trivia will enjoy Real Life at the White House: Two Hundred Years of Daily Life at Americas Most Famous Residence. -- H-DC, H-Net Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Allen on November 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read almost every book on the White House and First Families and this truly is one of the best! A wonderful history of how our First families lived and worked in that most historic home! So very many pictures in this book are never before seen! The authors have truly done homework, talked to all the right people and have made a volume sure to be a reference book for all time! Great work! Great book!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian Melendez on July 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Father-daughter team John and Claire Whitcomb have woven a tapestry of American history from the perspective of the White House and the nation's first families. Their command of detail is impressive: not only the familiar trivia about decorations and furniture that you can find in other White House histories, but how each first family related to the staff, how each president financed the home's operation (paying until modern times out of his own pocket for the staff, public entertainment, and refurbishing), and how the White House has both changed and changed with the nation's concept of the connection between the people, their leaders, and their house.
I have been reading about American history and presidential trivia for three decades and, instead of running into the same familiar overused anecdotes on which so many books draw, this book contained educational and entertaining surprises on every page. The book portrays our presidents as human beings, and tells a story not only about their habits and routines, but about their emotions and their lives in and out of the public eye. The image that struck me the most was President Pierce--mourning his son's recent death--spending his first night as president nearly alone in the White House, sleeping "on a mattress on the floor, wrapped in his coat to keep warm," because his belongings were still packed, his grieving wife had not yet arrived in Washington, the Fillmores had not quite moved out, and the furniture was in disarray from the inaugural celebration. The book is full of such human anecdotes. I could hardly put it down.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A reader on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found this book full of information about the different Presidents and their families and how they adjusted to living in the White House.
There is a lot of information about earlier, less known Presidents, and I enjoyed reading those chapters.
I was also interested to read about all the pets over the years.
Every family seemed to have all sorts of animals.
It was interesting to read about the First Ladies and their "quirks". Mary Todd Lincoln ran up clothing bills that she tried to hide---just like Jackie.
Other stories that I found amusing were that Nixon would not allow guards or policemen to speak to him or Mrs. Nixon. Betty Ford couldn't understand why they ignored her greetings until this was explained to her.
Ronald Reagan served tea to Prince Charles who did not touch it because, as he explained later, he didn't know what to do with the little bag!
Many such amusing stories made this a truly enjoyable book. I recommend to anyone wanting to know about living in the White House.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
200 years of daily life at the White House are revealed in an involving pictorial history of the home lives of each presidency. Real Life at the White House is more than just a probe of presidential families; it provides in-depth White House history and examines the role of the First Lady as it's changed over the decades. An intriguing presentation.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ted Bright on January 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is dangerous. Were it the U. S. History highschool textbook, every student would become a history major. Or sociology. What a delicious insight into forty-two families, their joys and sorrows, idiosyncrasies and foibles, and their forty-two different relationships with this old house. John collects tasty historical tidbits with the appetite of a black hole. Claire kneads them into irresistible prows like Bonbons of chewy fact. More danger ? you can?t put the book down! Real Life in the White House provides a surprisingly pleasant review of U. S. history with a lot of interesting occurrences you?ll want to remember and share.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "mckngbrd4" on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you simply want a few raise-your-eyebrows stories about WH occupants, order this one. If you care about historical accuracy and context, forget it. The myriad misspelled names and often creatively edited/paraphrased quotations are the first big clue that these authors took the path of least resistance (how hard is it for a self-professed history teacher and an alleged professional journalist to check these simple and very important facts?). The heavy reliance on only a few sources--some of them completely unattributed and others, like Ronald Kessler's Inside the White House, entirely questionable--is the second.
Certainly, most readers won't care that much about these flaws. If you're more interested in storytelling than history, this is a decent collection of cotton-candy gossip about presidents and their families. But history fans looking for a competently executed and engagingly written account of White House private life will still do better to check out the work of the wonderful William Seale, among other writers. Though it's written by self-described professionals, Real Life at the White House is amateur hour.
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Real Life at the White House: 200 Years of Daily Life at America's Most Famous Residence
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