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Secret Lives of the First Ladies [Kindle Edition]

Cormac O'Brien , Monika Suteski
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Scandals, Seduction, Addiction, Adultery, Horrific Fashions—And the White House?!?
Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the First Ladies features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the women of the White House—complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that:
     •  Dolley Madison loved to chew tobacco
     •  Mary Todd Lincoln conducted séances on a regular basis
     •  Eleanor Roosevelt and Ellen Wilson both carried guns
     •  Jacqueline Kennedy spent $121,000 on her wardrobe in a single year
     •  Betty Ford liked to chat on CB radios—her handle was “First Mama”
     •  Hillary Clinton dreamed of being an astronaut
     •  And much, much more
With chapters on every woman who’s ever made it to the White House, Secret Lives of the First Ladies tackles all of the tough questions that other history books are afraid to ask: How many of these women owned slaves? Which ones were cheating on their husbands? And why was Eleanor Roosevelt serving hot dogs to the King and Queen of England? American history was never this much fun in school!

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cormac O’Brian is the author of Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents and Secret Lives of the Civil War. He lives with his wife in New Jersey.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2051 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594744327
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; Revised edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW7AGY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,806 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First ladies - First rate February 23, 2007
Recently a foreign journalist interviewing George W. Bush asked the President of the United States to turn out his pockets. What an interesting, humanizing thing to ask of the most powerful man on Earth. And exactly the kind of thing that never occurs in the burlesque of today's 24 hour electronic news cycle. The contents of our pockets, those little handy nooks that serve as contingency storage for our day-to-day indispensables, speak wonderful, accessible volumes about us as people. Show me what you have in your pockets and, whether or not I know WHO you are, I get a glimpse what KIND of person you are. In Secret Lives of the First Ladies, Cormac O'Brien has politely turned out the pockets of the spouses of each of our presidents, and it's a neat-o treasure trove he uncovers. His style is neither lewd nor exploitative, though, to be sure, there's plenty of juicy stuff here. His project is a sort of cameo portraiture of some forty seven intriguing and often remarkable women. The only flattery in these portraits is a consistent, entertaining, and often astounding disclosure of each woman's individual humanity. It is tempting to read the book in little chunks (as I did at first) owing to its concise chaptering. However, it's a real pleasure go back and review long stretches, watching how the public appearance of the First Lady has evolved over time while her private role has remained remarkably consistent: she is the president's wife. Which is to say, sometimes she is a loving yet diminutive spousal anchor and sometimes she is a headstrong engine of scandal and outrage. Sometimes she is a fully enfranchised partner in even the weightiest decision-making at the executive mansion, including public policy. Read more ›
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars oddly interesting, sometimes heartless September 14, 2005
This book is loaded with factual information, and yet, somewhere in the midnight hours reading about Ida McKinley, my compassion for her far exceeded the author's glib summation of her life. There seems to be too much twentyfirst century historical judgment and bias.

For example, take Ida McKinley, who apparently during the second year of her marriage lost her mother, her second child after a difficult delivery, and two years later had her remaining daughter die of typhoid fever. And we think Hillary might have had a rough time. Well, Ida got "the falling sickness" or epilepsy, and the author's summation that "Two things, however, are certain: doctors could do little for her beyond sedation, using narcotics to put her in a state of semiconsciousnes that made her look like the undead; and her husband, bound to his decaying wife by a sublime sense of duty, became, in a fashion, her slave." And who would be chipper with this much personal loss is such a short period of time.

It's an interesting book in a sort of Jeopardy/trivia fashion.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret lives of the First Ladies August 30, 2005
I LOVE this book. It's full of interesting information. I love books like these where you get to learn something. I have given it to two of my friends that are history teachers and they have used some of the information about the first ladies in their lessons. It's something that the kids can find interesting. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in history.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing women, too often overlooked January 22, 2009
This is a follow-up to O'Brien's previous book, Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents, which, while a fascinating book, is a topic that has been covered many times. I have, in fact, two books on this topic, and they both illuminate the hidden idiosyncrasies, character flaws, shining moments of virtue and petty humanity of the 43 Commanders-in-Chief.

It was Abagail Adams who exhorted her husband to, "Remember the ladies," and it seems that O'Brien has done just that. He's given us a nice concise look at the women of the White House, and it's a hell of a read.

It's very easy to forget the First Ladies, and kind of pigeonhole them into the space that reads "President's wife," but to do so would be a great disservice to an amazing group of women.

A lot of people remember Hillary Clinton as being a political powerhouse, a kind of "co-President." But she wasn't the first, by any means. When Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke in 1919, all access to him was controlled by his wife, Edith. She would let no-one in to see him, on the grounds that he was very ill and needed absolute peace and quiet. So, when someone needed something signed by the President, Edith would take it, close the door, and come back a few minutes later with the signed document. The question very quickly arose: who's really the President?

Helen Taft is another forgotten First Lady firebrand. Without her motivation, William Howard Taft might have been perfectly happy to be a judge, but that wasn't good enough for Helen. From her teenage years, she knew that she wanted to live in the White House, and she pushed her husband to make damn sure that she did.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars oregonmommy June 16, 2006
If you like trivia, you'll enjoy this book. If you have only enough time to read short chapters or a few pages at a time, again, you'll like this book. Each chapter, which is about one first lady, is only a few pages in length -- perfect for bedtime reading for tired moms like me. There was enough information about each first lady to pique my interest, and make me want to find more in-depth biographies about many of the women.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a really good, fast read
This was a really good, fast read. Mr. O'Brien has a wonderful sense of humor that made the book even better. I recommend, especially if you love history.
Published 16 days ago by Doobie
5.0 out of 5 stars In treating!
I picked this book for the light hearted look at the "first ladies". I found it to be humorous and interesting. Hard to put down. Great insight at these ladies of history. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit light on content.
Not as interesting as it could be. If one needs nighttime, sleep inducing reading, this is the book for that person.
Published 21 days ago by C. Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
It was well written with little tidbits of information about each First Lady. I loved all the humorous quips that the author slid in to make it more fun to read.
Published 1 month ago by Joy L. Childress
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fun read of the women behind the men.
Published 1 month ago by kathleen r. wren
4.0 out of 5 stars From the inside of the White House
Interesting book. I enjoyed it very much and it was enlightening to peek behind the White House doors. If you enjoy history you will enjoy this book
Published 2 months ago by June Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars as interesting as the title
Very easy to read, full of tid bits of history I did not know. Enjoyed picking it up
every day. Some of the juicy facts I did remember. Just silly things; like Mrs. Read more
Published 2 months ago by lady jane in va.
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book
Very interesting reading. I really like history and people stories and this book kept my interest.
Published 2 months ago by Tess
5.0 out of 5 stars First Ladies at their best.
Fun quirky stories about the ladies who support, advise, and put up with our Nation's president's. An interesting read if you are a history buff.
Published 2 months ago by Kelly K
5.0 out of 5 stars First Ladies Visit
We were able to visit the First Ladies exhibit at the Hoover Presidential Library in September 2014, what a treat. Nice to be able to read this book also.
Published 2 months ago by Ruth Miille
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More About the Author

Cormac O'Brien has published books on everything from natural disasters to U.S. presidents, from ancient empires to the American Civil War, bringing a distinctive voice to chapters of the human story that are as fascinating as they are significant. He has spoken at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and made appearances on NPR, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, and other venues. Born and raised in western New York State, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.

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