Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2017
J.B. West was Chief Usher at the White House through the administrations of FDR to the beginning of Richard Nixon's tenure. In the beginning the Chief Usher was the man in charge of ushering in visitors to see the President. But, in the modern day he is basically the over-all director of the White House. Somewhat like the butler in Downton Abbey, he directs each of the various heads of departments who help the First Lady run the White House as a home, historical museum and office for the President. He works very closely with each First Lady and somehow magically makes everything she desires come to fruition. He also is in charge of a rather large budget but he still must budget the money. J.B. West seemed to enjoy and like each First Lady. Some the reader can tell he favors over others but his respect for them all is clear. It was interesting to learn that Mamie Eisenhower hated the furniture from the B. Altman department store which was chosen by a committee after the rebuilding of the White House in the Truman administration. She was appalled that it was so historically poor and she wished to make the White House an historically accurate home but she was stymied by the budget restraints. And then Jacqueline Kennedy came in and galvanized a private donor plan and was able to do what Mamie wanted to do. It was also interesting to note that President John Kennedy was very involved in the restoration. He also gives some background into their private lives with subtle grace by divulging that Eleanor Roosevelt slept in a single bed in a room that had been a "dressing room" previously and her best friends were permanent houseguests sleeping in adjacent bedrooms and that Mamie Eisenhower immediately requested a king-size bed for herself and Ike. Overall it is a wonderful, readable, entertaining look at First Ladies and their families through the eyes of a very familiar servant.
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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
4,544 customer ratings