Synopses & Reviews
Betty Boyd Caroli's engrossing and informative First Ladies
is both a captivating read and an essential resource for anyone interested in the role of America's First Ladies. This expanded and updated fourth edition includes Laura Bush's tenure, Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid, and an in-depth look at Michelle Obama, one of the most charismatic and appealing First Ladies in recent history.
Covering all forty-one women from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama and including the daughters, daughters-in-law, and sisters of presidents who sometimes served as First Ladies, Caroli explores each woman's background, marriage, and accomplishments and failures in office. This remarkably diverse lot included Abigail Adams, whose "remember the ladies" became a twentieth-century feminist refrain; Jane Pierce, who prayed her husband would lose the election; Helen Taft, who insisted on living in the White House, although her husband would have preferred a judgeship; Eleanor Roosevelt, who epitomized the politically involved First Lady; and Pat Nixon, who perfected what some have called "the robot image." They ranged in age from early 20s to late 60s; some received superb educations for their time, while others had little or no schooling. Including the courageous and adventurous, the emotionally unstable, the ambitious, and the reserved, these women often did not fit the traditional expectations of a presidential helpmate.
Here then is an engaging portrait of how each First Lady changed the role and how the role changed in response to American culture. These women left remarkably complete records, and their stories offer us a window through which to view not only this particular sorority of women, but also American women in general.
"Impressive...Caroli's profiles and observations of American first ladies and their relationship to the media are intelligent and perceptive." --Philadelphia Inquirer
Praise for the original edition:
"Impressive.... Caroli's profiles and observations of American first ladies and their relationship to the media, are intelligent and perceptive."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Many fascinating sidelights on history.... The succession of First Ladies makes on the whole a dignified parade in her account."--Newsday
"An insightful collective portrait."--American History Illustrated
"Anyone curious about the politics of the changing roles of women in our social history will find much to ponder here."--The Washington Monthly
andquot;Although Nebraska has honored George W. Norris by inducting him into the Nebraska Hall of Fame, naming school districts and public power districts for him, and preserving his McCook home, this book will help Nebraskans and others remember why.andquot;andmdash;James E. Potter, Nebraska History
andquot;George Norris, Going Home reveals Norris as an energetic visionary who fought passionately for the improvement of everyday American life for all citizens. This portrayal serves as a timely reminder of how much a good politican can accomplish.andquot;andmdash;Travis Amundson, Nebraska Life
"Nebraskans need to remember George Norris. He truly was one of our great citizens. This book is a very enjoyable journey through those memories."and#8212;Francis Moul, Lincoln Journal Star
and#8220;A remarkable account of the life of one of the most influential politicians in the last hundred years. . . . His extraordinary achievements for all American people offer a rare glimpse at what can be achieved when people and politicians put aside narrow interests. . . . Budig and Walton have produced a short and powerful document that draws on the reflections of the Senator and others who knew him at the end of his life. It would serve us well if a copy of this book were in every school library across the country.and#8221;and#8212;Richard Sterling, former president of the National Writing Commission
tells the story of one of our nation's most curious institutions, watching the role as it has evolved from ceremonial backdrop to its current place as substantive world figure. This expanded and updated edition brings us up to the present, examining the lives and roles of our most recent First Ladies: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush. Reaching back to our first, Martha Washington, Betty Boyd Caroli explores the background, marriage, accomplishments and failures in office of every woman who has served as First Lady--which in some cases included the daughters, daughters-in-law, and sisters of presidents.
In new and expanded entries, Caroli focuses her keen critical eye on investigate the acts, advocacies, successes, shortcomings, and legacies of Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Following all of her trials and triumphs, from unwelcome White House upstart to praiseworthy U.S. Senator, Caroli captures the essence of Hillary Clinton. She awards Clinton due credit for the influence she added to the position of First Lady, explores with an unflinching eye the suffering Clinton endured, and praises her as stalwart role model to women around the globe. In an entirely new entry, Caroli introduces Laura Bush as a woman of independent thought and action, a former teacher who earned a master's of library science. She shows that Bush is one who eschews political action but is nonetheless passionately committed to enriching education and boosting literacy through reading programs and literacy campaigns.
Depicting how each of the remarkable women who have served alongside our presidents have employed the "magic wand" given to them, Caroli reveals not only how each First Lady changed the role, but also how the role changed in response to American culture. In publicizing their accounts and stories, Caroli grants an insider's view on their lives, and also on the history of American women at large.
After forty years of congressional service, five terms in the House and five in the Senate, George William Norris (1861and#8211;1944) was going home to Nebraska. Norris had lost the 1942 Senate race and felt the defeat keenly. But as his train rolled westward, he was forcefully reminded of what his legislative efforts had wrought, from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to the Rural Electrification Act (REA), which brought power to the land unfolding before him. It is here that authors Gene A. Budig and Don Walton begin their journey with this great statesman, perhaps the last progressive Republican, a tireless champion of and#8220;public powerand#8221; and the common man.
This book carries readers back through Norrisand#8217;s career and accomplishments: the establishment of the TVA and the REA as well as the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution and the shaping of Nebraskaand#8217;s unique unicameral legislature. Norris recalls the battles he waged, one of which landed him in John F. Kennedyand#8217;s Profiles in Courage, and the alliances he formed with leading political figures of his day, from Fiorello La Guardia to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The result is a contemporary perspective on a man who fiercely defended the public interest and followed his convictions to the lasting benefit of his state and his country.
About the Author
Gene A. Budig has served as president of Illinois State University and West Virginia University and as chancellor at the University of Kansas. He is the author of numerous books, including Grasping the Ring: Nine Unique Winners in Life and Sports
, available in a Bison Books edition. Don Walton is a political writer for the Lincoln Journal Star
Table of Contents
1. Setting Precendents: The First President's Wives
2. Young Substitutes for First Ladies
3. Three Exceptions: Sarah Childress Polk, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Julia Dent Grant
4. The Limited Promise of the "New Woman"
5. The Office of the First Lady: A Twentieth Century Development
6. The Paradoxical 1920s
7. Breaking Precedents and Reaffirming Old Ones
8. The Turbulent Sixties
9. New Dimensions to the Job of First Lady
10. A New Generation in the White House
11. Presidential Wives and the Press
12. "The Women They Married..."
13. (TKTK) Hilary Runs for President
14. (TKTK) The Obamas