As Margaret Truman knows from firsthand experience, living in the White House can be exhilarating and maddening, alarming and exhausting–but it is certainly never dull. Part private residence, part goldfish bowl, and part national shrine, the White House is both the most important address in America and the most intensely scrutinized. In this splendid blend of the personal and historic, Margaret Truman offers an unforgettable tour of “the president’s house” across the span of two centuries.
Opened (though not finished) in 1800 and originally dubbed a “palace,” the White House has been fascinating from day one. In Thomas Jefferson’s day, it was a reeking construction site where congressmen complained of the hazards of open rubbish pits. Andrew Jackson’s supporters, descending twenty thousand strong from the backwoods of Kentucky and Tennessee, nearly destroyed the place during his first inaugural. Teddy Roosevelt expanded it, Jackie Kennedy and Pat Nixon redecorated it. Through all the vicissitudes of its history, the White House has transformed the characters, and often the fates, of its powerful occupants.
In The President’s House , Margaret Truman takes us behind the scenes, into the deepest recesses and onto the airiest balconies, as she reveals what it feels like to live in the White House. Here are hilarious stories of Teddy Roosevelt’s rambunctious children tossing spitballs at presidential portraits–as well as a heartbreaking account of the tragedy that befell President Coolidge’s young son, Calvin, Jr. Here, too, is the real story of the Lincoln Bedroom and the thrilling narrative of how first lady Dolley Madison rescued a priceless portrait of George Washington and a copy of the Declaration of Independence before British soldiers torched the White House in 1814.
Today the 132-room White House operates as an exotic combination of first-class hotel and fortress, with 1,600 dedicated workers, an annual budget over $1 billion, and a kitchen that can handle anything from an intimate dinner for four to a reception for 2,400. But ghosts of the past still walk its august corridors–including a phantom whose visit President Harry S Truman described to his daughter in eerie detail.
From the basement swarming with reporters to the Situation Room crammed with sophisticated technology to the Oval Office where the president receives the world’s leaders, the White House is a beehive of relentless activity, deal-making, intrigue, gossip, and of course history in the making. In this evocative and insightful book, Margaret Truman combines high-stakes drama with the unique perspective of an insider. The ultimate guided tour of the nation’s most famous dwelling, The President’s House is truly a national treasure.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The President's House|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The President's House
Chapter OneMagic and Mystery in a Unique Place
The last time I was in Washington, D.C., I walked by the White House on the way to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Hidden floodlights made the historic building glow like a mansion in a vision or a dream. Suddenly I thought: I am not the woman who lived in that house more than fifty years ago. She is a completely different person. I barely know her.
The words whispered in my mind like a voice from another world. I was remembering, or trying to remember, what it meant to be the daughter of the president of the United States, living in that shining shimmering house. The one inescapable thing I recalled was the difference. I have lived in several houses and apartments, and spent some time in splendid establishments, including a few royal palaces. But not one of them-or all of them together-can compare to the feeling I recalled from my White House days.
That was when I resolved to write this book about one of the most mysterious, terrifying, exalting, dangerous, fascinating houses in the world. It is a house that has changed people in amazing, unexpected ways. It is a house that has broken hearts and minds. It is a house that has made some people weep when they walked out the door for the last time-and others feel like escapees from a maximum security prison. Some marriages have been saved within those pristine white walls. Others have been irrevocably ruined.
Children have played marvelously clever games inside and outside this unique piece of architecture. Other children have twisted and turned in their death throes while their weeping parents, arguably the most powerful pers...