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Secret Lives of the First Ladies

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  589 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
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:
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Quirk Books (first published May 1st 2005)
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Apr 11, 2009 Csquared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this a five star since I'd really only thought this would end up being a good bathroom reader, if you know what I mean. Instead, I found myself rereading my favorite wives or referencing them in conversation. The short excerpts are perfect for a shorter attention span (or a bathroom reader, lol). All the extra insider details read like that favorite history teacher who gave you all the real scoop.
Jean Poulos
This is a great book for gathering trivia information but be forewarned the book mixes facts with gossip. I recently read “Upstairs at the White House” by J. B. West which is West’s memoirs as Chief Usher in charge of the East wing of the White House and the first ladies. West book is all facts. O’Brien’s book covers all of the first ladies to date. The first ladies are a position of marriage and she is not paid for any of her work. The effect the first ladies have on the nation is immense and s ...more
Shawn Davis
Sep 08, 2012 Shawn Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There isn't so much plot in this book as there is anecdote - and yet it still manages to capture attention and flow.

For instance - Martha Washington might have been involved in the death of her first husband's half-brother? It's just not the picture I had in my mind of our first First Lady.

And being as Grover Cleveland wasn't particularly prominent in my childhood education, I hadn't heard the details of his White House marriage.

Really, Grover? Your former ward? The daughter of your best frie
Feb 09, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
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 loo
Barbara M
Jan 07, 2016 Barbara M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read! The author devotes a chapter to each first lady. Basic information is provided about each lady, as well as, unusual little known facts and stories.

Some of the ladies just loved being first lady (especially Dolly Madison) and a few acted like co-presidents with their husbands. I was amused by the number of first ladies who prayed for their husbands NOT to be elected or re-elected. These ladies were not interested in the limelight.

There were some unusual facts revealed about some of th
Jan 19, 2016 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this informative book about the First Ladies of the U.S. In 3-4 pages, you learn about the life of every first lady, how they met their spouse (future President), their legacy in the White House, a few "fun facts," along with their biography stats (DOB-DOD, Children Names, Years of FLOTUS and a famous quote).

It's a great way to cram a few hundred years of knowledge into a few hundred pages - I highly recommend!
Fun, but lacking depth. Each First Lady gets a page or two - I think Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy might get three. It was nice to learn about some of the lesser known First Ladies, but nothing I feel the need to reread. It wouldn't make for a good reference, either, unless all you wanted was a very basic bio and a fun fact or two.
Jessica Berry
Jan 16, 2012 Jessica Berry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subject is very interesting, and I loved how each First Lady was a short section. It'll be one of those books that you can be in the middle of for a long time. Those looking for dirt & gossip will be a little disappointed, it is gives only a little insight into the controversies, but it is only meant to be a very brief overview.
Jun 05, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women and fans of quirky facts
This was a really fun book. It contains short biographies of every woman who has ever been married to a president of the United States, including all kinds of fun and quirky trivia.
Julie Lizcano
This book contains little bios and stories of the president's wives. It is a light and fun way to learn a little unusual history.
Oct 06, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book, especially for bedtime reading because you can simply stop at each president. You will be amazed at what you were never taught. You'll discover so many died young, especially in the 1800s from childbirth, TB, the usual suspects ... and just how quirky some where. (Like hiding in the White House and never being seen in public). But my takeaway was just how many saw the White House as a deathtrap and really never wanted to have anything to do with the presidency. And how many ...more
I am not ashamed to admit that I am a huge fact book junk. I am that person that goes to a museum or on vacation and always ends up coming home with a book of 100o facts about Egypt or everything you didn't know about the Titanic or something else. My French teacher told me that the #1 mistake people make when they're on vacation is buying books, and I just said, "Well, there's really no fixing that problem for me." I embrace it. I love random trivia. I love knowing these little seemingly insig ...more
Feb 20, 2011 Goose rated it really liked it
A fun way to learn a little about each first lady. I was surprised by many facts revealed here. Who knew that so many first ladies bagged a future president as their second husband? Who knew how many first ladies suffered from chronic illness or how many had children that died young? All the facts, whether sad or light-hearted are collected in this extremely readable book. Kudos for including all wives of the presidents even if they didn't make it to the White House due to divorce like Jane Wyma ...more
May 31, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in between going on an adventure which included being sunburnt, island hopping, and left me no time to read this book swiftly enough.

This book is informative. When I read “light” non-fiction such as this, I rate it on accuracy and the ease of reading it. Needless to say, book was very easy to read. There are tiny sections put in boxes containing fun facts about First Ladies.

However, this book needed editing. (It may only be the Kindle edition, but I don't know.) There are some a
Sep 11, 2015 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed learning little snippets about all the first ladies. Each was short so that you got just enough information without getting super tedious. I didn't realize how many of them had absolutely no desire to be first ladies. The book talked about religion, children, and all sorts of trivia. It made me want to learn more about some of them, and not so much about others.
Feb 07, 2016 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Probably more of a 3.5 stars book, but I liked most of it--at least the sections about all of the First Ladies pre-Kennedy. The modern First Lady sections were just flat out less interesting.

Still, the book was generally an easy and fun read. It was a little gossipy at times, but that may be the nature of the format.
Interesting information

Interesting snippets about these ladies who were often times rich and not wanting the job. The factual information was funny, sad and sometimes appeared to be biased like to party lines. I want to read the one on presidents but not back to back with one.
Interesting introduction to all the first ladies, though it's really just fluff, just a handful of pages per first lady. Basically, a great way to get an overview and zero in on who you might be most interested in reading a real full-length biography about.
Mar 08, 2014 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The sections on each of the women were short enough and filled with some good stuff on their lives. Many of the First Ladies might have their own biography book which will be much more detailed so if anyone wants to read more about someone in particular they can go that route. I was happy with these short snippets.
Apr 25, 2015 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh, not that great. Turns out most first ladies just applied gender roles. I like Eleanor Roosevelt though. And, omg, has Hillz not legally changed her name to Clinton?
TOTO from Kansas
Sep 07, 2015 TOTO from Kansas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good read. Not like a history book, but very interesting information.
Sep 30, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself talking about the interesting facts in this book often.
Jul 10, 2010 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
SWE-D Book Club July 2010

Love, love, love. This was such a fun book to read, even if you hate spending your free time reading about American history. It is just so damn fascinating...Lincoln's wife was a shopaholic, one feminist was married to a cheating husband, Laura Bush is a liberal, the wives that were alcholics/drug addicts, pretty much all the wives didn't want their husbands to run for President, etc etc. Great summer read too, as each wife gets about a half dozen the bios on
Oct 26, 2014 Cory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. Oh that Dolly :)
Nov 05, 2015 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A rather interesting set of anecdotes about the first ladies. I really liked Lou Hoover
Jun 24, 2015 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched
Julie E.
Jan 28, 2016 Julie E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book even more than Secret Lives of the Presidents. Lots of interesting stories.
Aug 05, 2013 Rita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as i read the companion book about the presidents. This book provided some interesting information about the first ladies and how some of them really did not want to be living in the White House, how some of them were a real help and confidante to their husbands, and how some of them were very unique and loved or hated by the public during their times as first ladies. Very interesting! Also some humor in this book.
May 26, 2009 Darlis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of mini biographies--just the facts and a few fascinating tales from the lives of these remarkable women, who just happened to marry men who would become president. I am amazed at how interesting, artistic, intellectual these women are and how they flourished behind the scenes. Of course, there are some with challenging circumstances. But this collection is fun to read.
Apr 19, 2007 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've started reading this book too but am waiting until I can give my review of the presidencies my full attention. It really is a lot of fun to read about the presidents and then compare to what it says about the first ladies. Reading both books together is great as one tells the stories strongly from the man's point of view and then very much so from the woman's.
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