The White House Mess
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The White House Mess

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  742 ratings  ·  67 reviews
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Title: The White House Mess
Author: Buckley, Christopher
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Publication Date: 1995/05/01
Number of Pages:
Binding Type: PAPERBACK
Library of Congress:
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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Mal Warwick
Proof that Republicans Can Tell Funny Stories

Christopher Buckley is a very funny man. I know this not just because I’ve read a few of his books, which generally “kept me in stitches” (whatever that means), but also because I actually spent much of an evening with him a few weeks ago. He’d come to Berkeley to do a “reading” from his newest book, They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, and somehow I’d been invited to introduce him to the audience of about 150 people who were there to hear him. I managed to...more
Joe V
Buckley’s first novel, The White House Mess, is the memoir of Herbert Wadlough, Special Assistant and Deputy Chief of Staff for President Thomas Tucker – Ronald Reagan’s successor in the Oval Office. (The opening Inaugural is priceless and classic Buckley.) Wadlough is a prudish goody two shoes; his favorite exclamation “Oh dear”; and nicknamed “Auntie Herbert”. So he’s the perfect insider to “narrate” this Buckley “satirical spoof”; appropriately “shocked” at his peers’ behavior, particularly t...more
N N
Spoof political memoir written in 1986. The world was monumentally sane then, comparatively speaking, so one feels this barely scratched the surface of the genre. But hilarious in its limited way.
Elizabeth
The White House Mess by Christopher Buckley (pp. 224)
One of Buckley’s earliest novels is a clear miss. While microscopic bits of the satirical style that makes his later novels such fun are evidenced in this work, they are few and far between. This may be because the material is just too close to his personal experience as a White House aide. The main character, Herb Wadlough, is a long time friend and now advisor to the President. The White House Mess is supposed to be a personal memoir of his...more
Jack
Not nearly as witty as many of Buckley's other books, all of which I have enjoyed hugely, most notably THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. He clearly understands the internecine warfare of egos and perks which fuel the petty daily infighting among the senior White House staff; I am certain he has plenty of well-placed friends who have given him some of the juicier tidbits of Oval Office brawling for influence and access.

But the story and the story-telling are far more cursory than in his past endeavors. Cha...more
Elisabeth Wallace
After completion of this novel, I look forward to reading "Thank you for Smoking," finally. I have had so many terrible experiences with the book to movie, movie to book disparity, that I had been loath to put myself into such a potentially painful situation again. I had never read any of Buckley work prior to this, so the only information I had to go on was how much I liked the movie adaptation of "Thank you."

Speaking of the book to movie translation process, with all it's hazards, I feel that...more
John Lucy
It's not often I suggest books to my parents that aren't about the Civil War. Outside the Civil War we don't share the same tastes. But this book is deliciously hilarious. Anyone who has any interest in reading at all should absolutely love this book and then highly recommend it to all people everywhere.

The fact that Buckley was once involved in White House affairs and hits upon some serious truths about politics and White House politics only lends the story deeper humor. You'll often read this...more
Rebekkila
Inauguration Day 1989: President-elect Tucker's limousine pulls up at the White House to escort President Reagan to the ceremonies. But what greets the incoming president is his first situation of "extreme criticality": Reagan is still in his pajamas. His back is bothering him. He's tired. He just doesn't feel like moving today. In fact, he doesn't; think he'll want to move until spring...So begins Thomas Nelson Tucker's Presidency. And so begins this riotously funny addition to the long line of...more
Scott
Apr 24, 2008 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: West Wing fans
'The Washington Mess' by Christopher Buckley is hilarious. I found myself giggling, chuckling, and several times outright laughing as I read it. If you liked West Wing, I can't recommend this book highly enough. The only way I can describe it is as a hybrid mating of West Wing and well, pick any of the funnier sitcoms of the last half-century.


It opens with a Democratic president-elect arriving at the White House to escort President Reagan to the Inauguration ceremonies. Reagan is still in his pa...more
Claudia
I read Buckley for the snark, and this delivers. A novel pretending to be a memoir of a Chief of Staff to a fictionalized President...it begins with the new President and his 'people' going to the White House to pick up President Reagan for the Inauguration. But Reagan doesn't want to leave. He likes it here...he's sick. He'll be better in the spring.

Herbert Wadlough is a little man, and he sees life in the White House as a little man would -- full of petty revenges, useless chores, back-biting...more
Alan Chen
Just plain awesome. Loaded to the brim with snappy dialogue that translates what press releases might actually be about. Some slow parts, but more than enough to keep you locked in until you reach the end. A hilarious non-partisan send-up of political memoirs, turf battles and government.

The best quotes:

-Trying to streamline the decision making process
-Facilitate spatial automotive requirements in the office of the Chief of Staff
-Exhaling purposefully
-"Request"
-Go out on the road
-You know how it...more
Stefanie
Jun 21, 2011 Stefanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Christopher Buckley
Overall, the White House Mess is an enjoyable political satire pretending wearing the mask of a political memoir. The context would have probably been appreciated more at the time of its original publishing, but Buckley skewers timeless characteristics of politics--governmental and inter-office. Buckley fully inhabits the voice of Herb Wadlough even in the Acknowledgements stating, "I should also thank Christopher Buckley, who rendered editorial assistance in the preparation of the manuscript."...more
ryan parr
Feb 10, 2008 ryan parr rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All
The brilliant Christopher Buckley, who served as the chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush, lampoons the self-serving banalities of political memoirs in an outlandish political satire that is buoyed by unflagging zest. From the inauguration crisis, when President Reagan refused to vacate the White House, to the War on Bermuda, President Thomas N. Tucker (TNT), his staff, movie-star First Lady and incendiary son, Firecracker, run amok from one farce to the next in The White Hous...more
Thesunisburning
It is no secret I like politics. Although this book is slightly dated, many themes can be drawn to current administrations even after the fall of the USSr. I enjoyed the portrayal of the office of the First Lady as well. It was refreshing to see that angle of something many of us forget is human.
Steve Peifer
The funniest piece of political satire ever written. It ruined all political books because he fires and destroys every target. Don't miss this one.
Jim Butler
The man never misses. This one is told as a memoir by the kind of old-friend White House regular who is usually scorned as a freeloader, but has personal value to the president anyway. It’s bright and witty and insightful with a feeling of parody written by one who was an insider. (Buckley was a Vice-President Bush speechwriter, after all. He has redeeming social value in spite of that.) Except for a pretty painful and seemingly endless story about the President’s tiresomely naughty son which d...more
Glenn
3.5 stars. Fictitious "memoir" written by the personal assistant to the new president during the 1989-1993 administration, detailing the crazy happenings in the White House. You wonder what kind of stuff really happens at the White House that we never hear about. On a personal note, part of the story towards the end deals with Navy Orion P-3C aircraft in Bermuda, submarine tracking planes which detect/track enemy subs. In my first job out of college I programmed some of the computers onboard the...more
Sandie Brown
funny as hell, written in 94 but could have been yesterday!
Bookreaderljh
Christopher Buckley novels always make me laugh. Sitting at the beach chuckling and not even caring. His books could be true - they are certainly written like one of many genres. This is the memoir of a presidency from the point of view of a staffer and it reads partly like it could have really happened but otherwise is so tongue in cheek. I think basically, though, I liked it because it was funny. All the possible scenarios that might happen and how the politicos "spin" those situations. It act...more
Jessica
Christopher Buckley is a hilarious, honest, and intelligent author, and "Boomsday" does not disappoint. Buckley writes factually about political jobs and climates. Buckley is amazing at saying, hilariously, what everyone else is too afraid to say. This was the first of Buckley's books that I read, it pokes fun at the less-than-lucid mind of President Reagan as he was leaving the White House. It sounds utterly revolting, but I assure you that Buckley keeps respect and distance to keep the reader...more
Mike
Buckley writes the autobiography of an aide of his President Tucker who comes into office after President Reagan. You basically follow through his term in office and the catastrophes and calamities that occur during it. All the bucking for power and access are probably pretty close to how it realy happens...with childlike nonsense throughout. Not the best effort from Buckley. This is almost too tongue-in-cheek. If I hadn't read a number of others books by Buckley that I've loved I likely wouldn'...more
Niall519
I kept waiting for it to get funny. All the superlative reviews on the cover were just a wee bit of an over-sell. Mildly amusing at best.
Lauren
White House Mess is yet another scathing political satire from Christopher Buckley and is a quick, fun read. The plot is outlandish and the characters (and their names!) are over the top, in typical Buckley fashion. It is presented as a fictional memoir by a high level White House staff member and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. But it wasn't the most polished of his books and it's obvious that this is one of Buckley's earlier novels, as his later novels are even sharper.
Carla
All of Buckley's novels are smart and very funny (and occasionally crude and profane) and really do skewer anyone and everyone who lives 'inside the Beltway"they are even funnier if you ever did live in DC or just follow it closely. I think my favorites are "Thank you for Smoking"," Boomsday" (surprisingly topical with the health care debates) and White house Mess. His tour de force though, has to be his most recent- his memoir, Losing Mum and Pup.
Suleman Ali
The White House Mess is a witty and fun 'fictional political memoir' of Herbert Wadlough, aide to the President.

Enjoyable 'memoir' taking you through the heady days of winning the election through all the ups and downs of political office and ending with the inevitable defeat after 4 tumultuous years in office!

Another classic from Buckley, showing the less glamourous side of US politics. Sure it might have aged, but the wit and humour prevail.
Katie
A great book to read as I visited Washington DC. It was a little dated because it was set in the early 1990's, but it was still very funny. It was a fictional memoir of the personal assistant to a president whose administration goes completely awry despite good intentions. Hopefully, most of it is fictional because a lot of the characters in this book were very inept! A good vacation read that made me laugh out loud.
Kevin
Was looking to read something funny to distract me. I usually like Buckley's writing but this was just okay. Nothing close to Thank You for Smoking, which was brilliant. The book was also a little dated - written in 1986, it was clearly a satire of all the Reagan administration officials who were writing memoirs before his presidency even ended and trying to make themselves look good. Good, not great.
Sandy
The first of his satirical novels (published in 1986), this one is a faux memoir by a high-level White House staffer, poking fun at every aspect of presidential power struggles. Although the satire is deliciously wicked, the petulant tone of the narrator becomes grating, and I didn’t enjoy this one as much as “No Way to Treat a First Lady” (2002) or “Boomsday” (2007).
Lisa Melby
Sep 16, 2008 Lisa Melby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a good laugh, especially in this political year.
Recommended to Lisa by: Found on a "bargain book" table
I laughed so hard I cried at several points. I highly recommend this book, especially if you think that many aspects of politics are ridiculous.

My favorite parts include the Inaugural debacle when President Reagan doesn't "feel like" leaving the White House, The planning of the meeting with Fidel Castro and the "incident" at the White House swimming pool.

Artem Huletski
Роман в форме мемуаров Герберта Вадлоу, близкого советника президента Такера (хронологически он должен быть расположен между Рейганом и Бушем-старшим). Механика работы в Белом доме, и Бермудский кризис под занавес (легко проглядываются параллели с Карибским - островной революционер при поддержке Советского союза).
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Christopher Buckley graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1976. He shipped out in the Merchant Marine and at age 24 became managing editor of Esquire magazine. At age 29, he became chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Since 1989 he has been founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life magazine.

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“Let's look at this rationally...We've got a doctor who may kill him, an Attorney General who wants to declare him bananas, and a Defense Secretary who wants me to start World War III...First, we ruled out starting World War III. We were down to killing the President or having him carted off by the men in white coats...” 1 likes
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