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Presidential Wives: An Anecdotal History
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Presidential Wives: An Anecdotal History

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  83 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In Presidential Wives, Paul Boller brings his gift for telling detail to bear on the women our Presidents married, and the result is a biographical feat--at once funny and poignant, dramatic and illuminating, covering every First Lady from Martha Washington to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Boller devotes a full chapter to each of his subjects, featuring an incisive biographical ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published February 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1988)
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Jul 09, 2015 Jimyanni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This was an entertaining and informative book, giving the reader a quick look at the wives of all of the presidents up through Ronald Reagan. Note that it very specifically is biographies of "presidential wives", NOT "first ladies"; it includes bios even of those women who had been wives of presidents who had died before their husbands became president. (Interestingly, it does NOT have a bio of Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan's first wife. Perhaps this is because their marriage ended in divorce, rathe ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Sarai rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very interesting. It went into detail about each of the presidential wives, even if they were not alive during their husband's presidential terms. Some had scant information, but many had lots of stories and anecdotes.

I have two comments to make: 1) the book needs to be updated - it ends with Hilary Clinton; 2) there should be photos included. Obviously, they would have to be photos of paintings for the women further back, but it would have been so nice to see, where ava
One rarely thinks of them as anything but shadowy figures and yet they were persons, with minds and personalities, each and all. Few are known independantly with the exceptions of Eleanor Roosevelt who played her husband's ear and ambassador on many occasions in places in or out of US, and of course Jacqueline Kennedy who brought style to white house so much so French were charmed with her. This book tell about them and others.
Shawn Thrasher
Jan 04, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it liked it
A friend borrowed my copy of this book about 15 years ago, and he's still borrowing it. I found this particular copy in a Friends of the Library used book sale, and snatched it up for a buck. I'm a sort of First Lady-aphile; I love First Lady stories and histories. Although this one is not as good as Carl Sferrazza Anthony's well written and well researched books on the same subjects, this is an easy and fun place to start in boning up on First Lady histories. Boller does a great job of bringing ...more
Chip Supanich
May 29, 2012 Chip Supanich rated it it was ok
A piece of tripe. I usually read about presidents, but picked this up for light reading at a used book store for next to nothing, which is what it is worth. Other than learning their names, I found this to be a sugar coated, Sunday best, pack of crap. It gave the blandest accounts and always erred on the side of conservativeness and propriety. I want to know the dirt and have learned the dirt by reading the accounts of their husbands' lives. The descriptions were consistently dry and lackluster. ...more
Not so good as Presidential Anecdotes because there is, of course, much less material on some of these people, but quite a thumping read nonetheless. Made me realize how much I dislike JFK.
Aug 02, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it
One of my retirement goals is to read the American History through the president's wives story. This book provied a great overview of each of the presidents wives Martha Washington through Nancy Reagan.

A few interesting trivia highlights:

Abaigal Adams (1744 - 1818) started the annual Easter Egg Roll party. I had no idea the event started so early in American's history.

Abigail Fillmore (1799 - 1853) started the White House Library.

Dolly Madison (1768 - 1830) First Lady for a half- century. She
Vivian Valvano
Aug 11, 2013 Vivian Valvano rated it did not like it
1. Boring - for each wife that I read about, there was either nothing new/nothing that I didn't know before - or nothing that interested me.
2. Very poorly written.
I didn't read every entry. We're doing it for LIT book group, and we agreed to read a sampling. I advise anyone interested in reading about any presidential wife whom one thinks is worth reading about to read solid historical biographies, autobiographies or memoirs, or collected letters. (The letters of Abigail and John Adams, for exa
This book is "an anecdotal history" of the wives of the US Presidents up to Nancy Reagan. Some women loved the lime-light, some hated it. Some pushed their husbands into the presidency, some didn't want them in politics at all. Some expected life in the White House to be like living in a palace, while others wanted to be as simple as living in a regular house. The most interesting thing I got from this book is how the various couples worked together and helped each other. Great insight into how ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Elyse rated it really liked it
I found this book a refreshing break from my presidential biography reading project. (I'm in the middle of a detailed history of Franklin Pierce so I haven't gotten far yet.) Rather than picking apart the politics of each president, this book highlights the personal life of the White House inhabitants. Yes, most of the First Ladies were "helpers" rather than unpaid presidential policy advisors but that role is a recent development. The earlier First Ladies shouldn't be expected to live up to tod ...more
Mar 21, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I read the first edition of this book. It is the first of this sort that I am reading. I really enjoyed it.
A great majority of the book is taken from letters, personal accounts and journal entries. Each first lady gets a chapter. There are first ladies that I admire and others that I do not. This book has turned my thoughts to the history of politics in our country.

A truly facinating read. What a great find. It is a book to buy.
Jul 26, 2012 Cathi rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It was fun to read all sorts of little quirky anecdotes about the First Ladies, and the general life stories of each woman and her husband were fascinating. I expecially enjoyed learning more about our less-famous First Ladies.
Jun 18, 2008 Jenben8426 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, adult
The writer has done an excellent job in creating quick easy to read biographies of each of the Presidents wives. I really enjoyed learning about each of the personalities of the First Ladies.
Dec 13, 2008 Ginna rated it it was ok
This book was ok, the first ladies did tend to run together and I did skip some of the lesser known ones. I did like reading about Dolly Madison and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Adrian Jackson
Apr 27, 2015 Adrian Jackson rated it really liked it
It took me many years, but I finally finished! This isn't a book you can curl up with, but it is readable and interesting.
Feb 27, 2009 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Funny and fascinating.
Oct 26, 2007 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
Enjoy presidential trivia.
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