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First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies
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First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  7,554 ratings  ·  1,079 reviews
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the groundbreaking backstairs look at the White House, The Residence, comes an intimate, news-making look at the true modern power brokers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the First Ladies, from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

One of the most underestimated—and challenging—positions in the world, the First Lady of the United St
Hardcover, 380 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Harper
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Rita I listened to it and just finished it. The back and forth nature of the account is disconcerting at first but I got used to it and found many interest…moreI listened to it and just finished it. The back and forth nature of the account is disconcerting at first but I got used to it and found many interesting facts in it.(less)

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Very interesting! The only thing that really kept it from being 4 stars was the jumping back and forth in time. I sometimes found it slightly hard to follow.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, non-fiction
2.5 stars but I rounded down. I was really disappointed in this book, given how much I enjoyed her first book, The Residence. This was just a lot of gossip with very little insight. The author clearly has her favorites among the women she profiles and she lets this affect how she portrays them. Based on this book, Lady Bird Johnson is destined for sainthood, with Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford close behind. Pat Nixon is a sympathetic martyr. She seems to be a bit ambiguous or ambivalent about Bar ...more
Mariah Roze
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable book and I learned a ton about the first ladies! I highly suggest :)

"One of the most underestimated—and challenging—positions in the world, the First Lady of the United States must be many things: an inspiring leader with a forward-thinking agenda of her own; a savvy politician, skilled at navigating the treacherous rapids of Washington; a wife and mother operating under constant scrutiny; and an able CEO responsible for the smooth operation of countless services and
In 2015 I started a project of reading biographies and memoirs about first ladies. I have managed to read most of the biographies except a few hard to find ones. I also learned that the rule book says first ladies is not to be capitalized. This book about the first ladies covers the first ladies from Kennedy to Obama and was published in 2017.

The book does not cover the first ladies chronologically but by topic. Under that topic the author may tell about each of the first ladies or only a few. A
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was so interesting and put together well. I enjoy that the author did not seperate the women by the years they served but told their stories together. This is not a history book but the stories of living breathing people. As stated in the book this is a group of very extraordinary women.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, read-in-2017
This book details the White House lives of modern First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy through Michelle Obama. Each woman is profiled from the time their husbands became involved in politics and continues through their time as a "Former First Lady". The book shows the good, the bad, and the ugliness of the job and on the attitudes of each lady. Some of the women became quite close, while others seem to simply tolerate their peers. Each woman brings their own attitude and charm to the White House and ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
I just read the ratings info and some reviews for this book. Every review I read rated it 4 or 5 stars, then commented on all the things I disliked: lack or organizizing principles, extreme repetitiveness, gossip, etc. I found the sources and notes also were not well documented. The book seems to purport to be serious reporting, but many other reviewers describe it as entertaining. I can't call it entertaining as it seems too disingenuous for that. I'm sorry I was stuck with it for holiday weeke ...more
Lois R. Gross
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I am a l ways interested in historical books, this collective biography of was my c u p of tea. These are the post-war first ladies. Mamie Eisenhower was mentioned but not in a good way. She was boorish and actually cruel to Jackie Kennedy, forcing her to walk the WHite House two weeks after a cesarean section. From Jackie forward, the women's personalities are distinct and defined. All were much stronger than their public persona. Each endured unfair public scrutiny. Surprisingly, Lady Bi ...more
Choppy train-of-thought writing and often repetitive, this book lacks the scholarship or organization the subject matter demands. The tone tinged of gossip.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ipad, flotus
Insights into the modern era First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy through Michelle Obama. The role of the First Lady is not precast, but rather something that is shaped by each woman who has occupied the White House. The book offers really interesting insights about the relationship between this elite group of women, their motivations, orientation to and challenges with life as a public figure not of their own choosing, and the enormous pressure which each endured.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a glimpse into the lives of 10 former First Ladies from a unique perspective. It did not give us their history chronologically. Rather it delved into these ladies and their relationships with their husbands, with the people in their administration, with White House staff, with their own families, and with each other. It showed glimpses of some more than other and was done from a political perspective, a public personna, their imprint on the White House, etc. I learned so much about thes ...more
3.5 stars. Super interesting look at the First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. A couple of things stood out. 1) The author makes it very clear that Michelle Obama DOES NOT like being First Lady. 2) Jackie Kennedy basically created the image of Camelot; it was a very manufactured image. 3) It seems like many of the women who were the most dedicated to their husbands were wives who were treated most disrespectfully by them (Jackie Kennedy, Pat Nixon, Lady Bird Johnson). I guess it ma ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book. Unfortunately it was just on much information for me. It dragged and the chapters were long. It was very interesting but it was just a lot. I'd love to see a condensed version. ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I’m going to share with you my favorite story from the book.

Nancy Reagan was not a pleasant person. She didn’t like her husband to interact with the White House residence staff, who she considered “the help.” She would demand certain flowers for the White House that would have to be flown in from other continents. Days before State dinners she would come up with elaborate desserts and expect chefs to literally work day and night to complete them. And her treatment of Barbara Bush would best be d
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I had a hard time with this book at first. It seemed really chaotic and unstructured. I still can't figure out the organizing principle from one chapter to the next and the abrupt transitions didn't help either. I think that might largely be because I listened to this book. And as I've learned, I'm a visual person, so if I read it with my eyes, I likely would have had more success understanding what the theme was from one chapter to the next. (Plus, I likely would have loved the no doubt, awesom ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting book about the relationships between the First Ladies from Mamie Eisenhower to Michelle Obama. Like those relationships between former presidents, the book provides thoughtful insight on how they supported each other, their generational differences, their commitment to their husband's political ambitions, and the various personality quirks that impacted those relationships. It is a small, but unique look at history through the eyes of these women. The book, at time, seems unfocuse ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5. It was quite an intresting read about first ladies of the US, a lot of information that people may not realise is published in this book. It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it but it is a compilation about classy women.
This was an impulsive audiobook listen & probably not something I would normally choose. It had some interesting bits but skipped back and forth in time enough to be annoying. While I felt more sympathy for some presidents and their wives after reading this, my opinion of others actually decreased.

Beginning with Jackie Kennedy - I mean it's impossible to say anything negative about Jackie - this book looks at the 'elite sorority' of first ladies. I was shocked by Lady Bird Johnson's unfailing lo
LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)
I liked the content of the book, for the most part. I didn't know much about former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Rosalynn Carter, and Betty Ford, so it was interesting to learn about their times in the White House. However, I felt this book had a kind of gossipy and catty tone at times that I did not really appreciate. A lot was mentioned about "well this First Lady didn't like that one" which I just did not find necessary to tell the story. I also felt that the writing had a bit o ...more
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
I read the audio book and first I want to mention the narrator because so many of the reviewers disliked her. I do not agree with those reviewers. I liked Ms. White's conversational manner. I felt as though we were sitting over beverages sharing knowledge. It was a simple, quiet and intimate conversation about the first ladies. I loved it. One caveat: I listen (always) at 1.5 speed or faster so perhaps that helped.

This book was a lovely introduction into a subject I knew little about and has ins
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Though politics evokes a great deal of anxiety in me, I am constantly listening to and reading about it as I find it endlessly fascinating. However, given my constant immersion in the topic and discussion of American Politics, it becomes easy to assume that those who are part of opposing parties or political beliefs are inherently antagonistic with and towards one another. This book provides a peek behind the veil and demonstrates that respect and even friendship can exist among those who politi ...more
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.50. A great look at the "modern" first ladies starting with Jackie and moving straight through to Michelle. The book has a great flow of information often weaving one woman's legacy or experience with another first lady's experience. I enjoyed this very much. ...more
3.75 interesting stars.

The first 35% of the book was pretty up & down as far as holding my interest. Fortunately it did pick up the pace about 40ish% in.

If you're worried about partisanship, being as unbiased as I can be I'd say it definitely has a more left leaning slant, but in my opinion tries to be as factual, complimentary & critical of nearly every First Lady it discusses.

My biggest complaint of the book may actually be an asset to many. I didn't like the constant bouncing around from on
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I so enjoyed this! I didn’t know much about the First Ladies, so it was great to hear about their backstories and struggles, as well as their different experiences in the White House. It’s important to remember, regardless of political party, this women and their husbands are people.

I couldn’t quite follow how Brower meant to structure this, but it kept my interest throughout. Def recommend!
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the personal stories. Each woman is complicated, and it really helped me to like certain ones even more.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Not impressed with this one. I just felt that there was too much gossip and not enough facts. I enjoyed her other book (The Residence) much more.
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such a good and easy read about our first ladies from Jackie to Michelle; parts were like a trip back though my memories of our history. Bless these women. Regardless of what you think of their husbands, or the public persona of these women; you will gain a new respect for them and for the job of being 'first lady'. I did chuckle to myself when reading about Mrs. Clinton and her famous, "Stand by my man" quote. Hillary, you did stand by your man just like the Tammy Wynett song. All these ladies ...more
Melinda Elizabeth
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
At best, a three star rating is generous. I have to say that I didn't agree with the structure of the chapters, that tied the First Ladies together through particular themes (e.g. managing conflict) rather than an in depth look at each First Lady and their term in the White House.

There's also a lot of repetition in this book, I'm thinking there was a particular word count to achieve with the book and so there were some well used sentences that turned up again and again throughout the chapters t
Beth Daane
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book very much, but struggled at times with the bouncing around of stories. I found the stories funny and interesting. I wanted more and this inspired me to research the First Ladies more.
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good continuation of her previous book The Residence. Maybe I just read them too closely together but there were a few too many repeated stories. Very enlightening never-the-less.
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Kate Andersen Brower is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller THE RESIDENCE and the New York Times bestseller FIRST WOMEN, as well as FIRST IN LINE, TEAM OF FIVE, and the children’s book EXPLORING THE WHITE HOUSE. She is a CNN contributor and she has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Time. She spent four years covering the Obama White House for Bloomberg ...more

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