Book Review: The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White HouseThe Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Paperback Release Date: March 8, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.

These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.

Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.

I love to get the behind the scenes scoop on most everything so I was very excited to read a book about what goes on behind closed doors at the White House. This book offered some scoop but not enough. The problem is that the people who work or have worked at the White House have so much darn discretion! Because of this, the book could get repetitive because the author didn’t have that much information to work with. I still enjoyed the little bit of scoop that I did get. If you are like me, then this book is worth reading.


  • S.G. Wright

    Darn I hate when they have discretion. Like you, I want the dirt on behind the scenes things. Oh well, we get what we can :-)