Presidential Wives: An Anecdotal History
Title: Presidential Wives: An Anecdotal History
By: Paul F. Boller
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Cover Price: 12.95
Pages: 544 pages
Plot: As his previous books Presidential Anecdotes and Presidential Campaigns clearly prove, Paul F. Boller, Jr. has a remarkable eye for the telling details that vitalize and humanize history. Presidential Wives brings that gift to bear on the women our Presidents married by offering a poignant, amusing, dramatic, and illuminating biographical feast which covers every First Lady from Martha Washington to Nancy Reagan. These vivid and entertaining pages offer encounters with Dolley Madison, whose 'unfortunate propensity to snuff-taking' eventually had Washington's other women doing the same; Mary Todd Lincoln, whose harsh opinions of so many of her husband's appointments led him to tell her, 'If I listened to you, I should soon be without a cabinet'; and Eleanor Roosevelt, who lamented on the night of FDR's election to his first term that she would no longer have her own identity and then became the greatest of all the women activists to occupy the White House. As with his earlier books, Boller devotes a chapter to each of his subjects, including a biographical essay followed by a selection of revealing anecdotes. Portraying a diverse group of women--shrinking violets, passionate partisans, spotlight-loving hostesses, and devoted helpmates who remained silent in public but actively advised their husbands in private--Boller once again delightfully demonstrates how much the institution of the presidency and all that surrounds it tell us about ourselves as a nation.