Local writers cover the White House
The focus of the following books is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, the most famous address in the world. The authors live in D.C. and Virginia, and two of them have served inside the White House — giving their works a unique perspective.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait, The Historic Presidency in Photographs, by Pete Souza, forward by Barack Obama, 352 pages, more than 300 color photographs, Little, Brown and Company, 10.4 x 1.2 x 12.5 inches, hardcover, 2017
Be an eyewitness to the Obama presidency through the creative camera lens of former Official White House Photographer Pete Souza. Follow the photogenic chief executive through his two terms.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait includes the iconic photographs “hair like mine” and the tension-filled scene in the Situation Room of officials monitoring the raid on Osama bin Laden.
Other treasures are Bo bounding up the stairs of Air Force One, Obama on the basketball court, 44 with his eyes closed in contemplation, and private moments between the President and First Lady. The color photographs in this hefty large-format book are of fine-art quality, printed in Italy.
Souza, a freelance photographer who resides in Arlington, Va., was the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and director of the White House photo office. Previously he worked for the Washington bureau of the Chicago Tribune and was an Official White House Photographer for President Reagan. He has won numerous photojournalism awards. Perusing the book, you’ll understand why.
Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan, by Sheila Tate, 256 pages, 16-page and 8-page inserts of photographs, Crown Forum hardcover, 2018; paperback, April 2019
Sheila Tate, co-founder of the Washington, D.C. public relations firm Tate Powell, has written a loving remembrance of her years as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan. Having served in this capacity during the first term of the Reagan presidency, Tate is positioned to impart informative details about the boss she came to admire.
Lady in Red paints an adoring portrait of Mrs. Reagan, shedding light on the compassionate side of the First Lady. Before interviewing for her position, Tate had never met the First Lady.
Quite remarkable to think that this relationship of trust was quickly formed in the highly pressured environment of the White House. Read how the Washington establishment “welcomes” presidential spouses who come to town from distant parts. Get a glimpse of the glamorous — and not so glamorous — life of our nation’s First Lady.
This book is an attempt to burnish Mrs. Reagan’s place in history. We should all be so fortunate as to have a friend who would remind the world of our good qualities after we’re gone.
Dinner in Camelot: The Night America’s Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House, by Joseph A. Esposito, foreword by Rose Styron, 252 pages, 8-page color and 16-page black and white inserts of illustrations, ForeEdge hardcover, 2018
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
President John F. Kennedy made these remarks on April 29, 1962, at a White House dinner honoring 49 Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere. It has been said that this dinner was the greatest assembly of scientists in White House history.
The grand occasion featuring 175 distinguished guests is the subject of Dinner in Camelot — a book that lovingly evokes the New Frontier, its promise and elegance.
This iconic social event in the brief history of the Kennedy White House forms the basis of a narrative about the life and times of the early 60s. Read again the names of the political, literary and social elite of the day. Eavesdrop on conversations over the French cuisine served at dinner.
Take an intimate tour of the newly renovated White House rooms through which the evening’s events progressed. Find out who was invited by JFK and Jackie to their private quarters upstairs, who headed to the Georgetown after-party, and who formed enduring friendships that special night.
Esposito lives in Virginia and is an adjunct associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College. He has masters’ degrees from, among others institutions, George Mason University, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia.
The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s, by William J. Hitchcock, 672 pages, 16-page insert of black and white photographs, Simon & Schuster paperback, March 2019
Dr. William Hitchcock, Professor of history at the University of Virginia and its Miller Center, has written a well-researched chronology of the eight years of the Eisenhower presidency.
It is the author’s contention that the time has come to re-evaluate Ike and his legacy. The retired Supreme Allied Commander of the Expeditionary Forces in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a popular president as measured by contemporary polls.
He governed at a time of great prosperity domestically, and ended the War in Korea. He won election and re-election by wide margins.
Historians and journalists have not been as laudatory to Eisenhower since he left office. The Age of Eisenhower is an attempt to correct that assessment and put Ike back among the pantheon of important presidents.
Relive the fifties and the political and social issues that were at the forefront of policymakers. Many of these subjects we still grapple with today: foreign policy and international commitments, nuclear proliferation and insurgencies in the Third World, CIA interventions, Korea and Russia, civil rights and equality, as well as the role of the federal government in shaping solutions to problems that are beyond the capability of states and localities to resolve.
Officials, politicians and statesmen buried in the recesses of time are revived and revisited.
Remember the 50s in a fascinating look back to a seemingly more innocent time, and discover the roots of many issues that have bedeviled us ever since.