Inside the Private World of the White House
#1 New York Times bestseller
— The Washington Post
“A revealing look at life inside the White House…it’s Downton Abbey for the White House staff.”
— The Today Show
“If you’ve been geeking out over the details of the Underwoods’ residence on House of Cards, or you loved that centerpiece story line on Sunday’s Veep premiere, prepare to encounter the motherlode: Kate Andersen Brower’s The Residence weaves together the testimonies of dozens of White House employees who see everything.”
“Juicy…[but The Residence] is not all salacious tidbits—though they do make for a fun read. It is also a touching story of the often nameless men and women who toil to make sure that the most stressed out family on Earth can live their lives just a little bit easier.”
— The Daily Beast
“The staff adjusts its routines as the presidential door revolves. It’s these routines that Ms. Brower inventories…The details keep on coming.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“Superbly reported. . . . A fascinating backstage account of the world’s most famous residence.”
— Judy Woodruff, anchor of PBS NewsHour and former White House correspondent for NBC News
“Beautifully written, The Residence offers a unique and compelling view of what really happens inside the very private White House. An absolute must-read!”
— Norah O’Donnell, co-host of CBS This Morning and former chief White House correspondent for CBS News
No one understands the president of the United States, and his family, like the men and women who make the White House run every day. Now, for the first time, their stories of fifty years, ten administrations, and countless crises large and small, are told in The Residence. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with butlers, maids, chefs, florists, doormen, engineers, and others, White House correspondent Kate Andersen Brower offers a group portrait of the dedicated professionals who coordinate the smooth running of elaborate state dinners; stand ready during meetings with foreign dignitaries; care for the president and first lady’s young children; and cater to every need the first couple may have, however sublime or, on occasion, ridiculous.
In the voices of the residence workers themselves—sometimes wry, often affectionate, always gracious and proud—here are stories of:
- The Kennedys, from intimate glimpses of their marriage to the chaotic days after JFK’s assassination
- The Johnsons, featuring the saga of LBJ’s obsession with White House plumbing
- The Nixons—including Richard Nixon’s unexpected appearance in the White House kitchen the morning he resigned
- The Reagans, from a fire that endangered Ronald Reagan late in his administration, to Nancy’s control of details large and small
- The Clintons, whose private battles—including shouting matches and flying objects—unsettled residence workers
- The Obamas, who danced to Mary J. Blige on their first night in the White House
And just as compelling are the stories of the workers themselves—including storeroom manager Bill Hamilton, who served eleven presidents over fifty-five years; chief housekeeper Christine Limerick, who married a fellow residence worker; Stephen Rochon, who became the first African American chief usher; executive pastry chef Roland Mesnier, who feuded fiercely with executive chef Walter Scheib; and James Ramsey, who made friends with presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and whose spirit animated the White House through six presidencies before his death in 2014.
Working tirelessly to provide impeccable service, earning the trust and undying admiration of each new First Family, these extraordinary White House workers serve every day in the midst of history—and lived to tell the tales.