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Excellent insight into the lives of some American Presidents' wives and their relationship to their husbands during their term in office. Starts with Edith Wilson and ends with Laura Bush. With this thoughtful rumination, journalist Marton augments the proliferating literature on the position and person of the First Lady. Marton examines 11 of the 20th-century presidential couples the Kati Marton.

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An extraordinary work of history and original reporting that reveals the ways in which presidential marriages have affected the tone, character, and policies of twelve administrations, from Woodrow and Edith Wilson to George W. Each of the marriages that Kati Marton examines in this hugely appealing book offers up its own unexpected lessons about power and marriage, about the influence of presidential wives, and about the evolution of women's roles in the twentieth century.

Based on private White House documents and on interviews with the participants and with eyewitnesses to presidential events, "Hidden Power" explores how both the personal dynamics and public faces of White House marriages have shaped our history. We see Edith Wilson literally running the government when her deeply beloved husband becomes ill; how the combination of Franklin Roosevelt's reassuring spirit and his wife's humility guided the country through Depression and war; how Bess Truman's loyalty, bluntness, and unpretentiousness were some of her husband's greatest resources; the superb and necessary diplomacy of Jacqueline Kennedy.

We observe Lady Bird Johnson retaining her own compass in the face of massive criticism of her husband; how Patricia Nixon's estrangement from her husband fed his paranoia; how the Fords reassured us after the debacles of Vietnam and Watergate; Rosalynn Carter's struggle to carve out new territory as first lady; the generally constructive role Nancy Reagan played, despite her frivolous reputation; the razor-sharp political instincts behind Barbara Bush's grandmotherly image; how Hillary Clinton saved her husband's presidency; and how Laura Bush providesemotional ballast for her husband.

Here are the stories of the ultimate power couples--each one very different, but all of them informative, lively, and absolutely fascinating. That Changed the World. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page.


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Preview — Hidden Power by Kati Marton. Marton uncovers the behind-the-scenes dynamics of the ultimate power couples, showing how first ladies have used their privileged access to the president to influence staffing, promote causes, and engage directly in policy-making. And Laura Bush, initially shy of any public role, has proven to be the emotional ballast for her husband. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published July 16th by Anchor first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Hidden Power , please sign up.

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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 27, Karla rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. Even more interesting to me was the way each of the wives interpreted her role as first lady and how that fit or clashed with society's view of her role. Eleanor Roosevelt actively toured the country being her husbands eyes and ears. Pat Nixon shriveled up and withered away under the pressures and with the lack of support and attention from her husband.

Hilary Clinton was criticised for taking an active and visible role in policy with the health care issue. And the wives did all this under intense public scrutiny and while many of the husbands were unfaithful! Pretty biased. I thought she made all the presidents look either weak and highly dependent on their wives, or like heartless, cruel philanderers. She also mentions more than one First Lady's "breakdown. My other quibble was that, in my opinion, the analysis didn't really show the impact that these marriages had on politics or government or Ame Pretty biased.

My other quibble was that, in my opinion, the analysis didn't really show the impact that these marriages had on politics or government or American culture or what have you, so I was left wondering how these presidential marriages actually shaped our recent history. Just the same, it was an intriguing look into a topic that isn't easily probed or widely studied, and I love reading about First Ladies as well as First Couples.

Apr 18, Nancy rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. The book was published in However, for the most part, the more I read, the less respect I have for powerful men and women! Mar 08, Davida rated it really liked it.

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I think this book was supposed to be a more scholarly read, but it's really not about how the relationships "shaped" the presidencies; more, it's straight-up first-couple gossip. The conclusions the author was drawing seemed pretty spurious, but I loved reading about the relationships and power dynamics from president to first lady, and I think I learned a lot. So I don't think this was the book Marton wanted it to be, but it was fun reading nonetheless. There was something I absolutely loved about this book.

I don't know if it felt like I was reading things that people really shouldn't know, or if it just brought a much more human light to our presidents. I completely agree with some of the other reviews that this book really made me want to look a little more into the history of our country. Sep 08, Anne Baldwin rated it really liked it.

The Hidden Power of Marriage: Episode 1

I"ll keep you posted. So far I'm fascinated Oct 08, Beth Mitchell rated it really liked it. Very interesting. New perspective on history. So many first ladies lost parents early in life; did that lead them to marrying powerful men? Makes me want to read more about presidential history. May 30, Michell Karnes rated it it was amazing Shelves: biography , non-fiction.

This book gave detailed analysis of the wives of our most recent presidents. How they helped, influenced and shaped their husbands presidency. The author gave quotes and examples to show the personality and relationships of these women. I found this book a fantastic, intellectually stimulating and riveting book. This book differed from other biographical books about presidents' wives by examining how they influenced their husbands presidency through their individual level of marital power. This This book gave detailed analysis of the wives of our most recent presidents.

This book gave quotes and examples I have not read or heard of before. It examined how each wife presented themselves to the public versus how they really were behind the scenes. The author quotes President Truman as saying how important the wife is to her husband and this fact has yet to be fully acknowledged by the history. Feb 27, Nanci rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , uno , non-fiction.

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would. I assumed this would be a rather dry read, but it was anything but that. Kati Marton is a strong writer. She has written a few other nonfiction books, a novel, and has written for various publications such as The New Yorker, New York Times, Vanity Fair and others. There are 12 chapters centered around 12 select 20th century presidents. Some of the information was familiar to me, but there was enough that was new to me to keep my attention. Marton's writing is on quite a personal level, so the reader really feels for these women and their husbands who impacted the White House and some incredibly difficult decisions that were made.

This would be a good book discussion choice. Nov 23, Marivi rated it really liked it. I learned a lot about history from this book, though not as much as I thought was needed to really understand the challenges each couple was facing during their presidential terms. I read it because my husband wants to be POTUS one day, so it helped to see that in many ways, these couples were real people with ordinary struggles. Feb 27, Shirlee Sloyer rated it really liked it. A peripheral look into the women behind the men in the Oval Office; Marton selected some of the more interesting First Ladies of the twentieth century to populate these pages.

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And even though I knew much of what was detailed here, it was still fascinating to see these women within their marriages and in contrast to one another. Sep 18, Sarah Allen rated it liked it. It was a good overview of each presidential marriage, rather than just the first lady, as it is impossible to separate the stories of the Presidents and First Ladies. Oct 07, Laurie rated it it was amazing Shelves: olli-study-group , I found myself fascinated with this book.

Kati Marton

Marton, the widow of Peter Jennings, does fantastic research but sure doesn't write like a dry historian. This was a great resource for a study group of presidential wives and most of us wound up reading it all, not just the 4 chapters we were assigned. Read for book club this month.


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  • It was a slow, intermittent read for me. Some chapters were much more interesting than others. Rounding up from 2.