The gatekeepers How the White House Chiefs of Staff define every presidency

Chris Whipple

Book - 2017

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2nd Floor 973.0992/Whipple Checked In
2nd Floor 973.0992/Whipple Checked In
New York : Crown [2017]
First edition
Item Description
First paperback edition (2018) has different pagination and includes a new chapter on President Trump.
Physical Description
365 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 301-342) and index.
Main Author
Chris Whipple (author)
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The position of White House chief of staff is a relatively modern construct. Ideally a combination of trusted confidante and devil's advocate, the chief of staff is the one person tasked with keeping the president and his administration on point and on schedule. The success or failure of any presidency can often lie squarely on the shoulders of this person who is neither elected nor confirmed for the position. From the outrageous hubris of John Sununu in the George H. W. Bush White House to the pompous arrogance of Donald T. Regan in Ronald Reagan's, the chief of staff can hinder a president's image, affect his legacy, and, indeed, limit his time in office. Others, such as the consummate professional James A. Baker (also Reagan), Leon Panetta (Bill Clinton), and Andrew Card (George W. Bush), have imposed a strict sense of organization, control, and decorum over the most powerful office in the world. Having interviewed all 17 living former chiefs of staff and two former presidents, Whipple offers a scintillating behind-the-scenes look at an office that is all but invisible to the public. This is page-turning catnip for political junkies, who will read it with an eye to what lies in store for Reince Priebus and the Trump administration.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Whipple, a documentary filmmaker and first-time author, surveys recent U.S. presidential history by profiling chiefs of staff from Nixon to Obama. He doesn't quite justify his subtitle or even try particularly hard to prove its far-reaching claim, but he does recount a vibrant narrative of the real-world West Wing and give insight into the oft-mentioned but little-explained role of White House Chief of Staff. Repurposing original interviews conducted for a documentary film that Whipple cowrote, The President's Gatekeepers, the book is peppered with stories and insights from many of the chiefs of staff and other key players including presidents Carter and George H.W. Bush. Whipple also draws from other histories and political memoirs, giving the book an insiders' feel as it recounts historical episodes such as the Watergate break-in, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the 9/11 attacks, and the unsuccessful rollout of The confident and fast-paced narrative is enhanced by having actual historical players contribute well-rounded (and sometimes surprising) characterizations of presidents and other Washington luminaries. In this page-turner of a history, readers will discover new facets of historical events that they felt they already knew. Agent: Lisa Queen, Queen Literary Agency. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Journalist and filmmaker Whipple assesses chiefs of staff from the presidencies of Richard Nixon through Barack Obama, arguing that the successes and failures of each administration have hinged upon the skills and effectiveness of the man (and it's always been a man) in charge of the White House staff. Relying extensively upon personal interviews with many of the surviving former chiefs as well as some former presidents, the author provides an inside look at the incredibly stressful and thankless nature of the job that its holders have described as "javelin-catcher for the president." Narrator Mark Bramhall does an excellent job, even offering low-key impersonations of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. VERDICT Although occasionally gossipy (including a delightful anecdote of an equestrian adventure featuring President Reagan and Queen Elizabeth), the book delivers important insights into the ways power is wielded at the very highest levels and should serve as a cautionary tale for our new president. Highly recommended for devotees of politics and history.-Forrest Link, Coll. of New -Jersey Lib., Ewing © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Peabody and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Whipple chronicles the roles as well as the successes and failures of White House chiefs of staff from the Richard Nixon to Barack Obama administrations.The modern White House chief of staff, the gatekeeper to the president and manager of White House operations, emerged during the Nixon administration. While presidents Kennedy and Johnson preferred a more decentralized system with multiple advisers, Nixon's chief, H.R. Haldeman, created a strong, focused organization that has endured for nearly a half-century. The author discusses subsequent administrations and their chiefs in chronological order. James A. Baker III, Ronald Reagan's first chief of staff, is seen as the gold standard. Also successful were Gerald Ford's two chiefs, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Among those whose performance fell short were Hamilton Jordan for Jimmy Carter, Donald Regan for Reagan, and Mack McLarty for Bill Clinton. Throughout the book, Whipple identifies several variables that affect performance: presidential access and support; management style; and whether the chief serves as an honest broker, allowing all arguments on issues to be presented, or as a strict advocate. Also pivotal is whether heall the chiefs have been menviews himself as a principal, essentially a peer of the president, or as a staff member; invariably, the former is a recipe for failure. An unusual element was added when George W. Bush's vice president, Cheney, experienced from White House politics during the Ford administration, was able to thwart the efforts of Bush's chief, Andrew Card. Whipple also reviews the high and low points of the past eight administrations, and he greatly enhances the narrative with his many interviews, some of which were used for a documentary he did on the subject in 2013. A well-researched, well-written review of a unique government positioninformative for the general public and an insightful blueprint for the new administration. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.