I saw Kati Marton interviewed on one of the Sunday morning news shows recently and later tracked down her book to learn more about her fascinating topic - how the office and the marriages of US presidents influence one another, for both good and ill. I have always been interested in first ladies, particularly in terms of how they balanced their very public lives with their responsibilities as parent and spouse.
It seems quite true that once a person becomes president (so far only men) he becomes public property, with everyone demanding something from him most minutes of his life. While this is to be expected and certainly doesn't come as a surprise to a candidate once he's in office, it seems essential that he have someone who cares about him as a person. Someone who has his back, so to speak, and keeps an eye out for his health and personal well-being. More often than not, that person is his wife. Some of them were more successful than others in watching out for their husbands and a few, notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton, also managed to carve out important roles for themselves.
Kati Marton's profiles are well researched and full of interesting little details that help the reader see the first ladies as real people, with ambitions and emotions just like everyone else. Marton does not inject a particular political perspective into her work. I found myself quite liking most of the women featured in this book, including those not of my own political party.
Hidden Power is well written and easy to read. I highly recommend it.
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About the reviewer
Bonnie McEwan (BonnieMcEwan)
I own a communications consultancy in NYC called MAKE WAVES, which serves nonprofit organizations and foundations. I also hold a Visiting Lecturer position at Milano: The New School for Management & … more
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