Instaread Summary of First Women The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower
Five out of five stars
Historically, there are few, if any, positions in the U. S. federal government that are potentially more powerful with little definition than that of the First Lady. There is little reason to believe that this will change if the gender of the President’s spouse is male.
Since the founding of the nation, the only defined responsibility has been that of official hostess for White House functions. Some First Ladies have held a lot of power behind the scenes, some were more public and a few hated their position. While there are a few references to earlier First Ladies, the book being summarized here concentrates on the last holders of the position, starting with Jacqueline Kennedy.
People being what they are, some of the paired first ladies simply did not like each other, others hit it off right away and others started off in a state of dislike and later became friends. This is similar to what happens with ex-Presidents, since so few people can truly understand what they have experienced, they naturally gravitate to each other.
I found this summary to be a solid synopsis of the position of the modern First Lady as well as what they faced in dealing with the media scrutiny, ready criticism of their actions and for some, the sexual transgressions of their husbands. Their marital relationships are without question some of the most complex in the world, even the appearance of being a player behind-the-scenes is fodder for public discussion and criticism.
Key takeaway number three is a description of what has likely been the most significant role that First Ladies have played. “The physical and emotional well-being of the president is a major concern for first ladies.” Given their role as the ultimate, intimate insider with years of experience with the President, no one can do more to maintain the emotional stability of the president.
Although necessarily brief, this is a good primer of the role of the modern First Lady as well as of the book that describes their position and recent history in more detail.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.