Book Nook: Upstairs at the White House – J.B. West

Do you feel like you know what the First Lady of the United States does during her time in the White House? I mean, what’s she up to?

Is she just there for photo opportunities? Does she stay cooped up in the White House all day? Or is she, conversely, more involved in the decisions the President makes than we might think?

We could all take a wild guess. Maybe there are some out there who know a bit more than the majority of us do, simply because they have more of an interest in the day to day activities of a particular First Family. If this sounds like you, now is your time to shine!

For those of us who know little more than what we see on the news about what goes on at the White House, Upstairs at the White House is an interesting read.

I feel like it’s fairly common for books of this sort to focus on the President of the United States himself. These books will focus on the political decisions that were made, the bills that were passed, the drama and the controversies that popped up along the way, etc…

Upstairs at the White House doesn’t deal with any of that.

J.B. West was the 6th Chief Usher of the White House, and he served under Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. As the Chief Usher, West was in charge of operations and household staff at the White House. He was the one who made sure everything ran smoothly, and a lot of his orders came directly from the First Lady.

This book doesn’t cover many political matters, and it doesn’t get into the drama that the news likes to focus on. You’re not going to learn much about the Kennedy assassination, and you’re not going to learn about the Watergate scandal.

Instead, you’re going to learn about each First Lady, and what things were like around the White House as she served in her role. You’ll have a chance to decide who is your least favorite (Mrs. Eisenhower. aka Dolores Umbridge) and who is your favorite (Mrs. Kennedy).

Upstairs at the White House gives you a behind the scenes look at what life is like in the White House during a particular presidency, and it’s interesting how each First Lady is different. They each have their own style when redecorating the White House, and they have different ideas of how things should be run.

You’ll also learn a lot about finances, as far as what things are paid for by the government and what things are paid for by the president and his wife. Those are topics I knew nothing about, and I don’t imagine many people would feel comfortable enough explaining it on their own.

I will say – as far as the writing is concerned – that I didn’t feel there was much excitement, and there were missed opportunities to capitalize on funny moments that instead seemed to be glossed over.

This is a book that I would recommend purely because I found the content interesting, not because it was written in a particularly amazing manner.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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