Here at ADMIN, we are constantly working on enhancing our productivity both as a company and as individuals. For inspiration, we will often turn to things like TEDTalks and podcasts. In fact, that is why we started our podcast series here on our blog. This same initiative has encouraged us to start a new monthly series on the blog that is dedicated to books that have influenced our team. Welcome to the Monthly Book Review.
For the month of December, the ADMIN team decided to step outside of the box when it came to our choice of book. Rather than reading a book built for people in business, we grabbed the highly acclaimed Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies by J. B West with Mary Lynn Kotz. While this may seem like an unlikely read to feature here on the blog, this book provided us with some surprising insight on the inner-workings of the White House as an institution and a glimpse at how the varying First Ladies managed the popular establishment during their time there.
Author J. B. West, served in the White house first as assistant to the chief usher and then as chief usher from 1941 until 1969. He served the Presidents and the First Ladies beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and retired shortly after Richard M. Nixon took office. His responsibilities as chief included coordinating state functions, building renovations, First Family parties, weddings, funerals, and the White House grounds. His tenure included ground breaking events such as the death of FDR and the assassination of JFK.
Overall this booked provided us with insight into the inner-workings of the White House as an institution. We learn a great deal about the First Ladies and their personalities, as they oversee the configuration, décor and use of various rooms to suit their style of living and entertaining. The book compares the use and decor of the White House for the Administrations of Presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard M. Nixon. The book is a journey through the history of the White House, how it evolved and how it was rebuilt after near collapse during the Truman Administration.
We really enjoyed the inside look at how the world was between 1941 and 1969 when there was no Secret Service and how unencumbered the First Ladies and the Presidents were to travel and entertain. The book reveals the entertainment proclivities of each administration and describes how each First Lady, President and their families lived in the White House. The book also illustrates how money is an issue in all of our lives, including within the White House. While Congress appropriated money for the upkeep of the facility, the residents paid for their own food.travel and used fundraising efforts or donations to pay for the larger renovation projects.
If you like to take a trip into history than this book, written in 1973, provides an intimate look at the operation of the White House and the impact of those who have the privilege to reside there, if only for a short period of time.