on 8 March 2001
At first I wasn't too sure about this one and by and large the only real reason I got it was because I love Hillary Clinton but it blew me away. "An Invitation To The White House" goes into depth in regard to the history of what is probably the most famous building in the world and how the Clintons', Hillary in particular, strived to keep it as a true reflection of American liberty. Although this is not the type of book you would read if it was purely a biography of the Clintons' you wanted, it is nonetheless a startling account of how Hillary Clinton worked to keep the White House the international symbol of liberty that it is. In short, if it's the White House you're interested in, you won't get much better than this in terms of detail, photographs, history and the fact that it's written by an individual with around 8 years of first hand experience. A must!!
If you are like me, you have not yet been invited to a state dinner in the White House or to stay overnight. This book will make you feel like you have.
This is by far the best book ever about a First Lady's role relative to and her perspective on the White House. Mrs. Clinton was involved in providing continuity with the White House's history in selecting furnishings, art and deciding what rooms to redo; being official hostess for state events; raising funds to preserve and improve the White House; and creating a personal space for her family. The book contains many wonderful photographs of behind-the-scenes preparations that will be important historical guides for future First Ladies. The book is strengthened by over 350 photographs (mostly in color), images of invitations, and menus which are mostly well reproduced in the appropriate sizes.
All of the author's payments will go to the White House Historical Society and a portion of the publisher's profits go to the National Park Foundation.
This book will be tremendously appealing to all fans of Mrs. Clinton's. It will also appeal to those who have not yet spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, but would like to. If you are not in either category, this may not be the right book for you. The images and text are very focused on the Clinton years in the White House.
J. Carter Brown summarizes the book's perspective in his interesting Foreword. The book is a "perspective on history, art, and furnishings, . . . and a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the White House works." As such it is "an unprecedented opportunity to share in the dialy life of the people's house." Mrs. Clinton is generous in her willingness to include photographs and named references to the many hundreds of people involved in the endeavors that she coordinated as First Lady. This adds to the richness of understanding you will receive about how the White House is organized and operated.
Mrs. Clinton's personal touch was to make the White House more authentically American, both from a historical and a contemporary perspective. Gone are the continental cuisine menus in favor of native American food with American ingredients. Foreign antiques were replaced with American ones. Paintings were added by Georgia O'Keeffe, the first by an American woman, and by Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first black artist presented. Time and sunlight had faded the Blue Room into the Aqua Room, and the restoration made it more wonderful than ever before in ways consistent with the original design principles.
Personally, she talks about her identification with Dolley Madison who was both interested in making the White House run better and being a terrifically stimulating hostess.
The book contains sections on state dinners, honoring American arts and culture, honoring specific Americans, historic events of the last 8 years (such as the various peace negotiations), public events (such as the Easter Egg hunt), Christmas celebrations, and a special section on the Millennium events last year.
At the end are a series of recipes featuring the kind of dishes available in the White House. I don't have the knowledge to comment on these. Some are very humble, such as for French Toast while others are more elaborate. The desserts look absolutely terrific! When combined with photographs of the completed dishes, these sections are the most interesting of the food information.
After you have finished looking at the house that we all share, I suggest that you think about how you can reach out to meet more people by making your home more open and available. The Clintons made it a policy to invite people who did not expect to be invited to the White House. Who could you invite who would be thrilled to meet you, and with whom you would have a wonderful time?
Be more authentic!