Book Review of
Upstairs at the White House
J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and coordinated its daily life—at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests—including friends, relatives, and heads of state.
Mr. West gives us a great inside glimpse of the White House and it is a perspective that we rarely see or think about. It is how the First Lady influences the president and manages the White House. While he may glamorize the presidents and First Ladies a little bit, he also discreetly points out what he disagreed with. Mr. West discusses how it is to be the chef usher and all the responsibility it brings. I do wish it could have gone into more detail of the president’s families life, but in the end it was a fun, educational read.
I bought this book when they ran the ebook on sale on Amazon. It sat on my Kindle for some time, but I finally read it after Grace told me how much she enjoyed it. It was a pretty quick read and an interesting look at the lives of several presidents and their families. If you enjoy presidential history, or would like to know more about the lives of presidential families, I think you will enjoy this book.