Sunday, June 01, 2008

Book review: The President's House, Margaret Truman

Ms. Truman, daughter of Harry S, takes us on an historical tour of the Executive Mansion, from a variety of perspectives. It's a fascinating history, full of anecdotes, trivia, personal memories and histories of the people who lived and worked there, how they lived, and sometimes even why.

Rather than go historically, president by president, or family by family, she divides her stories topically. From the physical history of the building and grounds to White House pets, each segment adds a little more color and detail. Ms. Truman's enthusiasm and affection for the house, from its history to its staff, is evident in each retelling.

My only reservation is her obvious personal dislike for some of the House's former occupants, particularly those of the "Yankee" persuasion. Her repeated references to her beloved home state of Missouri make it clear she thinks regionally. She also uses her editorial license to return fire at some of the less flattering newspaper comments that were made about her during her years in the White House.

These flaws are minor enough that they don't spoil the overall sense of the book as an affectionate look at all the things that have made the White House a temporary home for over 40 families.

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