Award-winning White House correspondent and presidential historian
Kenneth T. Walsh’s latest book,
Celebrity in Chief
A history of the presidents and the culture of stardom,
With a New Epilogue on Hillary and “The Donald”
A comprehensive look at the history of America’s presidents
as “celebrities in chief”
since the beginning of the Republic.
by Kenneth T. Walsh
From George Washington (Mount Vernon) to George W. Bush (Crawford ranch), from FDR (Hyde Park) to JFK (Hyannisport), almost every single president has had a beloved place where he could really be himself. Based on Walsh’s interviews with four of the living presidents, as well as scores of officials and staff, From Mount Vernon to Crawford is a fascinating glimpse into this largely unexamined facet of American government.
Publish date: May 2005
ISBN 10: 1401301215
From Mount Vernon to Crawford
BUY this book ...
Jeff Turrentine - The Washington Post
Presidents at Play
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Aaah, here's some light reading for President Bush -- poised, during his current vacation, to become the most relaxed and rested commander in chief ever-- after a long day of bicycling, clearing brush and sidestepping protesters. Kenneth T. Walsh's "From Mount Vernon to Crawford" (Hyperion, $25.95) is an entertaining and illuminating survey of presidential retreats that combines historical research with on-the-job reporting. (Walsh, the chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, has covered the presidency for two decades.)
That presidents like getting away from Washington should come as no surprise; what's interesting is how and where they choose to do so. As he looks at favored vacation spots throughout history, Walsh makes the case for each as a symbolic extension of a presidential persona. Thus did Hyde Park, Hyannisport and Kennebunkport -- all bastions of East Coast privilege -- do as much to cement the images of FDR, JFK and George H.W. Bush as elite plutocrats as the ranches of LBJ, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did to burnish those presidents' down-home credentials. The classic photo of a grimacing Richard Nixon "relaxing" on the beach in San Clemente, unable or unwilling to shed his dark slacks and dress shoes, is by itself worth the cover price.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company
Gilbert Taylor - American Library Association
Capitalizing on the popularity of Air Force One (2003), journalist Walsh again taps the celebrity-type interest in the trappings of the American presidency--this time in the incumbents' escape destinations from Washington. An anecdote-driven amble, Walsh's tour describes the decor, amenities, menus, and similar trivia. Of more historical relevance, Walsh, who for two decades past has held the White House beat for U.S. News & World Report, explores the recuperative value to presidents of getting out of Washington, and what they've done when out of town. Walsh crafts this information, which encompasses the entertaining, recreational, gustatory, and bibulous habits of vacationing chief executives, into reflections of their personalities. Gregarious ones such as LBJ and Clinton kept a crowd around, while introverts such as Nixon and Reagan cultivated solitude. Either way, official business often intruded, and Walsh narrates^B the momentous decisions presidents have made while down on a ranch or up at Camp David. Looking at every president since FDR, plus Washington, Jefferson, the two Adamses, and Lincoln, Walsh succeeds in sating popular curiosity in presidents' private lives.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Published by Hyperion Books
From Mount Vernon To Crawford
Kenneth Walsh, Observing Presidents in Retreat
August 13, 2006 12:47 PM ET
Being president of the United States is no easy job. And when it comes time to get away from it all, the president can't just load his family into a mini-van and drive out to a public beach or go camping in the woods, and not just because it would drive the Secret Service crazy.
Instead U.S. presidents have needed more secluded getaways, such as Warm Springs, Ga., San Clemente, Calif., Kennebunkport, Maine, the old weekend standby Camp David in Maryland — or President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
What those sanctuaries reveal about the presidents' private lives is the subject of Kenneth Walsh's book From Mount Vernon to Crawford: A History of the Presidents and Their Retreats.
Walsh is White House correspondent for U.S. News and World Report. On a recent tour of Mount Vernon, he talked about how George Washington spent his time there.
Go to NPR to read Transcript
Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved.