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
President Harry Truman famously called the White House “the great white jail.” One can scarcely imagine an environment outside the nation’s penal system that is more isolating than the Executive Mansion, a habitat almost guaranteed to keep America’s commander in chief far removed from everyday life. In fact, isolation is emerging as one of the most serious dilemmas facing the American presidency. In recent years, West Wing insiders have come up with a name for this syndrome. They call it the White House “bubble.” Life under these conditions is a basic theme of this book, along with ways out of it, including bus tours, pollsters, and an attentive first family.
As presidents have become more isolated, the role of the presidential pollster has grown. Ken Walsh has been given exclusive access to the polls and confidential memos received by presidents over the years, and has interviewed presidential pollsters directly to gain their unique perspective. “The ‘bubble’ is real, intense, hard to pierce, and hard to find your way out of,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in one of several interviews for this book. Ken Walsh gets inside the bubble and punctures the mythology surrounding the presidency.
Publish date: May 2013
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The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
Walsh, who has covered the White House…for more than a quarter-century, knows his beat intimately and has had at least a passing acquaintance with every president since George H.W. Bush…on the whole he takes a reasonably distanced approach to the men he has covered and recognizes their faults as well as their virtues…Prisoners of the White House…is a useful survey of how presidents are isolated from their constituency and how some of them have tried to overcome that.
by Publishers Weekly Found Here
Veteran White House correspondent Walsh (Family of Freedom: Presidents and African Americans in the White House) provides an uncontroversial review of efforts by presidents—from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama—to maintain contact with the American people, despite their isolation in office. Arguing that the presidents who do this best have the most successful administrations, Walsh traces the evolution of the key technique of polling, which has become an indispensable tool. The author notes that polls are not always reliable, but they enable both a sampling of public opinion and a means of shaping that opinion. Other methods of keeping a finger on the public pulse include monitoring the media, sampling letters from constituents, consulting legislators and friends, and conversations with citizens. Unfortunately, Walsh doesn’t offer a concrete escape plan for breaking out of the gilded prison of the White House—a goal that might well be impractical anyway. Nevertheless, students of political science and history will find this to be a worthwhile reflection on how the presidency has evolved. (June)
Library Journal - Marcus Kieltyka
Walsh, (former White House correspondent, US News & World Report; Family of Freedom: Presidents and African Americans in the White House) evaluates the attempts from Franklin Roosevelt's third term through President Obama's first to keep in touch with the country. The book is based on previous presidential studies, the author's interviews with White House advisers, and newly available presidential papers. It examines each administration's methods, including initiatives by first ladies, to access the public mood from within an increasingly insular White House. Rather than being organized chronologically, the book is organized around the theme of an administration's level of success in maintaining connection with public opinion: those that lost contact with it (Nixon and Carter); two administrations that proactively worked on public opinion to establish new agendas (Kennedy's civil rights campaign and George W. Bush's war on terror); and administrations that maintained contact with the American public (Clinton and Reagan). Lastly, the book discusses the evolution and abilities of presidential pollsters, or "wizards," from Roosevelt's Hadley Cantril to Obama's Joel Benenson, men charged with keeping the administration connected to the people. VERDICT This insightful and informative work will appeal to anyone interested in the evolving U.S. presidency and the ability of each administration to break out of the White House bubble and stay connected with the nation.
Marcus Kieltyka, Central Washington Univ. Lib., Ellensburg
by Library Journal : Found Here
Doug Wead The Blog - wordpress.com
"Walsh may be this nation’s greatest authority on the modern American presidency. His career as a presidential historian began late, this is his sixth book, but his career as a journalist has given him a front row seat at every White House since Ronald Reagan. Walsh has covered, up-close, five American presidents.”
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Ken Walsh - Prisoners of the White House:
The Isolation of America's Presidents - 12/03/13