A New York Times bestseller: A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life on Pennsylvania Avenue with America’s first families, by the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst
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.J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met,” provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy’s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, Upstairs at the White House is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors.
About the Author
J. B. West (1912-1983), chief usher of the White House–or executive director of the executive mansion and grounds–was once called “the most powerful man in Washington next to the president.” Discreet and witty, he supervised the large permanent staff that provided for every personal want and need for six presidents and first ladies, including at state dinners, weddings, and funerals, redecorating the facilities for each family and tending to every special request. He served first as assistant to the chief usher and then as chief usher after retiring as a high-level civilian officer of the US Navy. A native Iowan, his White House tenure (1941-1969) followed a career in the Veterans Administration. “Upstairs at the White House” was published in 1973 and remained on the “New York Times “bestseller list for months, with more than five hundred extraordinarily positive reviews, editions in seven languages, and more than two million copies sold in the US across hardcover and paperback formats.
Mary Lynn Kotz is the author of the best-selling “Upstairs at the White House, “Marvella, and “A Passion for Equality (with Nick Kotz). She is a contributing editor to “ARTnews and has written for many major magazines in her 20-year career as a journalist. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Review From Customer
“I think he is one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met.” —Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
“If he were at court he would be called Head Chamberlain. . . . He finds solutions to so many problems with quiet efficiency.” —Lady Bird Johnson in A White House Diary
“This memoir by the former Chief Usher (i.e. majordomo) of the White House is several Truman-balconies above all those others.” —Kirkus Reviews