US Presidents and First Ladies

Writing about the White House by Christopher Hitchens, Jenny Diski, Stephen Greenblatt, Linda Colley, J. Hoberman, David Runciman, Michael Rogin and Colm Tóibín.

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

If you read the Clinton family profile ‘in neutral’, so to speak, you would imagine yourself studying a problem kid from a ghetto, where it is a wise child who knows his own father. 

I blame Foucault: Bush’s Women

Jenny Diski, 22 September 2005

‘W. stands for women,’ cried Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Elaine Chao and Gale Ann Norton at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and in case the Good Ol’ Boy’s good old ladies didn’t get it, a banner explained: ‘The country and my administration have benefited from the strong women who serve as senior members of my White House team.’

That’s America

Stephen Greenblatt, 29 September 1988

The 15th-century classic of paranoid witch-hunting, Kramer and Sprenger’s Malleus Maleficarum, provides a convenient gloss on the word ‘glamour’. Witches, the Dominican...

At least they paid their taxes

Linda Colley, 25 July 1991

On the dust-jacket of this book is a photograph of its author. Kitty Kelley, formerly of Spokane, one-time Lilac Princess at school, millionaire biographer of Jacqueline Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor...

What if he’d made it earlier? LBJ

David Runciman, 5 July 2012

As a boy in Texas, growing up in poor and sometimes desperate circumstances, LBJ told anyone who would listen that he was headed for the White House.

On 29 January 1884 Henry James noted a story which he had heard from Gertrude Tennant. It struck him ‘as a dramatic and pretty subject’. Young Lord Stafford, it seemed, was in love...

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