The Powerful, Unsung (And Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents
In the bestselling tradition of The Presidents Club and Presidential Courage, White House history as told through the stories of the best friends and closest confidants of American presidents.
Here are the riveting histories of myriad presidential friendships, among them:
- Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed: They shared a bed for four years during which Speed saved his friend from a crippling depression. Two decades later the friends worked together to save the Union.
- Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson: When Truman wavered on whether to recognize the state of Israel in 1948, his lifelong friend and former business partner intervened at just the right moment with just the right words to steer the president’s decision.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Daisy Suckley: Unassuming and overlooked during her lifetime, Daisy Suckley was in reality FDR’s most trusted, constant confidant, the respite for a lonely and overworked President navigating the Great Depression and World War II
- John Kennedy and David Ormsby-Gore: They met as young men in pre-war London and began a conversation over the meaning of leadership. A generation later the Cuban Missile Crisis would put their ideas to test as Ormsby-Gore became the president’s unofficial, but most valued foreign policy advisor.
These and other friendships—including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Franklin Pierce and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Bill Clinton and Vernon Jordan—populate this fresh and provocative exploration of a series of seminal presidential friendships.
Publishing history teems with books by and about Presidents, First Ladies, First Pets, and even First Chefs. Now former Clinton aide Gary Ginsberg breaks new literary ground on Pennsylvania Avenue and provides fresh insights into the lives of the men who held the most powerful political office in the world by looking at the friends on whom they relied.
First Friends is an engaging, serendipitous look into the lives of Commanders-in-Chief and how their presidencies were shaped by those they held most dear.
"FIRST FRIENDS is an overdue reminder that deep friendship has always played a priceless role in shaping the contours of history. It gives us a fresh reminder of the power of relationships."
“One of the most important roles in any administration is that of First Friend, the person a president can trust completely and be relaxed around. It’s a wonderful idea for a book, and with his great research and personal feel for true friendship, Gary Ginsberg has woven together fascinating stories and memorable insights. His lessons are important not just for studying the presidency, but for understanding leadership and life.”—Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of LEONARDO DA VINCI
"Even if you're an avid reader of presidential biographies, you'll find yourself saying, 'Who knew?' all the way through FIRST FRIENDS. Gary Ginsberg combed through diaries, letters and interviews with an investigator's eye, teasing out personal details about the intimacies of nine presidents and their best friends. It is one of the best reads of the genre, rich with well-told anecdotes, new angles on critical historical events and evidence of the vital importance of friendship for presidents—and all of us. This book is a joy to read."—Lesley Stahl
“Gary Ginsberg takes a fascinating and utterly original look at the most crucial of questions: How do we best understand those who occupy our highest office, and the first friends who supported them?"—Malcolm Gladwell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of TALKING TO STRANGERS
“Delicious, charming and original, this examination of largely unexplored terrain—presidents and their best friends—packs a historical punch.”—Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist and bestselling author of THE TIME OF OUR LIVES
"This book was a wonderful surprise for it is engaging, entertaining and informative. Gary Ginsberg has opened an entire new genre and important area of presidential study—their close friends. This is an insightful look at presidents from the point of view of those who can have even more influence on them than their top advisers. Gary's reporting shines fresh light on the workings of the highest political office in our government. Best of all, it is a fun read."—John W. Dean, Nixon White House Counsel