From Abigail "Nabby" Adams to Chelsea Clinton, George Washington Adams to John F. Kennedy, Jr., the children of America's presidents have both suffered and triumphed under the watchful eyes of their powerful fathers and the glare of the ever-changing public. Whether they perished under the pressure like Andrew Johnson, upheld controversial views like Amy Carter, or carried their father's torch right back to the White House like George W. Bush, all presidential children grew up having to share their fathers with the whole of their fellow countrymen -- and, in too many instances, spent the rest of their lives in a desperate search for their own identities.
In this illuminating bestseller, Washington insider Doug Wead offers an authoritative analysis of our nation's presidential offspring. Featuring lively anecdotes, photographs, short biographies, and never-before-published personal accounts, All the Presidents' Children is an important socio-cultural work, a groundbreaking study of American family dynamics, and an entertaining foray into the homes, hearts, and history of our forefathers.
Wead, who was President George H.W. Bush's special assistant, explores the dynamic bond with their presidential fathers that catapulted offspring to great success or, more often it seems, to the depths of despair. The stress of being the son or daughter of one of the most powerful men in the world, the burden of great expectations, wore away at the mental fabric of many. Some sons became alcoholics, womanizers, gamblers or just plain reckless sorts, while daughters made impossible sacrifices to gain their fathers' approval. After the death of her second son from alcoholism (the elder son drowned, perhaps a suicide), Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, said, "et another son had been sacrificed on the altar of politics." Among the most interesting of those explored are Robert Lincoln, one of the most successful yet darkest presidential sons; Alice Roosevelt, famous for her fearless tongue and her pet snake named Emily Spinach; John Eisenhower, decorated soldier and military historian; and Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who outdid his famous father on the battlefield. Also profiled are the nine weddings held in the White House. Wead includes only short bios on those presidential children still living, out of respect for their privacy. Still, there is no shortage of drama, scandal and emotion in the lives detailed here, for as Wead sums up, "Two things are unforgivable for the child of a president success and failure." 16 pages of color photos.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.