Now with a new chapter on the chaos in the Trump administration, the first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the White House Chiefs of Staff, whose actions—and inactions—have defined the course of our country.
What do Dick Cheney and Rahm Emanuel have in common? Aside from polarizing personalities, both served as chief of staff to the president of the United States—as did Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and a relative handful of others. The chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," wield tremendous power in Washington and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push POTUS's agenda, and—most crucially—enjoy unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks.
Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker’s expert managing of the White House, the press, and Capitol Hill paved the way for the Reagan Revolution—and, conversely, how Watergate, the Iraq War, and even the bungled Obamacare rollout might have been prevented by a more effective chief.
Filled with shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details, The Gatekeepers offers an essential portrait of the toughest job in Washington.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Pairing whip-smart analysis of presidential policy with revelatory details about daily life in the Oval Office, this in-depth examination into the role of White House Chief of Staff offers a new view of the executive branch. The Gatekeepers contains interviews with every living person to have held this high-stakes, high-stress job, including former vice president Dick Cheney (who served as CoS under Gerald Ford). Emmy-winning journalist Chris Whipple asserts that Chiefs of Staff “make or break the presidencies they serve.” His exhaustive reporting reveals the wheeling and dealing of the men who’ve helped America’s presidents lead the country through some of its most challenging times.
Whipple, a documentary filmmaker and first-time author, surveys recent U.S. presidential history by profiling chiefs of staff from Nixon to Obama. He doesn't quite justify his subtitle or even try particularly hard to prove its far-reaching claim, but he does recount a vibrant narrative of the real-world West Wing and give insight into the oft-mentioned but little-explained role of White House Chief of Staff. Repurposing original interviews conducted for a documentary film that Whipple cowrote, The President's Gatekeepers, the book is peppered with stories and insights from many of the chiefs of staff and other key players including presidents Carter and George H.W. Bush. Whipple also draws from other histories and political memoirs, giving the book an insiders' feel as it recounts historical episodes such as the Watergate break-in, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the 9/11 attacks, and the unsuccessful rollout of healthcare.gov. The confident and fast-paced narrative is enhanced by having actual historical players contribute well-rounded (and sometimes surprising) characterizations of presidents and other Washington luminaries. In this page-turner of a history, readers will discover new facets of historical events that they felt they already knew.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Timely and Cogent
This study demonstrates the importance of an orderly, prioritized White House staff process to a president’s success.
That is nearly as crucial as timely, judicious policy planning, decision making and implementation.
Very insightful for each presidency and some of the major issues during their tenure. How the COS handled those issues and the WH staff. Enjoyable as educational, at times amusing while other times frustrating. A must read for those interested in political climates!
A great read about a very important role. A lot of leadership lessons are a viable for the taking.