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The Battalion

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Pulling back the curtain

Author+Kate+Brower+spoke+Tuesday+night+at+George+Bush+Library+about+her+interviews+and+encounters+with+first+ladies+and+the+various+people+who+have+helped+to+keep+the+White+House+in+order+over+the+course+of+many+administrations.
Photo by: Brian Okosun

Author Kate Brower spoke Tuesday night at George Bush Library about her interviews and encounters with first ladies and the various people who have helped to keep the White House in order over the course of many administrations.

While Monday honored the legacy of former presidents, Tuesday’s presentation at the George Bush Presidential Library brought the first ladies and white house staff into the spotlight.
Kate Anderson Brower, New York Times best-selling author of “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House” and “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies” presented an exploration of the life of the first ladies and the White House staff at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Feb. 21. Brower accepted questions from the crowd in regards to her books, her time spent interviewing and what her stances are with the new administration still working to settle into the White House.
Tracy Paine, Public Programs Director at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, coordinated the event with Brower.
“She contacted us saying she was researching for her third book and wanted to see what we have in our archives, and she wanted to come here and do some research,” Paine said.
Paine asked if Brower would be willing to speak at this event while working on her research, and both agreed on the President’s Day celebration event. Paine had already read both of Brower’s books before they began planning this event.
“I like the fact that her books are so easy to read, it’s not so academic that you’re kind of lost by it,” Paine said. “They maintain your interest the whole time.”
David Anaya, Director of Marketing and Communications at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, finds the information Brower reveals to be significantly crucial to the historical aspects of the administrations, which helps add to the history of the library’s memoriam to the 41st President.
 “Having the presidential library here for the last 20 years, you have that association here with the community,” Anaya said. “I believe that this program gives a reflection into not only just all the presidents, but also President Bush as well and his time in the White House.”
Brower’s books cover the presidential administrations from the Kennedy’s to the Obama’s from the perspectives of White House staff and the first women. While working for Bloomberg, Brower came up with the idea to research the lives and service of the white house staff during a lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I had covered the East Wing for Bloomberg as well as the West Wing and I just wondered ‘who is this person, what is this relationship she has with this person’?” Brower said. “It turns out there really is a kind of Downton Abbey at the White House.”
Both books serve as a historical key to revealing an often hidden lifestyle of the president and his family.
“In my books I try to really humanize the president and the first lady and see them as real people who have ups and downs, and go through difficulties in life and challenges, and just putting a human face on the icons,” Brower said.
Throughout her presentation, Brower used photographs on a powerpoint presentation to visualize the administration and people encompassed the time spent within the White House grounds. She focused on the lesser known aspects of the first ladies and also brought forward the unseen roles of the white house staff.
“With ‘The Residence’ I try to celebrate the people who work behind the scenes, so I interviewed butlers and maids who no one has ever heard of before, but who have devoted their lives to serving the presidency, which is incredible,” Brower said. “And they’re still there for Trump, they serve from one administration to the next.”
At the end of her speech, Brower took questions from the crowd, and a few of people asked about the new administration in relation to the first lady and the news.
“I think it is very interesting to see how Donald Trump and Melania Trump are redefining the presidency,” Brower said. “Melania Trump, in particular, not moving to Washington right away is unprecedented. In a way it’s a very bold move of hers to decide not to move to Washington right away. It shows a lot of self confidence.”
Brower said no one has quit with the new administration changes.
“It’s not about whether you are a republican or a democrat, it’s about their allegiance to the presidency,” Brower said.
The night concluded with horderves, a wine bar and a line for Brower to sign a copy of one or both of her books for the attendees. Robert Holzweiss, Deputy Director at the George Bush Presidential Library, said the event turned out better than he had hoped it would.
“We knew that Kate would do an incredible talk based on her books,” Holzweiss said. “It exceeded my expectations, which were very, very high.”

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