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An Invitation To The White House: At Home With History [Hardcover]

Hillary Rodham Clinton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 29 2000

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has worked to make the White House a distinctly American showcase -- from historically accurate renovations and acquisitions of important American art, to celebrations of jazz and gospel music and an expanded emphasis on American cuisine. The first family's home has also been distinguished by the diversity of Americans honored and welcomed there. In this lavishly illustrated book, the First Lady invites you into the best-known house in the country and celebrates the very best of American history, arts, and culture.

An Invitation to the White House shows how the White House figures prominently in the cultural and political life of the country, as well as in the life of the first family. You'll have a front-row seat at the full range of White House occasions, from an elegant and historic State Dinner for the Emperor and Empress of Japan to the annual Easter Egg Roll, from a performance by Lou Reed to a private recital for President Clinton by a saxophone quartet. You'll follow a State Visit -- from the planning of the seating arrangements to the arrival ceremonies to the dancing after dinner -- and meet the dedicated staff who work behind the scenes to make it all possible. This is a White House you won't see on any public tour: As historian Carl Anthony writes in his introduction, "This book makes the rooms come alive -- one can almost taste the food and hear the music."

With more than 350 color and black-and-white photographs, menus and invitations from State Dinners and other events, and more than fifty recipes used in the White House kitchens, here is a glimpse of the day-to-day life behind the historic events that take place in the people's house.


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The most famous house in the United States serves as both private home and public domain. Every year brings an assortment of international dignitaries, down-home performers, local civic events, and family meals. Encompassing both rich historic tradition and modern lifestyles, the White House is a national symbol of pride in our distinct culture. An Invitation to the White House brings together detailed history and recent events with style. Each page is covered with lush photographs; some are public displays of formal greetings and gift exchanges, while others are obviously personal family snapshots from the Clintons' collection. From Chelsea showing her young cousin the family Christmas tree to Bill and Hillary listening raptly to a speech by Stephen Hawking, you'll find shots showing every facet of life at the White House. Many photos are devoted to showing the house "behind the scenes," and they present us with details like flower arrangements, plate garnishings, and delicate calligraphy for the place cards at formal dinners.

The accompanying text by Hillary Rodham Clinton is written with a pleasing mixture of fine detail--"Mrs. Barak and I did not stay awake as late as our husbands did"--and general sociopolitical commentary such as "The unified stance solidified that weekend was yet another reminder of the importance of NATO's alliance." Food is an important part of this book, and many sample menus have been included in full. The last chapter is filled with delightful recipes from the White House chefs, and includes such treats as new potatoes with lobster and bacon, hot pumpkin soup, and mocha cake. Whether you're a history buff, a die-hard Democrat, or just a fan of vivid coffee-table books, An Invitation to the White House is the next best thing to an actual visit. --Jill Lightner

From Booklist

Here's a Rorschach test for your library's patrons: a gorgeously illustrated celebration of the White House's 200th anniversary, a celebration chock-full of pictures of that Arkansas couple some of us love to love and others love to hate. Like Jackie Kennedy's TV tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Clinton's book describes recent refurbishment projects. The volume supplies behind-the-scenes photos of the First Family and the White House staff. It also includes pictures of the wide range of events--state visits by foreign dignitaries, art exhibitions and musical performances, award ceremonies, substantive conferences, and public events such as the annual Easter Egg Roll, holiday celebrations, and millennium ceremonies--that take place there. The final 90 pages record "Recipes from the White House Kitchen," from herbed tomato frittata to a powerful eggnog. There's plenty of useful information here, including a detailed description of a state visit by Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel, which runs from planning through arrival and meetings to dinner and dancing. Modestly priced for its size, the volume includes a brief introduction by historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony and a foreword by J. Carter Brown, treasurer of the White House Historical Association (which will receive all author proceeds; the publisher will donate a portion of its profits to the National Park Foundation). Appropriate for all libraries, but likely to be vandalized where particularly rabid "Foes of Bill" dominate. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great Dec 9 2003
By JK
Format:Hardcover
I bought my copy cheap from one of Amazon's excellent network sources. I consider myself pretty neutral on Bill and Hillary, but this truly is a shameless advertisement for the two. I was expecting more on the house itself, but basically this is a photo journey through the happier social moments during the Clinton presidency. For this, I still consider the book documenting the Ford presidency to be far better, certainly more candid, and a better artistic statement. The most interesting part of this book for me was the documentation of the planning for a state visit. The recipes at the end of the book weren't very interesting. Certainly, anyone curious about the internal workings of the House itself will be disappointed; JB West's "Inside the White House" is far better. I'm unsure where this book should rest in anyone's library. It could easily be considered fuel for the Clinton spin on their own celebrity. I'm glad I paid only a few bucks for it as I'll have no problem getting rid of it. Recommend looking elsewhere; the Natl. Geographic video on the White House is done much better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive in the Peoples' House April 19 2003
Format:Hardcover
I actually purchased this book in Washington, D.C., while there for a conference. One of the great First Ladies of the twentieth century provides fascinating glimpses into the most important Home in history, while entertaining the reader with bold and whimsical insights into its many and varied occupants. Did you know that a 145 year-old, crumbling White House was completely gutted by President Harry Truman, with every scrap of detail preserved to be replaced as it was when John and Abigail Adams first occupied it? Such are the fascinating details of history the reader is provided while experiencing the most intimate, day-to-day functions of a house that is both a living, personal family residence while functioning seamlessly as the epicenter of the free world.
I love the White House. Its history, its beauty, its timeless architecture, and its symbol as the center of democracy to a world hungry for freedom. Long may this home be occupied by men and women of good will who seek to serve the wishes of a free people.
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3.0 out of 5 stars New York! New York!! Dec 31 2000
Format:Hardcover
I have always wanted to explore the mansion of the people- the White House. However, each time I have tried to explore I have been yelled at by a security guard who has threatened to do bad things. After my fourth attempt at taking my own personal tour around the White House, I gave up with dismay and believed that I would never get to see the White House in its full glory.
But then I was fortunate enough to come across Hillary Clinton's delightful book "An Invitation to the White House". This book offers a behind the scenes romp through our nation's most esteemed address. Hillary adds a touch of New York (though she never really resided there) with her classically cut black tailored suit and remarks such as "This is just like Tavern on the Green" and "I imagine this looks very similar to the Rainbow Room". An especially enlightening chapter is the one concerning the Oval Office. If you want a good read, you will throughly enjoy the pictures and the diction that describes various events that have occured within the walls of the Presidential mansion.
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Format:Hardcover
Although I'm not one of HRC's greatest fans, I found this new 324 page
super book well done, and a wonderful gift to give or receive. The
price is quite reasonable, as well. I felt that Mrs. Clinton invited
me into "our" White House, giving me a personally escorted
tour of the house, its furnishings, its festivities and its dining.
The more than 200 often breathtaking pictures succeed in giving the
reader an inside view of the public and private areas, rarely seen by
the general public. She even provides us with over 50 interesting
recipes, giving us a flavor of the variety of dinners served here.
Hillary details her interior decorations and gives insight into her
non-partisan, personal side which were often not clearly previously
visible. She has done a magnificent job in tastefully decorating the
house, and this book gives the reader a taste of the flavor that
exists. Portions of the book's proceeds are intended for charity.
This is a coffee table, library book well worth owning and displaying
in your home.
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5.0 out of 5 stars None better than this Dec 15 2000
Format:Hardcover
For many of us, the White House is a fascinating topic. There are never enough books to read. Hillary Rodham Clinton has given what I love to see: a book that is genuinely democratic, that is, featuring the butlers and stolling musicians alongside the statesmen and superstars (even to giving us the names of tree-decorating volunteers shown in the photographs). Like no other book on the President's House, this one makes it clear that this is the people's house. Of course it is much more. Within my lifetime it has become a magnificent museum of American History. And take note, not just an archive: the book clearly indicates that visitors will see objects received as the legacy of previous presidents and their families. I remember my once-only walk tour of the White House. It went so fast! While many rooms are a kind of blur, I will never forget leaving by the front door and walking down the curved drive to the street! What a rush. If you can't get to Washington or don't know the president well enough to get his personal guided tour, Mrs. Clinton's book is the next best thing.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars R.S.V.P. Not Required!
Loved this book! Fabulously illustrated celebration of the White House's 200th. Annv. Nice variety of behind-the-scenes photos of the First Family and the White House staff, and... Read more
Published on May 19 2003 by Victoria Taylor Murray
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Give This Item As A Gift......
My smart aleck ex-girlfriend sent this to me recently as a birthday "gift". I opened it, saw the cover, and my already turgid belly (WAY too much birthday cake) erupted in a... Read more
Published on May 15 2003 by Dipper Lips
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Photos (Except for the Cover)
This book has some delightful photographs of various White House rooms, furniture, and memorabilia. The text is fairly limited and the photos of the author are (thankfully) kept... Read more
Published on May 12 2003 by Hoppy Doppelrocket
4.0 out of 5 stars Good pictoral
First off, let me tell you that I loathe Hillary Clinton. I actually bought this book for my Clinton-loving grandmother for Christmas. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2001 by Dee Jay
4.0 out of 5 stars "An Invitation..." helps augment the White House Tour
If you have been one of the 6000 people a day to traipse through the several rooms of the East Wing open to the public, you probably didn't have a completely satisfactory... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2001 by Butch Leitz
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Coffee Table Book
I liked looking at the pictures and some of the history was fascinating, but its not a book you would read cover to cover. Just fun to look at now and then.
Published on Aug. 5 2001 by Teri Valdez
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth Buying
If you want to look at the pictures, get a copy in the library or thumb through it at the book store. Your money can be spent more wisely on other books. Read more
Published on May 18 2001 by David Baka
5.0 out of 5 stars What a beautiful book and spectacular house!
I love this book! The people's home is a national treasure and I thank Mrs. Clinton for bringing us such a personal view of it. Read more
Published on March 20 2001 by weight loss survivor
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought tears to my eyes
I love the Clintons, but the photo that caught my eye was on page 284 of a sorbet. I'm going to scan it & use it as a screen saver. Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2001 by Bonny
5.0 out of 5 stars You feel as if you're really there
This book is extraordinary! It's only still pictures and text, but you feel as if you're really at all those parties and ceremonies, and you get a bit more of a feeling about what... Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2001 by Anne B.
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