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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
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 R.S.V.P. Not Required! May 19 2003
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 a sneak-peek into the private places (once not allowed) hidden from the watchful-eye of the "JQ Public," historic treaures now ours to look at for as long as we like and to enjoy! Thank You, Hillary!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Give This Item As A Gift...... May 15 2003
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 sideways version of Mt. Dippersuvius all over. Other than the occupying "entity" shown throughout this book, it looked pretty nice. Plenty of good pictures of the White House showing other people's work before the "entity" and it's husband looted the place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Photos (Except for the Cover) May 12 2003
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 to a minimum. Overall this is a very enjoyable book and one I can recommend to anyone interested in the White House. As for the invitation, I wonder if the Girl in the Blue Dress received one of these...
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5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive in the Peoples' House April 19 2003
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good pictoral Aug. 22 2001
By Dee Jay
First off, let me tell you that I loathe Hillary Clinton. I actually bought this book for my Clinton-loving grandmother for Christmas. I hated to put another notch in Hillary's best-seller status but, hey, it was Christmas.
I picked up this book then couldn't put it down until I saw every photo and poured over every recipe! If you've never taken the White House tour, just get his book instead. You'll see more in the book than any guide will show you. The behind the scenes photos are quite interesting and the recipes make you feel like you attended the dinner where the dishes were served.
This makes a wonderful gift for anyone, not just Clinton fans.
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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 experience - especially if you got up at 4:00 in the morning to get tickets for the 15 minutes it takes to shuffle through the tour.
You can take longer, of course... but if battling hundreds of other tourists like your self for a vaunted position in the doorway of the Vermiel Room to see a distant view of china is not quite your bag, it's my humble opinion that you'll enjoy this book.
I reviewed it after having been on the tour recently and found this book to be an outstanding asset.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Coffee Table Book Aug. 6 2001
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.
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