The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple examines the modern chief of staff and how every presidency since Nixon's has been shaped by the position. Good or bad, the chiefs of staff have been one of the most influential factors in the legacy of each presidency in the modern era.
Whipple uses mainly primary source material to tell the magnificent tale of the modern chief of staff. He conducted numerous interviews with the chiefs as well as two former presidents. He also had access to previously unpublished material granted him by the individuals involved. How a chief shapes the presidency is the overall theme of this book and the thread that ties each individual story together.
It is the chief of staff's job to protect the president's time. How well he does that plays a significant role in the president's success. He is also to manage the staff and stop anyone trying to go around the proper channels, or trying to execute plans that are just bad ideas such as the Watergate break-in, or the Iran-Contra affair. The chief has to be able to be 100% honest with the president and manage many strong personalities at once.
Whipple tells the story of each chief both from their perspective as well as those who worked with them. At the end of each chapter, I was left wanting to know more about these men and their relationships, as there is only enough space to discuss the high (or very low) points of each chief's time in office. The Gatekeepers is very readable and easy to understand, even for someone who isn't familiar with politics. Part biography, part modern American history, The Gatekeepers is a great read for anyone interested in either.
Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255