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Extended Audio Sample Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History Audiobook, by Kati Marton Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 5 3.70 (30 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kati Marton Narrator: Jane Alexander Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2001 ISBN: 9780739300015
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An extraordinary work of history and original reporting that reveals the ways in which presidential marriages have affected the tone, character, and policies of twelve administrations, from Woodrow and Edith Wilson to George W. and Laura Bush.

Each of the marriages that Kati Marton examines in this hugely appealing book offers up its own unexpected lessons about power and marriage, about the influence of presidential wives, and about the evolution of women’s roles in the twentieth century. Based on private White House documents and on interviews with the participants and with eyewitnesses to presidential events, Hidden Power explores how both the personal dynamics and public faces of White House marriages have shaped our history.

We see Edith Wilson literally running the government when her deeply beloved husband becomes ill; how the combination of Franklin Roosevelt’s reassuring spirit and his wife’s humility guided the country through Depression and war; how Bess Truman’s loyalty, bluntness, and unpretentiousness were some of her husband’s greatest resources; the superb and necessary diplomacy of Jacqueline Kennedy.

We observe Lady Bird Johnson retaining her own compass in the face of massive criticism of her husband; how Patricia Nixon’s estrangement from her husband fed his paranoia; how the Fords reassured us after the debacles of Vietnam and Watergate; Rosalynn Carter’s struggle to carve out new territory as first lady; the generally constructive role Nancy Reagan played, despite her frivolous reputation; the razor-sharp political instincts behind Barbara Bush’s grandmotherly image; how Hillary Clinton saved her husband’s presidency; and how Laura Bush provides emotional ballast for her husband.

Here are the stories of the ultimate power couples—each one very different, but all of them informative, lively, and absolutely fascinating.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Irresistible. . . . An entertaining shot of history. . . . Scores of interviews and extensive research have turned up some revealing anecdotes and shrewd insights. The New York Times
  • Brilliant. . . . Delectable. . . . Marton has a deft hand with narrative. . . . It’s the intimate, keyhole view of these marriages that gives Hidden Power its allure. Newsday
  • Fascinating . . . well-researched. The New York Times Book Review
  • Insightful. . . . Colorful. . . . A shrewd and illuminating look at the juncture where the personal and the political overlap. The Wall Street Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Dommert | 2/20/2014

    " Good, interesting comments about various first ladies "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 2/11/2014

    " This was an amazing book about some of the most under-rated influential women in history- the wives of the presidents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 2/10/2014

    " Very interesting and insightful. It wasn't a total page turner for me, but I learned a lot of interesting things about past Presidents and their wives that I had no idea about. I'd recommend it, but just know that it isn't a super fast read. At least for me it wasn't. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeannie | 2/1/2014

    " I found this book quite fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cammy | 1/29/2014

    " An interesting review of presidential marriages and the power behind the men who were president. It is quite revealing and fun to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 1/29/2014

    " Liked better than I thought I would. I learned a lot "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 1/23/2014

    " Learned a great deal from reading this book. I knew next to nothing about Edith and Woodrow Wilson's marriage, and even though much has been written about Eleanorand Franklin Roosevelt, hers is a great story, too. (Don't get me started about "Hyde Park on Hudson".) It seemed to be well researched and written. I did feel that the author sort of rushed through the last First Lady in the book (Laura Bush). Although I am not a fan of her husband, I think there was more to Laura's story that could have been told. Highly recommend it nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 1/19/2014

    " It is about 12 presidential wives in recent history. I thought it was fasinating. It is a quick overview so it doesn't go into a lot of detail but it explores who these wives coped and dealt with being first ladies. I liked it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 1/9/2014

    " :) Great election year read. It was a fascinating history of presidential marriages - I really learned a lot about these women. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy Kehoe | 1/3/2014

    " This was interesting but I didn't like it. It made me distrust the men that are our Presidents. I like to live in a world were only great men are President. Most of them I hated the way they treated their wives. Then I hated some of the wives. It seems you just can't win with a man in power! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi Novotny | 12/27/2013

    " The chapter on Laura Bush didn't mention her being a librarian or starting the Texas Book Festival. Disappointing! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angelyn | 12/25/2013

    " A very interesting book about the wives of latest presidents. She tried not to be biased but couldn't help it as anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mimi Stamper | 12/23/2013

    " Loved the insight into presidential marriages, the strength it requires of both husband and wife, and the toll it takes on both. Each marriage was/is so different. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth Mitchell | 12/22/2013

    " Very interesting. New perspective on history. So many first ladies lost parents early in life; did that lead them to marrying powerful men? Makes me want to read more about presidential history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 12/21/2013

    " Fascinating look into presidential marriages, a great election year read =) Some good history lessons, too. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mukeary | 12/11/2013

    " Pretty much a re-hash of other essays of presidential couples but with a little more gossip. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 10/14/2013

    " I found this book fascinating. The author clearly did lots of research to write this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denise | 8/29/2013

    " Interesting look into presidents' lives through history. Very often they are more alike than different. The power that their wives carry throughout their tenure is amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 7/7/2013

    " This book was an eye opener, not that I have ever doubted the power of women when a man loves her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Hammock | 6/30/2013

    " If you like U.S. History; you will love this book. It talks about the Presidents and their wives while they were in the White House. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 JanieceK | 6/24/2013

    " There were many things about the presidents themselves, as well as the first ladies that I did not know. My conclusion is that it's a difficult job and almost impossible to come away from it with anything but a negative image. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Currit | 5/8/2013

    " Fun way to learn modern history---presidents studied through their marriages and how those marriages affected their ability to serve as president. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 4/23/2013

    " Very interesting - especially in light of the political craziness we are currently in the middle of. This is a pretty candid look into presidential marriages of the last century and the influence the women in the White House had on the Presidency. Wonder how Bill Clinton would fit into this premise? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shawna | 3/18/2013

    " This is a unique read for anyone from politics buffs, those interested in history, anyone that has lived under any of these presidencies, or anyone that has ever loved someone. Even the footnotes and bibliography were fscinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/4/2013

    " I was taken aback by the Carter marriage. A good book. I recommend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet | 12/21/2012

    " I'm interested in politics and found this an interesting book on presidental marriages and the role of the first ladies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 11/20/2012

    " Fascinating look at presidential marriages. You know presidents have huge egos, but to live with them..... Pat Nixon totally lost herself and became a recluse, most of them reinvent themselves for better or worse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Virginia Albanese | 11/11/2012

    " Interesting analysis of how selected First Ladies influence their husbands. Some good anecdotal bits. Most of this I've,however, read before. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Petra | 9/28/2012

    " Did not care for this book at all. I didn't finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenn Temple | 8/5/2012

    " Read 4 of the stories, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Jackie Kennedy and Pat Nixon. It is amazing what these women put up with. An interesting read. "

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About the Author
Kati Marton is the author of True Believer: Stalin's American Spy; Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World; Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History; Wallenberg; The Polk Conspiracy; and A Death in Jerusalem. She is an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent. She lives in New York City.