Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith

Title: The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency
Author: Kathryn Smith 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Touchstone
Publish Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "Widely considered the first female presidential chief of staff, Marguerite “Missy” LeHand was the right-hand woman to Franklin Delano Roosevelt—both personally and professionally—for more than twenty years. Although her official title as personal secretary was relatively humble, her power and influence were unparalleled. Everyone in the White House knew one truth: If you wanted access to Franklin, you had to get through Missy. She was one of his most trusted advisors, affording her a unique perspective on the president that no one else could claim, and she was deeply admired and respected by Eleanor and the Roosevelt children.

With unprecedented access to Missy’s family and original source materials, journalist Kathryn Smith tells the captivating and forgotten story of the intelligent, loyal, and clever woman who had a front-row seat to history in the making. The Gatekeeper is a thoughtful, revealing unsung-hero story about a woman ahead of her time, the true weight of her responsibility, and the tumultuous era in which she lived—and a long overdue tribute to one of the most important female figures in American history."

My Two Cents:

"The Gatekeeper" is the story of Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, who is probably best known for being FDR's secretary, right-handed woman, and rumored lover. This book seeks to shed light on Missy and the way that she affected the FDR presidency. I was drawn to this book by the promise of learning about a woman who history has seemed to forgotten in many ways.

I did enjoy this book but there wasn't as much new information as I had hoped for. A lot of the beginning of the book felt like very much a standard biography of FDR with some about Missy thrown in. Eventually the author began to shed light on what Missy's relationship with FDR and how she became a irreplaceable companion for him for so many years. Missy lived during a time where women are not always given opportunities in the workplace so it was amazing for her to see to have a career like she does with the White House. I loved hearing about this!

There are a couple places it's for the author made some generalized suppositions. For instance, when it came to why FDR never seemed to visit Missy after she falls ill. The author is honest about things she wasn't able to find out though which I also appreciated. I did love the pictures and letters she chose to include in the book. There were so many of them that I had never seen before! Overall, some of this book will feel familiar to those who know a lot about FDR's life but there are some interesting tidbits throughout the book.



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