The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple

The Gatekeepers

Chris Whipple

The Gatekeepers pulls back the curtain to expose how the nation's levers of power are operated by these right-hand advisors, and what each appointment reveals about its respective president.

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The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the White House Chiefs of Staff, whose actions—and inactions—have defined the course of our country

What do Dick Cheney and Rahm Emanuel have in common? Aside from polarizing personalities, both served as chief of staff to the president of the United States—as did Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and a relative handful of others. The chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," wield tremendous power in Washington and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push POTUS's agenda, and—most crucially—enjoy unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks. 

Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker’s expert managing of the White House, the press, and Capitol Hill paved the way for the Reagan Revolution—and, conversely, how Watergate, the Iraq War, and even the bungled Obamacare rollout might have been prevented by a more effective chief. 

Filled with shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details, The Gatekeepers offers an essential portrait of the toughest job in Washington.

Advance Galley Reviews

What a great read! Thanks to First To Read for an opportunity to read the advance copy. "The Gatekeepers " looks at the presidencies of Nixon to Obama with the background of their chosen Chiefs of Staff. A review of highs and lows of each administration is honestly told. Literally, the doom and success of the Potus is argely related to the choice of these chiefs ( of course ALL men to date)...Despite the hijinks that ensued in all Administrations,the public service , intelligence and love of country is a must for the people that surround The President. It will be "interesting" to see how the current WH will fare and be able to do the work of The People with little regard for Lessons lLearned...can't wait to read that book. You won't regret opening "The Gatekeepers"

I really enjoyed this book! I found it to be very short when you consider the subject matter. I feel like the author could've make the book twice as long and still be missing something. It merely touches on some of the big events that have shaped our country since Nixon. Gatekeepers covers the Chiefs of Staff for the President from Nixon to Obama, each with his own chapter (the Reagan Era earned 2 mostly due to his first Chief of Staff, James Baker), highlighting a known but not too well known character in the story that is the American government. Some lasted a long time (5 1/2 years) some not quite a long time (I believe one lasted less than year). It is not an easy job, not even when the country isn't in crisis. Trying to help the man governing a country of 300+ million is not an easy task as 300+ million people will all try to tell you how you are doing it wrong. Whipple shows how the chief of staff helped (or hurt) the president during major events that have happened over the last 50 years such as Watergate, 9/11, and various financial crises. Watching these events from the outside, it was eye opening to see how it worked from the inside. The Chief of Staff is a position many American's know about, mainly due to the West Wing tv show, but that was just a show and I found it enthralling to learn the history of the position and how it changed with the man behind the title. I found it easier to read once I got towards the end of the chapter on Bush and into the Clinton chapter as these were presidents I remember, events I remember. While I was alive during Reagan, I was barely 6 when he left the office. I'm not sure if that will be the case for everyone else but reading about things you remember sometimes provides you with a visual that really gets you into the work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how the executive branch functions, heck any branch of our government. I really feel like in the future, political science professors will be assigning this book to their students. It made me want to go out and read biographies on the various presidents discussed.

P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L. Could not put this down. Run, don't walk to get this book.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): great book. Every chapter could have been a book in itself, but Chris Whipple does an excellent job with the chronology, choosing the key characteristics and significant events of each of the chiefs he covers, and tying the room together. This isn't West his Introduction, Whipple quotes Erskine Bowles: "In an average day you would deal with Bosnia, Northern Ireland, the budget, taxation, the environment - and then you'd have lunch! And then on Friday you would say, 'Thank God - only two more working days until Monday.'" Eerie...all the wrong things done, all the undesirable characteristics of the presidents served by these men, and all of the failures of the chiefs seem to have come to a convergence. I can name a bunch of people who should read this, one in particular, but I doubt would. Wonderful access, and wonderful anecdotes. I loved the one about Leon Panetta balking at firing Rahm Emanuel... "While Panetta dragged his heels on firing Emanuel, Clinton turned to [Panetta's deputy Erskine] Bowles. Not once, but five times the president ordered him to fire Rahm. But Bowles refused. "I told him, 'Hell no, I wasn't going to fire him,'" he says. "The president would say, 'Why not?' And I'd say, 'Because every time you come out of that Oval Office and you've got some new things you want us to do, and I can't get the bureaucracy to do it, you know what I do? I give it to Rahm. And two days later he comes back and it's done! There are twenty dead people back there - but it's done!' " Sufficiently broad and sufficiently deep, though it certainly could have been deeper, I learned a few things, and not just about the chiefs of staff. A recommended read

A quote from the Introduction stuck with me throughout the book: "Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him (or her) alone." I couldn't help but reflect on this as I read the stories. The details are many and the reporting is shocking at times.


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