Author’s Books & Media

Carl Anthony has authored a dozen books, including three historical overviews and four full-length biographies.  A link for purchase at Amazon is provided for each, including titles obtained through booksellers.

First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives and Their Power, 1789-1960, v. 1 (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 1990)

First Ladies volume 2First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives and Their Power, v. 2 1961-1990

First Ladies v 1The two-volume First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives and Their Power, is the only fully-comprehensive overview of the evolving role of the American First Lady, beginning with the ride of Martha Washington by coach from her Virginia plantation home Mount Vernon to the capital city of New York in 1789, and concluding 200 years almost to the day, with Barbara Bush in her first months as First Lady, in 1989.

It is the first book to place the First Ladies in a political context of the American Presidency and reveal not only the overt policy influence they had but the more subtle and covert emotional and personal power they held in their marriages with husbands who happened to also be leaders of the free world.

Instead of the traditional biography-by-biography approach of compendiums, First Ladies uses the chronological timeline to trace the rise to power, the White House incumbency and the post-presidential years of each individual women. This offers the narrative many scenes when future, present and past First Ladies find their lives and stories intertwining and, sometimes, conflicting with each other.

The saga is enriched by understanding these women more fully as symbols of their era by considering their response to the technological, human rights, entertainment, popular music and other aspects of everyday life of their times throughout the American nation’s ongoing history.

     First Ladies is a much-needed examination. What gives this book unexpected power is Anthony’s ability to see past both the cliches and historical facts to assess the ways almost all First Ladies exercised power. 

The San Francisco Chronicle

     One of the first to study First Ladies at any length, Mr. Anthony, in his engrossing volumes, argues they were more important than generally thought.

The Dallas Morning News

     This engaging combination of political analysis, social history, and biography…offers vivid portraits of these talented, strong-willed women who wielded steel fists inside velvet gloves…Staggeringly researched, richly sympathetic, and teeming with human interest.

Kirkus Reviews

     The author makes history entertaining by intertwining different eras…a comprehensive, instructive view of women who, though unelected, render service to their country in diverse ways.

Publishers Weekly

This reviewer commented enthusiastically upon the first volume of this stylish work, which now concludes with an insider’s look at the power and influence of the most recent First Ladies….Private papers, personal photographs, and interviews with the First Ladies enliven this brilliantly accessible, definitive history. Anthony’s engaging writing style makes this an entertaining reading experience.

Library Journal

As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Words of Her Friends and Family (HarperCollins, 1997)

As We Remember Her Jacqueline Kennedy OnassisFirst Lady Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, childhood friends and dozens of others share their fond recollections of Jackie in As We Remember Her. This is the first time many of these people have ever spoken publicly about her, and the portrait that emerges is quite revealing. Behind the image of one of the 20th-century’s most recognizable icons was a surprisingly substantive person — a woman whose intelligence and political savvy were as remarkable as her famous charm and beauty. Jackie plunged fresh out of college into the world of journalism with her own girl-on-the-street column for the Washington Times-Herald.

As First Lady, she waged campaigns on behalf of education, the arts and historic preservation, rescuing Washington’s famed Lafayette Square from demolition. She was also a primary force in the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The oral history biography is the only one about Jackie Kennedy Onassis to trace her own talents as a writer, journalist, editor, photographer and watercolor artist. It also offers evidence of not only her acute political skill, tactical sensibilities in negotiating, and covert influence on the presidency, but her public success in later lobbying the U.S. Supreme Court. Her views on racism, the women’s movement and other contemporary issues of her lifetime are also fully explored. The entire book draws in large part from her own private letters, poems, essays, articles and book introductions.

As We Remember Her is the first book to closely examine the period Jackie Onassis called “the happiest time of my life,” her publishing career from 1975 to 1994, the untold story of her concern regarding America’s engagement in Vietnam, first manifested as a single woman while working as a reporter, and her role in the failed 1980 presidential campaign of her brother-in-law Ted Kennedy.

A full-length feature film script for the 2013 market has been adapted from the book.

Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age & the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President (William Morrow, 1998)

Florence Harding

A major new biography reveals the never-before-told story of First Lady Florence Harding’s phenomenal rise to power.

The daughter of an abusive father in small-town Ohio, mother at a young age to an illegitimate child, Florence Harding saw her escape in Warren Harding, and became the driving force behind his ascent to one of the most scandal-ridden presidencies in United States history.

Anthony not only captures the drama of Florence Harding’s personality, but he uses the White House to bring to life Jazz Age America — a world of speakeasies and Miss America, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, and the rise of Hollywood.

He shows how Florence’s friendship with Evalyn McLean, the morphine-addicted owner of the Hope Diamond and The Washington Post was one of the defining bonds in her public life.

With newly unsealed medical information, Florence Harding finally unfolds the mystery of whether the First Lady poisoned the President.

     The real Harding story, as told by Carl Anthony in his biography, reads like the screenplay of a David Lynch film, with layer upon layer of suspicion, deception and deceit.

New York Times

     A riveting, novelistic bio.

Entertainment Weekly

     A titillating–and unquestioningly entertaining look at an early 20th century political marriage devoid of a mundane moment. 

Time Magazine

Think Hillary Clinton has it tough? Then read this.

People Magazine

Florence Harding’s story is absorbing, poignant and dramatic.

The Washington Post

     Anthony has produced an engrossing, full-breadth biography.

Publishers Weekly

Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady Of the Ragtime Era (HarperCollins Perennial, 2006)

Nellie Taft

On the morning of William Howard Taft’s inauguration, Nellie Taft publicly expressed that theirs would be a joint presidency by shattering precedent and demanding that she ride alongside her husband down Pennsylvania Avenue, a tradition previously held for the outgoing president.

In an era before Eleanor Roosevelt, this progressive First Lady was an advocate for higher education and partial suffrage for women, initiated legislation to improve working conditions for federal employees, and she freely broke racial and class boundaries.

Drawing from previously unpublished diaries, a lifetime of love letters between Will and Nellie, and detailed family correspondence and recollections, critically acclaimed presidential family historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony develops a riveting portrait in Nellie Taft, showing her as one of the strongest links in the series of women from Abigail Adams to Hillary Rodham Clinton — often critically declared “co-presidents.”

     A balanced, thoughtful and altogether interesting look at an unjustly neglected figure…Refreshing, illuminating, a charming, readable and well-researched biography.

Charlotte News & Observer

     “Unconventional” is right: a pleasing biography of a beer-drinking, card-playing, cigarette-smoking presidential wife who insisted on a place at the political table… Anthony paints a vivid portrait. 

Kirkus Reviews 

     Carl Sferrazza Anthony…presents an appealingly original woman with a lifelong sense of adventure. A lively biography.

American Heritage Magazine

An Invitation to the White House by Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Introduction by Carl Sferrazza Anthony (Simon & Schuster, 2000)

An Invitation to the White House Living with History was the last of the three books written by Hillary Clinton while she was First Lady the introduction was written by this website's author.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 Sferrazza Anthony writes in his introduction, “This book makes the rooms come alive — one can almost taste the food and hear the music.”

America’s First Families: An Inside View of 200 Years of Private Life In the White House (Touchstone Books, 2006)

America's First FamiliesPacked with more than 300 photographs from archives and private collections — many published here for the first time — entertaining anecdotes, political analysis, the dynamics of family relationships, and behind-the-scenes gossip, America’s First Families offers the first up-close look at the families — from John and Abigail Adams in 1800 to Bill and Hillary Clinton — who have intrigued and entranced the American public for two centuries. Carl Sferrazza Anthony opens the door to the world’s most famous residence to reveal life as it was actually lived there. He takes readers into the heart of loyalties and estrangements, and the emotional pressures that politics brings to bear upon the forty White House families, from their arrivals to their “notices to vacate.” Readers will enjoy an unprecedented tour of the previously unseen private rooms as used and decorated by each family. Revealed too are the personal proclivities of the presidents and how their families both sustained them through public crises and were used for political advantage.

They’ll get a firsthand look at the preparations for White House weddings and other occasions; meet the parents and children of the presidents — as well as eccentric relatives; and discover the patterns of working, resting, and relaxing that shaped the nuts and bolts of family life.  A magnificent combination of visual delights and insider information, America’s First Families is an irresistible invitation to spend some time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

     A delightful volume…a wealth of entertaining anecdotes… and packed with loads of tidbits about first families, this intimate miscellany is great for browsing; those who like their history light and easy will want this for their coffee table.

Publishers Weekly

     Anthony presents the human side of both familiar and obscure presidents and their families…[and] offers an intimate and objective perspective.

Library Journal

The Kennedy White House: Family Life and Pictures, 1961-1963 (Touchstone Books  2002)

The Kennedy White House

Beginning on Inauguration Day in 1961 and ending with the sad chore of packing up, The Kennedy White House: Life & Pictures, 1961-1963, by Carl Sferrazza Anthony charts the life of the first family with the greatest intimacy. This comes from the illustrations—hundreds of family snapshots, most of them never before published (or, for that matter, seen by non-Kennedys).

Among them is a picture of JFK listening to his brother-in-law Peter Lawford aboard a yacht (which is amusing because of Kennedy’s tremendous solemnity, as if the movie actor were offering advice on missile throw-weight), Caroline in a JFK mask alongside the real thing, and the children during their last White House Christmas amid a sea of presents sent them by Americans; they were allowed to choose one each.

Ida McKinley: Turn-Of-The-Century First Lady through War, Assassination & Secret Disability (Kent State University Press, 2013 Forthcoming)

ISMMOCKBOOKCOVERTo most observers, she was a daughter of Victorian wealth and privilege. In reality, she was delivered into the world by a leading abolitionist, educated by a leading women’s suffrage advocate, and urged by her father to earn her own living in what was then an exclusively-male world of banking. Those are just a few of the myths reversed about the  25th U.S. President’s wife in this first full-length and deeply researched biography.  Usually viewed with melodramatic pathos as the idealized Victorian “invalid,” Ida Saxton McKinley’s story is a rich and unusual one with a surprising end of personal triumph.

Granddaughter of two founders of Canton, she always considered the Ohio city her only true home – yet at age 22, embarked on a six-month exploration of Europe that forever altered her view of the world. Especially conscious of the challenges faced by self-supporting women, she made no great rush into marriage with the Civil War hero and young lawyer she called “the Major,” William McKinley, a transplant to Canton. In fact, McKinley was neither her first love nor the only man she dated.  As Ida McKinley shows through assiduously researched new evidence, it was Ida’s prominent family, the Saxtons, whose success McKinley used in his climb to political power. Within five years of marriage, however,the course of both Ida and William McKinley is forever altered by a rapid series of family deaths and an accident which led to her lifelong disabilities, including the one kept secret from the public because of societal ignorance about its true nature – epilepsy.

Through vigilant care and protection of her as his constant political companion, McKinley grew so popular that his devotion was exploited to elect him President and sustain his popularity. With new evidence that Mrs. McKinley was, on the one hand, carelessly overmedicated to the point of danger and, on the other, often in excellent health, all previous perceptiobs of her are challenged. A considerable political force, Ida McKinley exercised enormous emotional power over the President. Her influence ranged from imploring he adopt a policy to retain the Philippine Islands to helping the Rough Rider Cavalry go on to glory during her husband’s controversial Spanish-American War and abetting the fiercely ambitious Theodore Roosevelt.  Her greatest challenge in life comes towards the end as she faces life without her “Major” following his 1901 assassination.

Heads of State: The Presidents as Everyday Useful Household Items In Pewter, Plastic, Porcelain, Copper, Chalk, China, Wax & Walnut (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004)

Heads of StateThere’s room for only four presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore, but Heads of State more than makes up for those presidents who aren’t carved in stone, and still includes Washington (as a thimble), Jefferson (as a vase), Lincoln (as a paper clip), and Roosevelt (as a whistle)!

Since the earliest days of the presidency, the American people have either loved or loved to hate their president.

And in the American spirit of entrepreneurship, some have used their know-how to merge commemoration with commerce, creating mass-produced, marketable household items that bring the president’s face into every home.

Heads of State celebrates these objects, highlighting through lively text and extensive research the humorous, sometimes strikingly apt parallels between the chief executives and the objects used to portray them. It’s the perfect book for anyone fascinated by politics, Americana, and the way in which presidents have been memorialized, satirized, romanticized, and worshiped by the very people they serve.

 

America’s Most Influential First Ladies (Oliver Press, 2003)

America's Most Influential FLsFor a young adult audience, America’s Most Influential First Ladies examines the contributions and accomplishments of eleven presidential wives: Dolley Madison, Mary Lincoln, Nellie Taft, Florence Harding, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, and Nancy Reagan.

“This Elevated Position…” A Catalog and Guide to the National First Ladies Library (NFLL, 2003)

This Elevated Position A Catalogue and Guide to the National First Ladies Libary

A look at the importance of the study of First Ladies in presidential history, women’s history and other aspects of American history through the objects, papers and items of this national museum collection and research library center.

Print Media

editorial authored, “When Spouses Talk, Voters Listen,” The New York Times, September 5, 2012

profiled, “The Five Books Interview,” The Browser: Writing Worth Reading, May 24, 2011

quoted, “Jacqueline Kennedy’s Pink Hat is a Missing Piece of History,” Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2011

Broadcast Media

commentary, “Dolley Madison,” PBS, American Experience, March 1, 2010

commentary, “Hillary Clinton: Most Admired Woman,” CNN, December 30, 2010

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/12/30/exp.dougherty.clinton.most.admired.cnn?iref=allsearch

commentary, “Inaugurations,” CNN Larry King Live, January 20, 2005

commentary, “Presidential Candidates’ Spouses,” October 31, 2004

appearance, “Gore Vidal: Hollywood Party,” clip, PBS documentary 2003


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  1. McKinley & Roosevelt: Teddy’s Crack Behind Mack’s Back, Egotism & Death « Carl Anthony Online
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