American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady, from Hillary Clinton to Jill Biden

Crown. Feb. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780593240564. $30. POL SCI
New York Times White House correspondent Rogers looks at the role of U.S. First Ladies. She notes that the position is unpaid, and the duties are unspecified; therefore, the incumbent has the opportunity to make the job her own. The book’s introduction examines First Ladies before the Clinton administration and shows how the role has evolved since. Rogers applies specific characteristics—ambition, tradition, expectations, and even reluctance—to Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump respectively and details how each woman shaped the office during her tenure. The core of the book examines Jill Biden’s service in-depth. Rogers says that Biden embodies traditional traits, such as support for her family and her husband’s career, but she also continues to teach English, when her predecessors were not allowed to have other jobs. She looks at Biden as an asset to her husband’s campaign, as well as her role as the source of familial stability. She gives a brief comparison to men political spouses, namely Doug Emhoff, the current Second Gentleman.
VERDICT A thoughtful and recommended exploration of the often-contradictory office of U.S. First Lady. General readers interested in learning more about Jill Biden will especially enjoy this title.
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