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Through Five Administrations: Inside the White House

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SERVICE TO FIVE PRESIDENTS Fifty years of service at the White House in various capacities, including bodyguard to Lincoln, William H. Crook's memoir brings an astonishing array of personal details of life in the executive mansion. His sensitive observations of Lincoln are especially moving. A well-known figure in Washington, Crook knew every president from Lincoln until C SERVICE TO FIVE PRESIDENTS Fifty years of service at the White House in various capacities, including bodyguard to Lincoln, William H. Crook's memoir brings an astonishing array of personal details of life in the executive mansion. His sensitive observations of Lincoln are especially moving. A well-known figure in Washington, Crook knew every president from Lincoln until Crook's death in 1915. He was a keen observer and his stories will entertain and sometimes surprise you.


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SERVICE TO FIVE PRESIDENTS Fifty years of service at the White House in various capacities, including bodyguard to Lincoln, William H. Crook's memoir brings an astonishing array of personal details of life in the executive mansion. His sensitive observations of Lincoln are especially moving. A well-known figure in Washington, Crook knew every president from Lincoln until C SERVICE TO FIVE PRESIDENTS Fifty years of service at the White House in various capacities, including bodyguard to Lincoln, William H. Crook's memoir brings an astonishing array of personal details of life in the executive mansion. His sensitive observations of Lincoln are especially moving. A well-known figure in Washington, Crook knew every president from Lincoln until Crook's death in 1915. He was a keen observer and his stories will entertain and sometimes surprise you.

30 review for Through Five Administrations: Inside the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    “The newspaperman, then as now, was on the outlook for a sensation. There was less regard for the truth then ….” I’m a sucker for primary sources. Even when--especially when--the writer reveals more about himself and his stop than he intended. Such is the case with this book. Crook takes us into his mind. We experience six presidents from the perspective of one who worked with them closely and personally, but was not involved in the politics of the day. “It must be taken as for granted that I am s “The newspaperman, then as now, was on the outlook for a sensation. There was less regard for the truth then ….” I’m a sucker for primary sources. Even when--especially when--the writer reveals more about himself and his stop than he intended. Such is the case with this book. Crook takes us into his mind. We experience six presidents from the perspective of one who worked with them closely and personally, but was not involved in the politics of the day. “It must be taken as for granted that I am somewhat prejudiced.” Not surprisingly, Crook sees the best of each man, though some reviled each other. He defends each president, even as he acknowledges that some (especially Andrew Johnson) poured burning coals on their own heads. “A narrow circle of New England theorists who, with their inheritance of inflated ideals and incomplete sympathies, had come to replace, by way of aristocracy, the social traditions of colonial times.” Snowflake warning: This was written more than a century ago. Crook’s attitudes and expressions will offend modern sensibilities, even of those who agree with him. But if we were denied his point of view, the whole work would be suspect. “Speeches in both House and Senate … filled with wild alarm, not for the country, but for [their] party.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln by William H. Crook The author, William H. Crook, a Union Army veteran and member of the Washington Police force is hired in January 1865 as one of the bodyguards for the White House. This book gives a first-hand account of his interactions with five presidents and their families; Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, and Chester A. Arthur. Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln by William H. Crook The author, William H. Crook, a Union Army veteran and member of the Washington Police force is hired in January 1865 as one of the bodyguards for the White House. This book gives a first-hand account of his interactions with five presidents and their families; Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, and Chester A. Arthur. The reader learns about the presidents in a personal way than is normally not covered by books written by historians. The book is an enjoyable read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Murphy

    This was an interesting personal memoir of a man who served in the White House for 46 years. It is a personal account of the personalities and home lives of six Presidents and their administrations: Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hays, Garfield/Arthur. Garfield and Arthur are treated as one administration since Garfield's was so short. The author admired these men as he came to know them and provided insight for the reader. We think of them as Presidents. Crook knew them as men. I was most surprised a This was an interesting personal memoir of a man who served in the White House for 46 years. It is a personal account of the personalities and home lives of six Presidents and their administrations: Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hays, Garfield/Arthur. Garfield and Arthur are treated as one administration since Garfield's was so short. The author admired these men as he came to know them and provided insight for the reader. We think of them as Presidents. Crook knew them as men. I was most surprised at his treatment of Johnson since we normally regard him poorly. It was interesting to learn also that Hays said from the beginning he would serve only one term. He was ready to leave at the end of that term and did not seek reelection. I just found out Crook wrote another book, Memories of the White House that covers Lincoln through Teddy Roosevelt. After taking a break, I will read that also.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    I found this book at random and decided to buy almost solely based on the title. After all, the concept of a single person working for 5 presidents seems worth reading about. The book opens at an obvious spot; Crook is hired as a police officer to provide personal protection for Abraham Lincoln. The whole thing seems quite casual-this is before the days of the secret service. Crook was a normal man, and his observations were normal observations. He saw presidents with their wives and children, ta I found this book at random and decided to buy almost solely based on the title. After all, the concept of a single person working for 5 presidents seems worth reading about. The book opens at an obvious spot; Crook is hired as a police officer to provide personal protection for Abraham Lincoln. The whole thing seems quite casual-this is before the days of the secret service. Crook was a normal man, and his observations were normal observations. He saw presidents with their wives and children, taking joy in everyday life. Crook provides some much needed humanity to these towering giants of history. Though Crook is no writer, it's an enjoyable and quick read. Through the administrations his jobs often shift, at some points essentially functions as an executive assistant. This speaks to the relative casualness that people treated the government with. The idea that there was essentially no protection plan for presidents seems bizarre today, and that perhaps my biggest takeaway from this book. Worth reading for anyone with a deep interest in presidential history, but perhaps skippable for anyone else.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Baker

    This book was a bit of a slog. The things he chose to focus on were such a mixed bag. He spent so much time discussing the Whiskey Ring during Grant's administration and then barely discussed the entire administrations of other presidents. I kept hoping the next president he talked about would be more interesting. Glad to be through this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl kinney

    An inside and personal look at five presidencies I love history and I gave this book five stars, One for each of the five presidential administrations. If you love history, this book. Is for you.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sally Andrews

    Pretty neat book from the viewpoint of someone who worked in the White House beginning with Abraham Lincoln and ending with Chester Arthur. Interesting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This book will give you greater insights into the 5 presidents Crook served with - particularly Lincoln, A. Johnson and US Grant. He admits that being close to the presidents slants his views in their favor, but you still get a sense for the personalities of the presidents he served. It will also give some insight into the evolution of presidential administration during this period and scandals.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary Hamilton

    Colonel William H Crook was one of two men hired to protect President Lincoln, and he lived long enough to serve in four administrations following Lincoln's. His personal interpretations and commentary on the various presidents and life in the White House as well as in Washington D.C. are enlightening. I kept thinking how little has really changed in politics. Crook's personal evaluations of each president are interesting in themselves. Lincoln's humor, kindness, and the way he carried the weight Colonel William H Crook was one of two men hired to protect President Lincoln, and he lived long enough to serve in four administrations following Lincoln's. His personal interpretations and commentary on the various presidents and life in the White House as well as in Washington D.C. are enlightening. I kept thinking how little has really changed in politics. Crook's personal evaluations of each president are interesting in themselves. Lincoln's humor, kindness, and the way he carried the weight of the war inside endear him to the reader. Even when the author is not at first favorable toward a new administration, he eventually comes to regard each man as a personal friend, and presents an interesting view of their family and friend relationships. I also found it interesting to note the increasing distance created between the president and the public, as each administration has more demands placed on it. Nowadays, it's hard to believe our presidents once came and went without personal body guards. Even President Lincoln refused to hire guards until close friends insisted upon it, due to some threats made against him. Personally, I liked the story of one president who received word that someone planned to shoot him at a planned town hall meeting. He arrived at the meeting, strode up to the podium, pulled out his personal pistol and challenged his supposed assassin. When no one volunteered, he laid the gun on the top of the podium and commenced with the meeting. This book will provide the reader with insights into politics both then and now, because as I said, things haven't changed all that much. Anyone with interest in American history and American politics would enjoy this book, but I believe even those who have no such interest would find it a pleasurable read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    William Henry Crook was one of four body-guards to President Abraham Lincoln. He lived in close proximity with, and spent much time with the President and his family. He was not on guard the night Lincoln was assassinated, and he blamed his fellow body-guard, Parker, for leaving his post. He said that if he himself (Crook)had been on duty, Lincoln would not have died. After the tragedy, Crook continued to work in the White House, for a total of 50 years, under 12 presidents. This book comprises h William Henry Crook was one of four body-guards to President Abraham Lincoln. He lived in close proximity with, and spent much time with the President and his family. He was not on guard the night Lincoln was assassinated, and he blamed his fellow body-guard, Parker, for leaving his post. He said that if he himself (Crook)had been on duty, Lincoln would not have died. After the tragedy, Crook continued to work in the White House, for a total of 50 years, under 12 presidents. This book comprises his memoirs of life in the White House during the Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur administrations. The sections on Garfield and Arthur are only minimally treated, however. This is a fascinating book by a bright, warm, and observant insider to what daily life in the White House was like way back when. Crook is an excellent chronicler of the "inside" view.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A great historical insight into five presidential administration. I was astonished at some of the things I learned in this book. Mr. Crook revealed whose irresponsible actions let an assassin near Pres. Lincoln's. Something else I found amazing and astonishing is the access to the Presidents in the White House by just about anybody. It seems hordes of people roamed the grounds and the White House at will. I mistakenly thought that dirty politics were a modern invention but apparently has always A great historical insight into five presidential administration. I was astonished at some of the things I learned in this book. Mr. Crook revealed whose irresponsible actions let an assassin near Pres. Lincoln's. Something else I found amazing and astonishing is the access to the Presidents in the White House by just about anybody. It seems hordes of people roamed the grounds and the White House at will. I mistakenly thought that dirty politics were a modern invention but apparently has always part and parcel of the system. I found the dialog on his service to the first three administrations fascinating. After those the author dwelled on too much of women's dress and customs which was not interesting to this reader.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna Ballard

    The personal reminiscences of Wm. H Crook who first served as a body guard to President Lincoln and then served on the office staff in the White House from President Johnson through the terms of Presidents Garfield and Arthur. He spent a lot of time on the last few months of the Civil War and on the administrations of President Johnson and President Grant. He portrays both of these presidents in a different way than I had seen before. It was very interesting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz Banks

    This was written by a security guard for Abraham Lincoln who became a personal secretary for the next 4 presidents. There was terrible turmoil after the Civil War, especially with a Vice President from the South taking over, but the turmoil didn't let up with Grant. It is a first person account of those times and a look into the character and families of the men who served as President during and after the Civil War. 188 pages.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the insights of an insider to history.. William Crook worked closely with twelve presidents over a 50 year career. The book covers Lincoln to Chester A Arthur and it is disappointing that he did not write a sequel with the next six presidents. If you like history, you will like this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    A very incisive, most-readable portrait of six American presidents - Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield and Arthur - and their times by a man well-placed to observe them as persons as well as chief executives...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Russell G Edwards

    Through the pen of Mr. Crook we travel through five DDifferent pr.esidencies, all interesting in their own right , and this man not only supplies a connection to all, but is a friend and confidant at times of need.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sally Smith

    Very Interesting I loved reading the account of this presidential bodyguard as he shared personal observations of 5 presidents and their activities, personalities, families, and policies. It made history come alive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deb Stransky

    Interesting book about the inside workings of the White House through 5 administrations starting Lincoln to Hayes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Crook tells about the life and times of five presidents. He tells about what goes on in the president's office and also about the family life

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Semmens

    pretty interesting info surrounding political and social climate during administrations from Lincoln to Arthur. worth reading

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patti Tindal

    I struggled with this book. It just didn't grab me like other presidential books have. Maybe because it was from the eighteen hundreds. Not sure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Not the best I've ever read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Phelps

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Lagodney

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas G

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Cross

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Rotzoll

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sue Singleton

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