Reading "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages that Shaped Our Recent History" by Kati Marton (Pantheon Books, $25) is like eavesdropping at the door of the White House. Presidential love letters, pet names, arguments and tender moments make Kati Marton's chronicle engaging without being sensational.
It's fun to read, even if just for the little-known anecdotes and one-liners. For instance, when Betty Ford was asked if she feared Gerald's infidelity, she replied, "He doesn't have time for outside entertainment. I keep him busy."
But why do we care about presidential marriages? Because the life of a president's wife is "more than style, more than hairdos and White House decor and inaugural gowns and controversies," as Marton writes in the introduction. Throughout the book she shows how deeply and sometimes desperately presidents have depended on their wives for encouragement and criticism.
Be warned: Some stereotypes may be overturned. Edith Wilson, popularly known as the woman who seized power when her husband Woodrow fell ill, is portrayed as his loving "little partner," more protective than power-hungry.
Lady Bird Johnson, often remembered as blindly loyal to her philandering husband, shows herself to be a cool and self-possessed woman who said Lyndon's mistresses taught her how to dress better.
And frozen-faced Pat Nixon is revealed seeking friendship as a little girl does, offering to walk Diane Sawyer "halvers," halfway home, and then giving her a hug.
Throughout "Hidden Power," Marton's conversational tone and clear accounts of complicated events provide a telling look behind the scenes of some of the most scrutinized American marriages. She reminds the reader that presidents and First Ladies are still men and women, and that their relationships are about not just power, but love. Melissa Scott Sinclair
Search and Arrest?
Everyone is familiar with the judicial rulings that ban illegally seized evidence from being used in a criminal trial. But few are aware of the complex and tortured history of what has come to be known as the "exclusionary rule." In "Bombers, Bolsheviks, and Bootleggers: A Study in Constitutional Subversion," (Publius Books, $29.95) Leon F. Scully Jr. traces the development of that rule.
The story starts with the dynamiting of The Los Angeles Times Building on Oct. 1, 1910. The perpetrators, two brothers in the radical fringe of the labor movement, were arrested and convicted. But seized evidence would also implicate associates of the convicted men. This presented a serious problem for politicians of the day who didn't want to alienate a burgeoning labor movement.
To avoid this, Scully argues, sympathetic attorneys and politicians conspired to create another case in which they could gather a helpful precedent. That case was Weeks vs. United States, a case in which a possessor of illegal lottery tickets was subjected to two searches in which almost everything of value in his home was carted off. Having a man who was guilty of only a misdemeanor treated with such ruthlessness was the first step in an elaborate sham designed to engage the sympathies of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Scully.
The exclusionary rule grew out of a much-misunderstood amendment to the Constitution: the Fourth Amendment.
Scully argues that the cases which gave force to the exclusionary rule were exercises in bad faith. The evidence he presents is compelling. With a microscopic attention to detail he has succeeded in demystifying the histories of the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule John Toivonen
The Bookmobile Project, a mobile gallery containing a juried book-art show of artist books, zines and independent publications, is touring the United States and Canada. The objects selected for this show are housed in an Airstream trailer that will be parked at 1000 W. Broad St. on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Admission is free and the show is open to the public from 11a.m. until 5 p.m.
2 p.m. David Freed discusses the book art of Ken Campbell and William Blake. Special Collections Reading Room, VCU Library.
6:30 p.m. Workshop/demo "Altered Books" Sarah Hand. 1000 W. Broad, first floor conference room.
8 p.m. "Art Zines and Printing Methods" Kyle Bravo 1000 W. Franklin St., conference room.
For more information on the Bookmobile Project Exhibition, visit www.studioxx.org/bookmobile
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