Heart and Soul of the Nation

Cheryl Heckler-Feltz, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-48519-7
Heckler-Feltz has written an engaging account of the personal and spiritual natures of America's First Ladies. In her introduction, she suggests that many First Ladies were ordinary women who used their extraordinary position to become the nation's conscience. Feeling that Jesus' Beatitudes perfectly embody the collective actions of the First Ladies, Heckler-Feltz uses the Beatitudes as the framework for her book. For example, in ""Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,"" the author discusses how Betty Ford overcame her dependence on alcohol and founded the Betty Ford Center. In ""Blessed are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, for They Will Be Filled,"" Heckler-Feltz examines the First Ladies as social reformers: Hillary Clinton's advocacy of children; Barbara Bush's push for literacy; and Rosalyn Carter's battles on the behalf of the mentally ill and the mentally retarded. Each chapter ends with biblical examples of the Beatitude under consideration as well as with quotations from the First Ladies. This is a fascinating and appealing book, filled with telling anecdotes, poignant stories and accounts of courageous actions. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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