The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency

Kathryn Smith. Touchstone, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-1496-0
Journalist Smith (A Necessary War) grants readers an unusual insider’s view of F.D.R.’s political career by profiling his longtime private secretary. Marguerite “Missy” LeHand, a young woman with a modest background, an agile intellect, a pleasant personality, and remarkable stenographer’s skills, began working for F.D.R. in 1920, when he ran for vice president. Smith writes particularly well about F.D.R.’s struggle to bounce back from being struck with polio in 1921, explaining the disease and the origins of the Warm Springs, Ga., health spa that he frequented. LeHand was F.D.R.’s most constant companion during the 1920s, sparking rumors—convincingly dismissed by Smith—that they were lovers. The real core of the story is the White House years from 1933 until 1942, when LeHand helped create the vast New Deal bureaucracy. She decided who would see the president and when; today her title would be chief of staff. LeHand worked long hours but took time to enjoy the perks of the job, including a barrage of social invitations and fawning press coverage. Though Smith overstates her claim about LeHand’s importance to F.D.R. and his work as president, she delivers a fascinating account of one woman’s involvement in an important administration. Illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2016
Release date: 09/06/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-5011-1497-7
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-1498-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-6728-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-6727-9
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5047-8592-1
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