Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Book Review: 'Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives' by Anne Michaud

Why They Stay by Anne  Michaud

‘The White Queen Syndrome’

Author Anne Michaud earned her degree in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School and serves as an award-winning writer for The Wall Street Journal. She has also written for The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Newsday, Newsweek, and Cincinnati Magazine among others. Her position in the US realm of journalism is impressive, and now she has published her first book – WHY THEY STAY – that has been honored in the arena of Women’s Issues and Current Events.

Research and reportage can be informative, but Anne Michaud makes it involving and engrossing in the style and manner in which she writes. Focusing on facts, enhanced by her probing examination of data and her resultant insights, brings a fresh sense of immediacy to the ‘scandals’ she has studied. Her focus is on the women of the political pairings and she addresses these women as White Queens.

As she states in her Prologue, “Our modern White Queens were prepared from early life to accept the limits and burdens of marrying men with great political ambitions. Marriage as a goal in itself – and especially marriage to an important wealthy man – is an ambition for which women have trained for centuries, and it’s what I refer to as a patriarchal mindset. In White Queen days, there was a literal patriarchy: Men ruled. Today, a remnant of this power hierarchy exists in our minds – and to some degree, in the political and corporate worlds – especially among people of privilege and social rank. Politics reinforces this mindset because it’s a tradition-bound world…Couples who enter the political world are at least comfortable with its underlying culture and assumptions, and that comfort deepens over the years they remain in politics…’

After presenting her case for the traits of the wives whose lives and standings she addresses, this impressively written book examines the full facts about the marriages of Jackie and John F. Kennedy, Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hilary and Bill Clinton, Silda Wall and Eliot Spitzer, Wendy and David Vitter, Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, and UK couples Valerie Hobson and Jack Profumo, Marion Stein and Jeremy Thorpe, and Israeli couple Gila and Moshe Katsav. The facts are related as history: the insights and thoughts result in psychobiographies!

This is information to grasp, to digest, and to appreciate the stature of the women behind the thrones in a manner few authors can equal. The book deserves the awards earned and further honors Anne Michaud’s high standing in the spectrum of journalism!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.