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In the Shadow of the White House: A Memoir of the Washington and Watergate Years, 1968-1978

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For her first forty years, Jo Haldeman’s life followed a conventional path. While her husband, Bob, built his career in advertising, Jo comfortably settled into her role as mother of four, housewife, and community volunteer. In 1968, Jo’s world changed dramatically. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, and Bob was offered the job of a lifetime—White Hou For her first forty years, Jo Haldeman’s life followed a conventional path. While her husband, Bob, built his career in advertising, Jo comfortably settled into her role as mother of four, housewife, and community volunteer. In 1968, Jo’s world changed dramatically. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, and Bob was offered the job of a lifetime—White House Chief of Staff. As Jo and Bob discussed the opportunities and challenges that this move would entail, little did she anticipate the course that her life, and her relationship with Bob, would take over the next ten years. In this insightful, poignant, and guileless memoir of those ten years, Jo shares her story as the wife of H. R. Haldeman, often referred to as the second most powerful person in the White House. She offers a window into the world of trips on Air Force One, weekends at Camp David, and events at the White House, as well as family vignettes and the growing stresses of her husband’s demanding job. Then a bungled burglary at the Watergate erupted into a national scandal. The news began to feature the Haldeman name. Blaring headlines and vicious political cartoons accompanied new revelations of a cover-up. Multiple investigations and Senate hearings followed. Criminal proceedings loomed. Jo’s compelling account takes the reader on her journey from the heady heights of Washington life through an excruciating public resignation and trial to her husband’s conviction and imprisonment. In a true period piece, Jo illuminates the story of the “woman behind the man” and personalizes the Watergate experience. Enhanced by her personal photographs and the immediacy of her present tense delivery, In the Shadow of the White House is a fascinating work of nonfiction that reads like a novel.


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For her first forty years, Jo Haldeman’s life followed a conventional path. While her husband, Bob, built his career in advertising, Jo comfortably settled into her role as mother of four, housewife, and community volunteer. In 1968, Jo’s world changed dramatically. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, and Bob was offered the job of a lifetime—White Hou For her first forty years, Jo Haldeman’s life followed a conventional path. While her husband, Bob, built his career in advertising, Jo comfortably settled into her role as mother of four, housewife, and community volunteer. In 1968, Jo’s world changed dramatically. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, and Bob was offered the job of a lifetime—White House Chief of Staff. As Jo and Bob discussed the opportunities and challenges that this move would entail, little did she anticipate the course that her life, and her relationship with Bob, would take over the next ten years. In this insightful, poignant, and guileless memoir of those ten years, Jo shares her story as the wife of H. R. Haldeman, often referred to as the second most powerful person in the White House. She offers a window into the world of trips on Air Force One, weekends at Camp David, and events at the White House, as well as family vignettes and the growing stresses of her husband’s demanding job. Then a bungled burglary at the Watergate erupted into a national scandal. The news began to feature the Haldeman name. Blaring headlines and vicious political cartoons accompanied new revelations of a cover-up. Multiple investigations and Senate hearings followed. Criminal proceedings loomed. Jo’s compelling account takes the reader on her journey from the heady heights of Washington life through an excruciating public resignation and trial to her husband’s conviction and imprisonment. In a true period piece, Jo illuminates the story of the “woman behind the man” and personalizes the Watergate experience. Enhanced by her personal photographs and the immediacy of her present tense delivery, In the Shadow of the White House is a fascinating work of nonfiction that reads like a novel.

30 review for In the Shadow of the White House: A Memoir of the Washington and Watergate Years, 1968-1978

  1. 5 out of 5

    RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)

    5 stars. 🇺🇸🐎 This is another book that I will be rereading. She writes it well. I felt I time travel. I learned about the more about the Watergate scandal. I saw certain things ( without giving spoilers) in a better light. I was lucky to have borrow this book from a man who has seen history. I hope to do a full review down the road.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joelle

    Felt choppy in places, but was an interesting peek into a fascinating period of U.S. history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Shepherd

    This book turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. There was a lot of history that I had forgotten, and the refresher was very interesting. For example, I had totally forgotten the postal strike in NYC...understandable upon reflection. I had four small children, one an infant. I truly felt the emotions Jo Haldeman described during the Watergate years. She does not wallow in her pain and anxiety during what obviously was a very difficult time for her, her husband, and their families. This book turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. There was a lot of history that I had forgotten, and the refresher was very interesting. For example, I had totally forgotten the postal strike in NYC...understandable upon reflection. I had four small children, one an infant. I truly felt the emotions Jo Haldeman described during the Watergate years. She does not wallow in her pain and anxiety during what obviously was a very difficult time for her, her husband, and their families. Those of us who experienced this black period in American politics can see an entirely different side of the matter. I would recommend this book to young men and women interested in American history and politics. I received this book free through Goodreads giveaway.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom Rowe

    What a book! I picked this up because I was intrigued by the idea of learning what it would be like to be the spouse of one of history's "bad guys." No one imagines themselves to be the villain of their story, and here Jo Haldeman does a great job showing the human side of her husband, her family, and the effects of being near the pinnacle of power. What was it like to be married to a Washington insider at that time? How does one react when the press reports negatively on someone you love every What a book! I picked this up because I was intrigued by the idea of learning what it would be like to be the spouse of one of history's "bad guys." No one imagines themselves to be the villain of their story, and here Jo Haldeman does a great job showing the human side of her husband, her family, and the effects of being near the pinnacle of power. What was it like to be married to a Washington insider at that time? How does one react when the press reports negatively on someone you love every day? I commend Mrs. Haldeman for writing this. The section on the Watergate trial was the most compelling, and I think the most revealing. I couldn't put it down when I got to that section. If political scandal and its effects on family are to your liking, I heartily recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    Jo Haldeman does a good job in her memoir looking back on the 1960s and ‘70s, giving readers a look at what it was like to be part of the Nixon White House years. Her husband, Bob Haldeman, was Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff, and was often portrayed in the press as a type of Germanic tough guy. Both he and his wife were actually Angelenos, brought up in the Christian Scientist faith, and attended UCLA. When they moved to Washington from California in 1968, according to Mrs. Haldeman, life was fu Jo Haldeman does a good job in her memoir looking back on the 1960s and ‘70s, giving readers a look at what it was like to be part of the Nixon White House years. Her husband, Bob Haldeman, was Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff, and was often portrayed in the press as a type of Germanic tough guy. Both he and his wife were actually Angelenos, brought up in the Christian Scientist faith, and attended UCLA. When they moved to Washington from California in 1968, according to Mrs. Haldeman, life was fun, exciting and somewhat unbelievable; due to the fact the presidency was seen in a much holier light back then than it is now. There was great respect for the President of the United States, especially by those who supported President Nixon and believed he would make the United States a safer, more productive place to live, as well as end the war in Vietnam. It’s important to note that Jo Haldeman does not come across like a Stepford Wife, or a martyr, or anything other than an intelligent, sensitive, highly capable wife, mother and citizen. Much of this memoir concerns family life descriptions, including extended families on both sides, as well as Mrs. Haldeman’s concern that her husband was so rarely home after they moved to Washington; and when he was, he was chained to telephones. She’s not the complaining type, though, and back then wives often put their own needs far behind their husband’s needs. With four children, White House social obligations and volunteer work, the author actually had little time to complain. Then, there was a small newspaper article on a break-in at the Watergate apartments, and life would soon never be the same for the Haldeman family. Once again, Jo Haldeman handles everything that comes her way, even though she is eventually thoroughly traumatized by the idea her husband might go to jail; and how that would affect him, their children, their parents and their ability to pay the bills. Throughout it all, however, their marriage never weakens, because she and her husband are obviously a pair and part of a team, where there is no thought whatsoever of breaking up. Their Christian Scientist faith obviously bonded them, too. Bob Haldeman is presented in a very good light by his wife in this memoir, although she is happy to point out that the whole Watergate and prison experience made him a more sensitive, caring husband and man. Her belief of his White House career appears to be that he sacrificed himself for a greater cause and for Richard Nixon. While there is a lot of political stuff and court stuff in this book, this is really not so much a book about politics or Watergate; but a book about being a dedicated wife, mother and family member; about being a very strong woman with faith and purpose; and about being a citizen of the United States during a very turbulent, exciting time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pam Marshall

    Growing up inside the Beltway I found this book enlightening. It read like a personal diary, Jo Haldeman stood by her man until his death. I wanted to read it as the press keeps comparing Trump and the Mueller report to Nixon and the Watergate. It was no secret that Nixon was paranoid and socially awkward, but in the end, he threw those that were most loyal and protected him under the bus. Looks like history is repeating itself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Carson

    Beautifully written, behind the scenes account of Jo’s husband and those 10 years on the Washington roller coaster. Very personal, and yet familiar, a great read that earns a place besides her husbands memoirs.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gaynell

    Enjoyed this book. This book was so informative. I remember the watergate saga. I was a young teenager, not really caring about what was going on. But this book was so informative. I enjoyed it so much.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Peterson

    A real page turner I'm surprised to admit that I found this book to be a real page turner. It is interesting and enjoyable and helps to make a confusing event in history a little more understandable. A real page turner I'm surprised to admit that I found this book to be a real page turner. It is interesting and enjoyable and helps to make a confusing event in history a little more understandable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I was interested in reading about Watergate and the Nixon presidency from an insiders perspective. This book was illuminating and filled with inside details I relish. I am glad I read it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Williams

    A fascinating and insightful perspective on history written with great heart and powerful emotion.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda Richwine

    I couldn't put it down. Fascinating. I felt very sad for Mrs. Haldeman throughout the book. Her husband came across as cold and insensitive with her. I couldn't put it down. Fascinating. I felt very sad for Mrs. Haldeman throughout the book. Her husband came across as cold and insensitive with her.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Too much. Lost interest during the "trial" portion. Too much. Lost interest during the "trial" portion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A loving memoir to her husband lacking historical accuracy. I would hope my spouse has the same “tinted”perspective. Love is love.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mca Jean Gholson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Billie H. Burton

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann Baldwin

  18. 5 out of 5

    kare hager

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard P Friese

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joan Wooliver

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen Levinson

  22. 5 out of 5

    joan conway

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Peterson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Whytsell

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amber

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jo Salmon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ratcliff

  28. 5 out of 5

    Spotszilla

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mel Harris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Hegarty

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