[An] intimate, compulsively readable account of the dynamics that have shaped—and sometimes destroyed—relations at the top of the American political hierarchy ... Though Ms. Brower’s source notes make it difficult to tell which details are previously undisclosed, some seem newsy ... Alas, numerous problems plague the prose in First in Line, the most serious of which is narrative incoherence ... [Andersen presents] history as caricature. And the clichés proliferate.
[A] crisp, engrossing new book ... First in Line is not a deep historical treatise that examines the lives and times of our recent presidents. It does not need to be. Instead, Brower delivers what she did in her previous books, a readable, insightful account of how the vice presidency has evolved and the men could end up in the Oval Office some day.
In riveting fashion, [readers are] treated to insider info on the vetting process that each vice presidential candidate undergoes... a tour and history of the Observatory... numerous photographs, and endless engrossing details of the circumstances under which some of the vice presidents were suddenly catapulted into the highest position in the United States government, all in an endlessly readable volume.
Brower is quickly becoming a brand-name Washington writer because of her ability to deliver juicy tidbits and insider information while steering her books toward a mainstream audience without sacrificing historical credibility ... First In Line includes basic facts about the vice presidency a lot of Americans may not know ... Brower sprinkles in plenty of rueful remarks about being the nation’s No. 2 man in charge and its attendant frustrations ... Brower’s lively account is a brisk VP primer sure to entertain political history fans.
First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power, the new book by Kate Andersen Brower, is full of fascinating tidbits of information, as was also true of her previous books First Women and particularly The Residence ... As Brower masterfully reconstructs, the office in modern times has faced some momentous turning points, none greater than the one faced by Gerald Ford ... becomes equally clear throughout Brower's book that the nature and tenor of the job is entirely dependent on the President at the time. There are strong arguments why this should not be so, but they're not a part of this book's design. Rather, this is a detailed and deliciously quotable overview, something with a lighter touch and a far more usefully narrow scope than Jules Witcover's impressive 2014 book on the same subject. It's an engaging run-down of what is in many ways the least-enviable job in America.