The tale Mr. Whipple tells is a good and important one, if slightly incomplete ... Mr. Whipple’s argument is persuasive and his survey surprisingly interesting, given the bureaucratic nature of the job he is examining. Still, there is more to be said about the broad governing styles that shape modern presidencies ... But this quibble does not diminish the value of Mr. Whipple’s entertaining and engaging study.
Carefully researched and eminently readable, The Gatekeepers, which grew out of Whipple’s 2013 documentary The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, provides a fresh view of the modern presidencies. Whipple cuts to the heart of what, or more to the point who, makes a presidency succeed or fail ... In all, Whipple discusses 23 chiefs of staff who served the previous eight presidents. To Whipple, a president’s fate is determined not only by outside events but by the person he chooses to help him manage those events.
The Gatekeepers promises to offer 'shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details,' but there appears to be little of either in the book. Perhaps Whipple was too grateful for his access to cast a critical eye and dig beneath the glossy surface ... For a writer, Whipple’s text hardly inspires, but his chapter notes pique interest. Many of those cited (again, mostly men) hiss and spit at each other like cats being hosed.
He doesn’t quite justify his subtitle or even try particularly hard to prove its far-reaching claim, but he does recount a vibrant narrative of the real-world West Wing and give insight into the oft-mentioned but little-explained role of White House Chief of Staff ... The confident and fast-paced narrative is enhanced by having actual historical players contribute well-rounded (and sometimes surprising) characterizations of presidents and other Washington luminaries. In this page-turner of a history, readers will discover new facets of historical events that they felt they already knew.
With his carefully researched, bipartisan and eminently readable The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, Chris Whipple has written a must-read book for all who want a backstage view of the presidency, from the Richard Nixon years through Barack Obama’s two terms. Based on extensive, intimate interviews with all 17 living former chiefs of staff, former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, and many others, this is a treasure trove of experiences ... The remarkably candid interviews and reader-friendly narrative of this book make for very informative and entertaining reading.