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.