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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Number One Observatory Circle by Charles Denyer

We talk about touring the White House every time a friend makes the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. But, what about the history-packed Vice President’s digs?

Charles Denyer gives us an insider’s historical tour of Number One Observatory Circle in his new book. You’ll experience never-before-seen photos, access to candid conversations with former Vice Presidents, family members, and political power players.

“Charles casts a bright light on a little-known national treasure: the vice president’s house.” –BOB BURGESS, White House Photographer for Vice President Walter Mondale

Charles, a federal cybersecurity and national security expert and a noted vice-presidential historian, brings to life untold stories and memorable moments. All found in the context of this three-story 1893 mansion that’s quietly situated on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory…as well as the people who have been privileged to call it home.

What an absolutely lovely and surprisingly interesting book this was! I lived in Washington, DC for a number of years, so was familiar with the Vice President’s Residence within the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. But being “familiar” didn’t mean that I knew very much about the building itself (beyond its location and existence, which is apparently more than many people know, according to the introductory materials) – or its residents. The VP gets a bit of a bum-rap quite often; jokes, snide remarks, and eye rolling tend to follow comments and statements about both the office and the people who have held it. But under Denyer’s thoughtful stewardship, the house and the office are given a long-overdue respectful treatment that proved to be both insightful and enjoyable to read.

The coffee table-style book is a gorgeous collection of photos throughout the years, accompanied by fascinating tidbits of history from the earliest years of the office and its officeholders (and their private living arrangements), but its main focus is on the 40+ years during which there was (finally) an official Vice Presidential residence. After that history lesson, there are chapters that cover each of the Vice Presidents and their families in office since its Congressional authorization as the official residence in 1974. From Ford to Pence, the chapters describe life within the walls of One Observatory Circle in a respectful behind-the-curtain style that is both entertaining and informative. And the photographs presented throughout are simply lovely – capturing moments of family life, pomp and circumstance, the images are a glorious homage to this monumental building and the men, women, children – and pets! – who have called its walls home.

This would be a lovely gift for anyone interested in politics, the presidency, or political history. I will definitely be giving a copy to my American History-fanatic father!

My review copy of Number One Observatory Circle was graciously provided by the book’s publicist.

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