I’m about 2/3 of the way thru Ike Hoover’s memoir. It’s a toboggan run of a read—just like JB West’s was. But Hoover is decidedly more candid in his appraisals of his employers, sometimes to the point of laugh-out-loud frankness. And what I took at times to be political partisanship I soon found was merely personal affection—or disaffection. His praise of both the Clevelands and Roosevelts is boundless. His admiration for both McKinley and Wilson is striking. He goes on for pages and pages about trivial events (Colonel House falling out of favor with Wilson) but says almost nothing at all about the entire Harding administration. And his distaste for the peculiarity of Coolidge and bald antipathy for the Hoovers is almost comical.
After sections in the Coolidge chapters with titles like “Coolidge Eccentricities” and “Coolidge Talks for Once,” a short section at the beginning of the Hoover chapters is called “Never a Kind Word” and starts:
When Coolidge reigned, we thought he was an odd person, but with the coming of Hoover, we changed our minds by comparison. Coolidge was quiet and did queer little things, but Hoover was even more peculiar. He would go about, never speaking to any of the help. Never a kind word or even a nod of the head. …
To hammer the point home, this section is followed by a section titled “Hard People to Work For”! On the other hand, he does grant that the very wealthy Hoovers were never stingy.
Also–disappointingly, Hoover describes the White House rooms only occasionally and rarely mentions where specific events took place. And he makes the strange error of suggesting that Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the Resolute desk.
Update: Dennis notes that the book was edited together from Hoover’s notes after his heart attack while still on the job in 1933, which explains the holes and general disjointedness, especially of the second half. Time magazine carried the story on the day, with the ironic conclusion:
Once he was offered $50.000 to write his memoirs. He refused, saying: “When I pass out, everything I know goes with me.”
Not if you’ve written it all down it doesn’t.