"THE GATEKEEPER" is a book that brings back to life a singularly remarkable woman whose vital contributions to the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) - both professional and private - deserve to be more widely known.
Marguerite "Missy" LeHand came from humble origins in Massachusetts to work for FDR in August 1920 as his private secretary. At that time, he was the vice presidential running mate of Ohio Governor James Cox, who was running for the Presidency against the Republican candidate, Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio. Though the Cox-Roosevelt ticket went down resoundingly to defeat in November 1920, "Missy" would go on to work faithfully for FDR for the next 20 years, helping him (along with those persons - e.g. Louis Howe, a highly skilled political strategist who had been a supporter of FDR from the time he won election to the NY State Senate in 1910, and FDR's wife Eleanor, who would later form FDR's inner circle in the White House) thru the personal crisis caused by the polio that left him unable to walk for the rest of his life, to the slow and steady upward path to a political resurrection that led to FDR being elected Governor of New York in 1928, and 4 years later, elected President of the United States.
Though Missy LeHand's official position in the Roosevelt White House was personal secretary, she was much more than that. In many respects, she can be considered as the first woman presidential chief of staff. Indeed, Missy enjoyed FDR's complete trust and commanded his respect. She had a room in the White House near the President and played a vital role in the shaping of many of FDR's policies and initiatives. So much so that "if you wanted access to Franklin, you had to go through Missy." By virtue of their deeply close personal relationship (exactly how close is unclear to this day), "[a]s one of his most trusted advisors, Missy had a unique perspective on the president that no one else could claim, and she was deeply admired and respected by Eleanor and the Roosevelt children."
Sadly, this unique working relationship between FDR and Missy LeHand was not to last. The reasons for that I leave for the reader of this review to discover by reading this fantastic, well-written and researched book.