The First Lady of the United States or FLOTUS is one of the most powerful and influential unelected and unpaid women in the world. There is no formal training, no job description or specific classes to prepare a woman for this role. She cannot major in “First Lady” at any university. Each woman has both the ability and the freedom to make the role her own and craft it as she sees fit. Technically, because they are unelected and unpaid, they do not have to do anything. However, they take on the position like it was their job. Keep in mind, none of this happened over night.
Andrew Och is an Award Winning TV producer who has traveled the world in search of provocative stories. In 2012, He began his adventure as he traversed America for over a year documenting the lives of every *First Lady of the United States.* The *C-SPAN* series, *First Ladies: Influence and Image* aired from 2013-2014 to great acclaim and revealed the untold stories that helped shaped America.
I finished reading "Unusual For Their Time Volume 1" yesterday and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the book and that I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in our First Ladies.
Like most of my generation I am very familiar with our First Ladies starting with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis through our current First Lady, Melania Trump or by virtue of their husband's place in history (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, Mary Lincoln, Julia Grant, Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt).
Much of what I learned about Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was gleaned from the several biographies about Thomas Jefferson and a book I mentioned in an earlier comment about Martha Jefferson Randolph My knowledge however about most of the First Ladies you cover in Volume 1 has been somewhat limited other than bits and pieces of information I have picked up here and there.
You not only informed me about these women but brought them to life for me. I am amazed at how well educated many of them were in an era when not much thought was given to educating daughters. I was also saddened by the stories of hardship they endured and suffering the loss of so many children. It was enlightening to learn about the contributions these relatively unknown First Ladies made as well.
Soon I will be ordering Volume 2 and look forward to reading it.
Andrew had us on the edge of our seats. He definitely met and surpassed our expectations. His program consisted of previously unheard stories and new discoveries about our First Ladies. The material was useful as well as enjoyable for our group. His presentation style was dynamic, interactive and given with great wit and confidence. I found him to be friendly, focused, knowledgeable and relaxed. He inspired all of us to want to learn more about our First Ladies.
His books were for sale after the event, which he autographed. His presentation was great for those who do not know much about our First Ladies. The speaker was not tied to a script. He did not need one—he knew his material that well, and it showed.
I recommend Andrew to any professional group seeking to educate and
inspire its members about the unsung heroes of the White House: our
Mount Vernon, Virginia Daughters Of The American Revolution
Not only did Mr. Och teach a roomful of history buffs some new tidbits about Martha Washington and Abigail Adams and other First Ladies, but he thoroughly entertained us with new stories of their lives. Several of our members had heard Mr. Och speak in the past (one had heard him five times previously!) and wanted more! His jocular style of teaching history is spectacular. His books likewise echo his words. If you get a chance to hear him speak—go! If you get a chance to read his books—devour!
Mary Beth Cutting MD, 1st Vice Regent
Nelly Custis Chapter NSDAR
The Panhellenic Club of Annapolis had "First Ladies Man" Andrew Och as their speaker at their September 2018 Membership event. He fascinated the crowd with interesting and absorbing real life stories of First Ladies of the United States who were in a sorority - Grace Coolidge and Laura Bush - as well as First Ladies who were involved in higher education. Can't wait to read his two books, Volumes 1 and 2 "Unusual For Their Time - On the Road With America's First Ladies".
Panhellenic Club of Annapolis
Oh, what a night! Residents of the Preserves at Cumberland, Gettysburg, PA were treated to an exceptional evening of enlightenment and entertainment on July 31, 2018 when Andrew Och spoke to the group. The self-proclaimed "First Ladies Man" shared little-known facts and anecdotes about many of the First Ladies who he admires for their individual contributions to American history. His enthusiasm and energy kept all engaged. The author of a TV documentary and two books about the First Ladies emphasized how important the First Ladies were in providing inspiration, guidance, and advice to their spouses on all manner of topics great and small, and how they helped to set the course of the country.
Mary Frances Colvin
Andrew Och's books and second volume are delightful to read. His talk on the same subject, THE FIRST LADIES MAN, was entertaining and his enthusiasm contagious. He brought these women to life in a means our members of the Calvert American Antique and Art Association could not imagine. His introduction to Bess Truman was informative. He answered scores of questions. Why had Bess Truman spent little time in the White House? What was her impact on the President of the United States? We did not know her father had committed suicide and the effect on her role at the White House. Andrew's grueling year and months on the road to produce a TV series that was watched by millions was the formula for his books. His endless hours in cars, planes, and motorcycles would have made us ill.
Mr Och's conclusion that without Martha Washington as First Lady, there would not have been a new nation, no freedom of speech, no liberty for all...read the book and find out why? Attend his lecture and learn more about Mary Todd. Andrew connected unknown dots that made the individual First Lady remarkable and changed the course of history by the man the Lady married. Behind the scenes of each childhood revealed the personality of leadership, intelligence, creativity. Our group was dumbfounded by the concept that Betty Ford pushed ahead women's issues before they were " known". Mrs. Ford's experiences with breast cancer and drug addiction opened the doors for people to discuss openly about these heart breaking events.
We welcome another lecture of additional Ladies. We appreciated that he stayed at the end to sign books!
Calvert County American Antique and Art Association
"From the moment I first talked to Andrew on the phone to discuss his program I was hooked. His enthusiasm, energy and all-out passion for his subject matter came through loud and clear. As a result, I had a high level of confidence going into his evening program that the event was going to be a success - and he did not disappoint! His knowledge of the First Ladies is off the charts, and he has a prize-winning way of connecting with the audience. His objective was to be "memorable and fun" and he delivered both. I would recommend him without question."
Drew Gruenburg - Chief Operating Officer, Society of American Florists
Our group really enjoyed meeting you and hearing your presentation. The passion you bring to the subject of the First Ladies is contagious! Your behind the scenes stories were fascinating. We enjoyed getting to know some of the women we had not heard about before your presentation. Your book is filled with interesting pictures and stories. Thank you for opening up our world!
Kathy Spicer, Fort Worth Lecture Foundation
On the evening of October 16, 2016 a most wonderful and informative program was presented at our Transportation Museum by Andrew Och, an expert on the First Ladies of the US. Those assembled totally enjoyed this program by America's "First Ladies' Man." The audience was enthralled with the program and absolutely no one left before the program was complete--and we are a group of seniors! Almost everyone in attendance has requested that Andy return for another program.
Robert Boal, Garrett County Historical Society - President
"Andrew Och has incredible knowledge and energy when it comes to the First Ladies of the United States. His insights and storytelling literally brings these gifted ladies alive again. His presentations were truly a highlight of our program year, and we hope our paths cross again soon."
Pastor John Morris, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Dublin, Ohio
"Thank you for bringing in Mr. Och for his presentation. Two students in study hall came up to me and said that they really enjoyed the presentation. One young lady said it was cool to see "some dude" talk about the women in history because it is almost always women who talk about women in history. The kids were great, the presentation was very informative, interesting and insightful.
Thanks for supporting our students."
James Schafer - Dublin Scioto High School
Andrew Och truly does make history come alive. While listening to his presentation, I felt like I was in the same room as Martha Washington and Abigail Adams. His passion, energy and knowledge are impressive.
Jodi Finkelstein, Executive Director Montgomery County Commission for Women
"Andy Och knows how to tell a good story that also happens to be good history. Our Greensboro audience enjoyed his visit and appreciated his take on a First Lady born here – Dolley Madison – and many others."
"Looking forward to Vol. 2,"
Greensboro [NC] Historical Museum
"You were absolutely fabulous. I have had so much positive feedback. The group loved your presentation and look forward to having you speak at a future time. Your presentation was one of the best the club has had over the years. I look forward to the publication of your book. I had to force myself to get off your website, because I had other scheduled tasks I needed to attend to this afternoon. I will be going back when I can spend more time exploring it in depth."
Barbara Hitchings, President American Antiques Arts Association of Annapolis
"Och has a really fun way of describing these ladies and their relationships in a way that makes you relate to them."
Kristina Smith, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
"Quite the entertaining speaker and the expert on first ladies and
Tom Suddeth - Mercersburg, PA Historical Society - Founder
Thanks for a great presentation on our nation's First Ladies. *You told so
many interesting stories, we learned a lot of things we hadn't known about
a number of First Ladies, you answered everyone's questions knowledgeably,
and it was clear to all of us that you're an expert on the topic and
passionate about this project.* Great stage presence, too. *I strongly
encourage anybody out there who's interested in **Andy's First Ladies Man project to figure
out how to bring him to your town hall, school, library, or museum.
Wonderful stuff! *
Dr. Jay L. Gordon
Youngstown State University
Andrew Och, the First Ladies Man "embodies what our organization is all
about - entertainment and education"
Sue Huebner, President North Platte Town Hall Lecture Series
Andrew Och I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your work and postings about the First Ladies. They are so well written and share just enough that you want to learn about them. I share them with my daughters, who are 10 and 7, and they enjoy them as well. I look forward to reading them everyday. Thank you!!
Lynnette Valle, Florida Mother of Two
Thank you for your delightful presentation on US First Ladies. It was so interesting to learn about First Ladies that most in the audience have never learned about or who never had a good press agent as some of the more famous (and recent) First Ladies have.
We could have listened to you for many hours. I know that we will love reading about ALL the First Ladies in your books.
Safe travels wherever your adventures take you!
"Unusual for Their Time," was a completely engaging, educational and energetic program. Andrew made learning about the First Ladies fun and his dedication and passion for them came through loud and clear. I encourage him to continue this important work so that the lives of these unique women are forever in the forefront of our country's history.
American Council for Polish Culture board meeting members were entertained with Mr Och's excellent presentation. He entertained, recalled his moments with family members of the First Ladies. He had everyone wanting more information about these First Ladies. Such a personable person to spend an evening with. Highly recommend his presentation and his books. Thank you Mr. Och for a wonderful presentation.
I've read a score of books on America's First Ladies; however, none from this most unique and interesting vantage point. Half way through the introduction, I knew I wanted to take this journey, crisscrossing the United States, with Andy as my tour guide. With Mr. Och's marvelous story telling ability and extensive research, he transports the reader in time, making history come alive to meet these remarkable women—the person, not her celebrity or fame. A must read for male, female, young and old alike. Be it a professional, novice or skeptic, all will enjoy this delicious adventure. I devoured each chapter and am excitedly awaiting Volume II.
From spouses who bankrolled their husbands' entire political careers to those who closely guarded potentially damaging family secrets, first ladies have consistently laid the groundwork for the most consequential presidencies in American history. Andy Och makes the case for the personal influence of first ladies in a fun and entertaining manner.
- Lauren A. Wright, PhD, Author of "On Behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today."
No doubt about it! Andy Och is unquestionably the First Lady's Man! Armed with little more than a camera, an open mind toward women and history, and a super imagination which combines all three elements, he has created an epic part-travelogue, part-history, and totally delightful foray into the lives, the times and the places where an amazing assortment of women who became First Lady can take their place on a stage all by themselves!
Would have loved being on Andy's fabulous roadshow journey following the interesting society of First Ladies from Martha to Michelle. His insider true stories made them come alive! Our club membership awaits this much anticipated book!
Andy Och has given us a fascinating book that is part travelogue, part collective biography. The result of his time spent on the road is a unique history of the First Ladies that will undoubtedly appeal to the broadest audience.
"Andy Och's exploration of the lives of America's First Ladies is as rich and varied as the lives of those women themselves, and as unexpected. His adventurous, even picaresque, experience with the diverse people and places that enhance our appreciation of these extraordinary women, is both informative and engaging, giving us an important behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be on the front line of history in modern America."
From the very first page you know this is not going to be "just" another biographical overview of the First Ladies. In fact the very first page tugs you into the stories… the stories of what made the First Ladies "unusual for their time;" the stories of people, places and objects associated with these remarkable women; and the stories behind Och's transformation from documentarian to historian because of what he learned. Andrew Och's book is in part history text and travelogue, but refreshingly written from Och's insightful, and frequently humorous perspective. Although written in an easy storytelling manner, the book is rich with new historical detail about the First Ladies. Their lives in the White House are important, but Och also focuses on what came before and after proving their consequence as partners for their presidential husbands and icons for our nation. Thankfully this is only volume one, we will anticipate and look forward to many more stories as Andrew Och writes his way through the lives of our country's amazing First Ladies.
"Andy's hard work, research and passion come through in his words and this book. I applaud his enthusiasm and admiration for our First Ladies. The First Ladies Man is bringing these great women into the spotlight and giving them all the recognition they so well deserve."
"The US Park Service hadn't let a news camera into my grandparents' home for 30 years. Bulky equipment and bric-a-brac are not compatible. Then along came Andrew. He made promises about caution and hand-held recorders, which he kept. But more than that, it was his enthusiasm. It was infectious. Once in the house, he really enjoyed himself. Yes, he's accurate and thorough. But the fun is what really comes through in his work."
Andy's hard work, research and passion come through in his words and this book. I applaud his enthusiasm and appreciation for our First Ladies. The First Ladies Man is bringing these great women into the spotlight and getting them the recognition they so well deserve.
Och doesn't just tell a good story. He's read the documents, touched the artifacts and met the characters. His enthusiasm for and devotion to his topic are infectious. For anyone doing research that involves First Ladies, his books are a must-read.
"Highly recommending "Unusual for Their Time: On the Road with America's First Ladies Volume 2" is the easy part. Matching up to author Andrew Och's engaging writing, well, that's a tough challenge. He's traveled airways, highways, big city streets, back roads and country meadows to bring us up close and personal with amazing women. As a C-Span producer he did lots of research, talked with professional historians and visited well-known and little-known places. He also had one-of-a-kind moments with First Ladies' family members. (You'll never forget your visit to the Truman home with their grandson). Good history with humanity. I'm already planning my first road trip …
Without the enthusiasm and passion for his subject matter, the author could never have made this whirlwind journey into the lives of America's First Ladies. I find it an excellent example of the more you aware, the more you want to learn; thus, your life is richer. Volume One gave me a new perspective on this sorority of unusual, but historically obscured, women. It made me stop, think and appreciate their contributions, comforts and additions to the culture of American life. Now, for Volume Two, it's goodbye to Ida McKinley, the many in between, and on to Melania Trump! What is your guess?
I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Och while I was an archivist at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University. He was filming an episode for C-SPAN's "First Ladies" series focusing on Lou Henry Hoover. Andrew is a consummate professional who has delved deep into the history of America's First Ladies and is almost certainly the most knowledgeable person in the world on the subject. After half a decade focusing on the intricate stories of the women who have loved and supported their husbands in the most difficult job in the world, Andrew Och has truly earned the title of First Ladies Man.
This book is a delightful mix of biography, history, and personal storytelling. Little-known details about our presidents' wives are revealed, as well as particulars of Andrew Och's journey to uncover their stories. Unusual for their Time: On the Road with America's First Ladies II is informative, creatively imagined, and a good read.
The journey continues in Volume 2 of Unusual For Their Time (On The Road With America's First Ladies) and like Volume I, it is a sheer delight that does not disappoint! The stories, the travel log and the First Lady's themselves are all a fascinating read. Once again, Mr. Och takes you on an informative and entertaining odyssey into the lives of the women who not only shaped the White House but history itself. Through his inquisitive eyes, assortment of observations, ability to retain details and willingness to share personal antidotes, you are literally transported every step of this excursion, without ever having to leave the comfort of your environment.