Book review: No Way to Treat a First Lady, by Christopher Buckley

originally posted elsewhere: February 13, 2004

tl;dr: Laughed so hard I cried...

It's a cliché, but true! I immensely enjoyed No Way to Treat a First Lady, and found myself chuckling almost constantly throughout, laughing out loud many times, and laughing uncontrollably on several occasions. If you read this book in public, as I did, be prepared to receive disapproving glances from others who aren't having as good a time as you are.

No Way to Treat a First Lady skewers the Washington political scene, the legal profession, the media, and in particular the Clinton scandals and the O.J. Simpson trial. But ultimately, like all great satire, it is really a no-holds-barred look at our current societal mores and norms.

A bright red book cover with the title and author's name, featuring an image of a hangman's noose made out of a long string of pearls

The main characters in No Way to Treat a First Lady are all composites, which is how Christopher Buckley is able to construct a storyline that departs from the actual events it is satirizing, but is still fully recognizable by anyone who followed the news in the late 1990s. You'll enjoy picking out references to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barbra Streisand, Marc Rich, Alan Dershowitz, and of course Monica - plus many others. Even Nick Naylor, the hero of Buckley's Thank You for Smoking, has a bit part in No Way to Treat a First Lady.

I've read most of Buckley's books, and No Way to Treat a First Lady is right up there with his best. I'd put Thank You for Smoking first by a hair, followed by No Way to Treat a First Lady, then God is My Broker. Thank You for Smoking is slightly more timeless, as No Way to Treat a First Lady's humor will dissipate somewhat with time, as people's recollections of the Clinton years fade.

Christopher Buckley can legitimately lay claim to being America's top working satirist. Keep them coming, Mr. Buckley, sir!