"The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the White House Chiefs of Staff, whose actions--and inactions--have defined the course of our country. Since George Washington, presidents have depended on the advice of key confidants. But it wasn't until the twentieth century that the White House chief of staff became the second most powerful job in government. Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him alone. He is the president's closest adviser and the person he depends on to execute his agenda. He decides who gets to see the president, negotiates with Congress, and--most crucially--enjoys unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. When the president makes a life-and-death decision, often the chief of staff is the only other person in the room. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks. Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity, whose members have included Rahm Emanuel, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, and Donald Rumsfeld. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker and Panetta skillfully managed the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ensuring their reelections--and, conversely, how Jimmy Carter never understood the importance of a chief, crippling his ability to govern. From Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the Iraq War, Whipple shows us how the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster. As an outsider president tries to govern after a bitterly divisive election, The Gatekeepers could not be more timely. Filled with shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details, it is a compelling history that changes our perspective on the presidency."--Jacket flap.