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Fake Smiles

Fake Smiles by Tony Rogers

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Fake Smiles is a graceful, moving and reflective memoir of a contentious father-son relationship set against the backdrop of the Eisenhower and Nixon eras.

The father—William P. Rogers—was attorney general in the Eisenhower administration and secretary of state in the Nixon administration, a period of dramatic change from post-war stability to the turmoil of the sixties. The author—Tony Rogers—the shy, introspective oldest son of the Rogers family marched against the Vietnam War while his dad was heading the State Department, played guitar in rock and jazz bands, built ham radios, spent two summers working on farms and had no appetite to “get ahead” which was his hard-driving and competitive father’s constant mantra. Gradually and with great difficulty, father and son learned to accept each other.

An uncommonly literate, personal history Fake Smiles reveals fresh insights into a pivotal era of contemporary American history.

Tony Rogers describes the political, personal, and psychological challenges of growing up in the sixties with a powerful establishment father … a moving and very memorable tale, one that can help all of us better understand the issues of family, country, and finding your way.

— Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, and Kissinger: A Biography

A great story of a father and a son and their relationship at a difficult time for the nation and for family life in general as mores and habits were changing. The book is a pleasure to read and it stays with you for a very long time.

— Michael Lynton, former CEO of Penguin Books and Sony Pictures

Full of fascinating encounters — Robert Frost was a visitor, Senator Joseph McCarthy tried to teach Tony boxing — but above all a deeply moving account of the awkward competition and affection between father and son during an extraordinary era in America.

— Jeffrey Frank, former senior editor of The New Yorker, author of Ike and Dick: Portrait  of a Strange Political Marriage



  1. John Stillwaggon John Stillwaggon

    Hi Tony,
    I heard Walter Isaacson mention your book Fake Smiles during a talk with David Rubenstein, and promptly ordered it from Amazon. I’m about 2/3 or the way through, and enjoying it very much. I appreciate your openness and poignant reflections.

    One question—earlier on in the book, when you recreate family dialogue, your parents refer to each other by their first names when speaking to you children. As in (your father speaking to you) “This pool is the best thing that Adele and I ever did.” But later, when you write about your mother’s letters, she writes to you children and refers to your father as “Daddy.”

    In my own family, my parents always referred to each other—when speaking to the children—as ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’’

    Small point, and hope you don’t mind me asking about it, but was just wondering was this something that changed over time, because of cultural reasons? Also, was it common that people in sort of the ‘mileu’ that you grew up in would refer to the spouse by first name, when addressing the children?

    Hope you’re well, and will look forward to your other forthcoming books I’m sure!


    • John,

      For unknown reasons, I just came across your comment from two years ago. I’m embarrassed not to have seen it before. In answer to your question,the only time my mother addressed my father as “daddy” was in her letters to us. At the dinner table she called him Bill, and he called her Adele. I don’t know how other families handled it.

      FYI, the first book in a series of mysteries I’ve been writing since I finished Fake Smiles will be available on Amazon around the end of summer — Judge Randall And The Tenured Professor. Notice how I take advantage of my belated reply to your comment to plug my new book.

      Best regards,
      Tony Rogers

  2. Rob Rice Rob Rice

    Tony, I just finished Fake Smiles after seeing the mention in the Sidwell alumni magazine. Thoroughly enjoyed every page! Wonderfully moving memoir filled with history that clearly reflects on current events.
    The best part is I remember you from your visits to my family home in the 1950’s when you would hang out with my brother, Dick Rice!
    As the kid brother (11 years Richard’s junior) I always wanted to fit in with the “big kids”. I’m sure I was a complete nuisance, but your stories brought back so much of my childhood and young adulthood. I too marched on Washington iduring my Freshman year at Clark University in Worcester Mass .
    I don’t know if you and Dick kept in touch, but you probably know that he died nearly 2 years ago from an aggressive cancer that he fought for 7 years. He married in his mid-sixties and has twin girls who are now 12 years old and live in Boulder Colorado with their mother Katherine.
    I spent several years “finding myself” after college living in England and eventually attended Georgetown Med School and became an Ophthalmologist. I have practiced in Kennebunkport Maine for the past 18 years.
    If you are ever up this way I would sincerely love to show you our town and reminisce about Sidwell and D.C. in the not so good old days!
    Rob Rice

    • Rob,

      I’m not sure how this happened but I just came across your very kind message from three years ago. I apologize for this belated reply. Yes, I knew about Dick’s death. I saw him and his family in Vermont a couple of summers before his death, and he stayed with us in Cambridge once when he came for treatment in Boston. We were fellow jazz lovers in high school and spent a lot of time listening to records together and I visited him in Philadelphia when he was attending architectural school. It was one of those friendships where, when we got together years later in Vermont, it felt as if no time had passed. I miss him.

      Thanks again for your message and again I am sorry that it somehow got lost until now.


  3. Steve Sagner Steve Sagner

    Tony, I saw your book in a bookstore in Cambridge last wk and bought it.

    read it on a work flight from LAX to JFK last night and thought it was terrific!

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