Lots of people have put forth theories on what makes Bill Clinton tick, but the most trustworthy source may be David Maraniss of the Washington Post
. Maraniss won a Pulitzer covering Clinton's campaign, and his book on the man is nonpareil; you simply can't understand Clinton without reading Maraniss's anaylsis of his past. When Bill Clinton is good, he is very, very good, and when he's bad, he's exactly like he has been all his life. Fair-minded but no apologist, Maraniss is essentially an inspiring reporter who, virtually alone among Americans, has troubled to interview Clinton's Oxford classmates and therefore knows that Clinton was, according to them, not
lying when he said he "never inhaled"; his classmates devoted hours to teaching Bill to inhale, but he just couldn't do it. Maraniss also casts light on what Clinton did imbibe intellectually at Oxford; precisely what he did to elude the draft, and its moral significance; how Arkansas politics shaped his political style; and what his character and marriage might actually be like. Yes, Maraniss gives us a comic scene in which fiancée Hillary comes through the front door of the campaign headquarters while a young female staffer is hustled out the back--but more importantly, Maraniss puts such events in perspective. As he once observed in the Post
, "The question of whether a president who cannot control his sexual appetite should not be president is a tough one. It might mean that most of our presidents should not have been presidents."
Steve Neal Chicago Sun-Times First in His Class
is a triumph of American political biography.
Jonathan Alter The Washington Monthly
This is a first-rate political biography. To understand why the shorthand on this man [Clinton] is so insufficient, this book is essential.
Joan Duffy The Commercial Appeal
Finally, a real book on Bill Clinton.