First In His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $17.99
  • Save: $4.68 (26%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 16 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by BigHeartedBooks
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Book is in very good condition, there may be some minor wear from a prior reader or two but very good books are in excellent condition. Super fast shipping is available and we offer a money back guarantee.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

First in His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton Paperback – February 8, 1996

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$1.99 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

First in His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton + Barack Obama: The Story
Price for both: $26.52

Buy the selected items together
  • Barack Obama: The Story $13.21


Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at

Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684818906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684818900
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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.

More About the Author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and has been a Pulitzer finalist two other times for his journalism and again for They Marched Into Sunlight, a book about Vietnam and the sixties. The author also of bestselling works on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, and Roberto Clemente, Maraniss is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He and his wife, Linda, live in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 48 customer reviews
Well researched and well.
Steve Clancy
Mr. Maraniss paints an interesting picture of Bill Clinton.
Johnnie B.
This gets my vote as the best Clinton book thus far.
J. Remington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brian K. Peterson on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have held on to this book since 1996. I was intent on reading it as soon as I received it, but I held off for one reason or another. I am glad I did. By waiting until the end of the Clinton presidency I have been able to keep in mind many of the personal details of Bill Clinton and am able to to keep into context all of the things that have happened since it was published in 1996.
Within everything else that has been supposed and predicted about Bill Clinton and his legacy, there will be no doubt that he is definitely one of the most enigmatic politicians in the history of the U.S. It will be history that will judge how relevant the Clinton legacy will be. Perhaps 100 years from now this decade will only be remembered for the economy and the boom in technology. Who knows? Bill Clinton may not even be remembered as being the president of this decade--much like now when people cannot tell you who presided in the White House during the Gilded Age.
Those fascinated with President Bill Clinton will be because of his incredible adeptible personality. Clinton is the hybrid of all politicians to come before him. He is insecure & he is confident; he is short-tempered & he is relaxed in public; he is brilliant & yet knows his intellectual limits. His approval rating is high, but people do not like the man. He is all things to all people--loved and reviled. And one of his criticisms has always been his willingness to compromise ideologies--conservative and liberal--to get things done. This tends to infuriate both sides. If for anything else, he is NOT boring. Whoever we get as president this next election, neither Bush nor Gore will be nearly as interesting in the news as Clinton has been.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By cp on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Maraniss has written a gripping account of Bill Clinton's rise to power. It is a testament to the quality of his work that there is no feeling of partisanship. The picture that emerges is one of a thoroughly determined, charming and intelligent individual. Maraniss examines also what kept him motivated and more precisely, who. Detailed accounts of his mother and stepfather, of Hillary and his peers are invaluable to help us understand this highly complex character. What I found most interesting about the book was the extreme emotions that I felt about Clinton. At first, one can only feel admiration and respect for the southern boy who made his way to Georgetown, Oxford and Yale Law with the brightest in the country. However, power corrupts and as Clinton starts his political ascension, he becomes less and less of a sympathetic character. I couldn't give this book five stars for a variety of reasons. While accounts of education and early life are undoubtedly useful guides, Maraniss should have focused more on Clinton's political career. It only starts roughly three quarters into the book... Finally, the book ends with Clinton announcing his candidacy for president in 1991. Surely, we could have gotten a glimpse of the toughest campaign of his life. Nonetheless, brilliant book which you should buy to understand the man who has presided over such prosperity and created such controversy.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Above and beyond the demonization and canonization . . . before the scandals, successes and defeats . . . lay the strong personality possessed by a Falstaffian hunger for the love, acceptance, and power the celebrity of politics can provide.
Journalist Maraniss' possesses an uncanny ability to avoid all the hyberbole that has surrounded Clinton and cut to the facts and create a vibrant portrait of not just a man driven to succeed at all costs, but also of a generation seeking to find its place in history.
Maraniss' central thesis: that Clinton is the first representative of the Baby Boom Generation (and everything that statement implies) to enter the White House, forms a compelling historical tapestry on which to weave his narrative.
I've always valued in a biographical author, the ability to place the subject in the bigger picture and historical frame of reference and Maraniss proves most successful in this sense. He takes a great deal of time building the proper context in which to place the Clintons. Their collective rise to power is no accident. Neither is, in reading the book, their collective fall from Grace and relative political invincibility. They knew exactly how to tap into (and exploit) the collective unconsciousness of their generation.
First in His Class, also benefits from a most prudential editing. It really is tight in its narrative and commentary. Maraniss wastes very little in developing and defending his thesis. It is so refreshing to see an author remain so focused. Even his digressions develop his central vision.
This gets my vote as the best Clinton book thus far.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Graff on February 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I purchased First in His Class over a year ago, but having read six other "Clinton" books I needed a break. And then the Lewinsky story broke. David Maraniss does a superb job here. He doesn't dwell or sensationalize. What he does is give the reader uncluttered, readable, reliable biography. And then the whole Clinton thing, the "why's" and "how comes" becomes "perfectly clear." It's a fascinating life and a fascinating book. And it proves that quality biography does not have to be 800 pages long.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?