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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hail to John Gartner for a Psychologically Sophisticated Analysis
"In Search of Bill Clinton" was the most elucidating, intriguing and insightful analysis I have ever heard about our former President. I was hooked from the first page and could barely put it down. While I never thought of Clinton in the terms presented by Gartner, after reading his book I will forever think of Clinton in terms of the framework Gartner provided. This is a...
Published on December 10, 2008 by Tracey A. Laszloffy

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Compassionate
Lots of bits and pieces about Clinton's history that tell us more than was known before about life with his grandmother and mother, one sweet, the other sour. I feel personal vindication, as I have always thought -- as the author apparently does -- that Clinton's mother's death was what pushed him over the edge and into the ill fated affair. I do not, however, care for...
Published on February 15, 2010 by letters2mary


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hail to John Gartner for a Psychologically Sophisticated Analysis, December 10, 2008
"In Search of Bill Clinton" was the most elucidating, intriguing and insightful analysis I have ever heard about our former President. I was hooked from the first page and could barely put it down. While I never thought of Clinton in the terms presented by Gartner, after reading his book I will forever think of Clinton in terms of the framework Gartner provided. This is a whole new way of understanding Bill Clinton that takes us well beyond the over simplified, pop psychology analyses suggesting that Clinton simply suffers from a sex addiction or the morally self-righteous judgments that merely accuse him of suffering from "bad" character. Instead Gartner suggests that Clinton has a hypomanic temperament which is an innate personality orientation characterized by extremely high levels of energy, optimism, creativity, charisma and exuberance (please note that a hypomanic temperament should not to be confused with a hypomanic episode which is a limit limited and mildly disturbed mental state). He goes on to explain that this temperament is combined with 3 (of 5) core dimensions of personality that Clinton happens to possess in extreme abundance; intellectual curiosity, empathy and extrovertness (by the way, the statistical probability of anyone s having these 3 dimensions in such abundance is one in quadrillion). In addition to this, Clinton is an intellectual genius with an IQ that is off the charts. His brilliance (which is further facilitated by having a photographic memory), his hypomanic temperament, and his remarkably high levels of intellectual curiosity, empathy and extrovertness are innate and remarkable parts of the man who overcame formidable odds to become our 42nd president. But the fun doesn't stop there. Gartner went on to contextualize these innate dimensions of Clinton's personality by unfolding his family history and the specific family dynamics that that underpin both the best and the worst of the Bill Clinton we have observed.

While Gartner's ideas are fascinating, what I really appreciated was the systematic way that he unfolded his ideas and provided rich and extensive data to support his suppositions. This data was obtained from multiple sources including extensive interviews that he conducted with over 80 people (it's an impressive list and even more impressive that he was able to get people to open up to him in such candid and revealing ways). I felt the greatest respect for Gartner's rigorous research methods, keen powers of observation, critical thinking skills, and analytical insights.

I also appreciated Gartner's style of writing which was clear, articulate and authentic. I felt his personhood throughout. He was never just a "distant observer" somewhere off behind a curtain reporting his material. Instead I was refreshingly aware of his presence throughout and it lent an air of credibility and genuineness to the book. Of course, Gartner is a psychologist, and I can see how these credentials greatly facilitated his work. He deconstructs his subject with a probing eye, yet at all times he treats Clinton with empathy and respect. As a therapist myself, I think he has conducted himself with the highest standard of professional excellence.

I found myself wondering throughout my reading, and especially after finishing it, if Clinton has read this book. I hope so, because what Gartner provides is worth more than a decade of intensive psychotherapy. As it quite evident here, I highly recommend this book. I think it makes a unique and illuminating contribution to understanding our 42nd President, and it demonstrates why psychological biographies make for fascinating reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Genius Uncovered, March 5, 2009
This is an utterly stunning analysis of perhaps our brightest and yet most flawed President -- performed by now one our most impressive Psychoanalysts. In this book, Professor John D. Gartner, lays a psychoanalytic trap that is so clever, so compelling that it ensnares Bill Clinton and his "significant others" into a paradigm that is as clear and convincing as it is at the very frontier of psycho-historical analysis itself. With great skill, clarity, sensitivity, and a rich and convincing set of data based on interviews of those who knew the Clinton family best - from Hope, Arkansas all the way to Africa -- Professor Gartner demonstrates how our 42nd President drops off the scale in two directions at once: That is to say, on both the high end of the intelligence scale, and the low end of the scale of moral and social and sexual impulsiveness.

The excavated structural theme which the author carefully integrates into a compelling narrative, which he then builds into an even more compelling psychological paradigm, involves three elements: (1) Gartner's professional judgment that both Bill and his mother Virginia were "hypomanics;" (2) the fact that Bill was separated from his mother for two critically formative years (from the ages of 2-4), and that he grew up in a dysfunctional family trapped between two powerful and sexually promiscuous but warring women, both of whose behavior served as Bill's unconscious models; and both of whom demanded (and gave) implicitly, total love and loyalty.

With hypomania providing the structural or genetic psychological predisposition towards impulsiveness, and with both his mother and his grandmother providing the unconscious raw materials for "acting it out," the young Bill Clinton internalized, and integrated into his personality, a flawed paradigm of life that included impulsiveness, sexual and otherwise, and an inability to check and regulate, or otherwise over come, the defects of his genetic wiring. The sad paradox is that hypomanics tend to exaggerate the very manic traits that made President Clinton a wildly successful President, a compassionate but insecure extroverted politician, and a morally flawed "Arkansas Redneck."

Being a fan of Clinton himself (as I am), Professor Gartner did not take the "low road" and try to either finesse, deny or immunize himself against being "sucked in" by a charming "uber bright" subject who the author admitted was one of his own heroes. In fact, rather bravely, the author submitted himself to a revealing "counter-transference" analysis of his own which he discusses in the book. Tragically, he was unable to interview the ex-President himself and a lack of such an interview (as the author well knows) leaves a gapping hole in the analysis. However except for this one omission, this analysis, this writing, and the skillful interviewing, are all first-rate.

On a personal note, as a member of Bill Clinton's foreign policy transition team and an expert in Arms Control, I was asked to cover his first briefing on arms control before the National Press Club. My job was to record any errors or mistakes Clinton might make in what was obviously an arcane and difficult subject, so that they could later be corrected in future presentations. Needless to say, for two hours and without a single note card, Mr. Clinton held the entire group spellbound. And without missing a beat, he covered the arms control waterfront with no flaws or mistakes, giving one of the most impressive presentations I have ever seen given by anyone. Even in the area where I was considered the reigning expert and intellect, Clinton knew "my brief" better than I did. I was then, and still am, blown away by that single performance. This window into the mind of the only Presidential genius since Thomas Jefferson is revealing and impressive.

Five stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but bad ending, November 28, 2008
I just finished reading this book. I was hooked from the very first page. The author was veyr thorough in his research of Bill Clinton, delving into his inner life through extensive interviews with Clinton's hometown as well as public figures that worked with the former president in his political life. He also carefully combs through the memoirs and letters and biographies of people in Clinton's life, as well as Clinton himself, to map out Clinton's psychological profile.
I saw a different side to Clinton through the author's eyes.

The reason that I don't rate this book 5 stars, though, is that in the final chapter, when the author flies out to meet Clinton in Africa, the book becomes excessive, with the author writing in almost hushed, worshipful tones of Clinton; he even claims that Clinton "glowed". It was too much.

The rest of the book, though was an easy read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the bill clinton i know and knew, February 15, 2009
By 
William F Harrison (Fayetteville, AR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I met bill clinton one evening in the early fall of 1974 at hermon's ribhouse in fayetteville, arkansas when hillary introduced my wife and me to him. After this, we became fast friends and after the campaign for the house ended in nov of that year, we spent many evenings in each others company, conversation and friendship. It was not long before all of us who knew bill and hillary back then were charmed, not only by his personality and atractiveness, but by his incredible intelligense, curiosity and sensitivity. And as the author describes, he seemed to radiate an aura of really caring about you and your feelings and your concerns. This was shortly after roe v wade, and while it would be another 10 years before i would become "the local abortionist" in Fayetteville, he picked my brain about where i stood on the subject and why. Years later, after he became governor, and my staff, my patients, my famly and I came under under massive attack by antiabortion militants and my office was firebombed, I was very disappointed in Bill for not taking a firm stand in support of me and the patients who sought my care. It was not until he was running for president that he came out publically on the "Pro-Choice" side, though everyone in arkansas knew where he stood. But as Gartner describes hm, he never wanted to offend even those who hated him until he absolutely had to do so. And when he did have to, he took the most mildmannered approach he could. Safe, legal and rare. Which I thought he should have made safe, legal and rarely needed. But I still think Bill Clinton is one of the most empathetic, intelligent, caring, charming persons i am likely to meet in my lifetime. And except for the GRWC, could have been one of our greatest presidnets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Compassionate, February 15, 2010
By 
letters2mary (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography (Paperback)
Lots of bits and pieces about Clinton's history that tell us more than was known before about life with his grandmother and mother, one sweet, the other sour. I feel personal vindication, as I have always thought -- as the author apparently does -- that Clinton's mother's death was what pushed him over the edge and into the ill fated affair. I do not, however, care for the fact that the author has chosen to perform distance diagnosis, and (wonder of wonders) it appears that Clinton has that very syndrome which is the focus of the author's career. By comparison, the "bad guys" are pathologized. I would expect better from someone affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University. Still, a good and fast read and one which evokes compassion for Clinton even in those who might not have been counted among his admirers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, understanding, January 4, 2009
I have long sought to understand the actions of Bill Clinton, a man I admired greatly when he was President for his intelligence and caring drive for solutions that would work for real people.

But, like so many people, I simply found his actions with women, especially Monica Lewinsky, unfathomable. Until now.

If you want to understand why Bill Clinton is the way he is, read this book. Enough said.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good analysis of Bill Clinton, March 7, 2010
For the last few years I have had an interest in reading about Bill Clinton. I got this book for a Christmas present and been reading it on and off for the last few months. This is a very good biography of Clinton, though a bit bias, but the author would reason it is Bill's "Hypomanic Edge" that makes him so likable and charming. I did not mind the bias, I thought it showed true feeling of how Clinton affected the author.

One of my favorite chapters was when he discussed Clinton in Ireland and the Peace Accords that took place because of Clinton. I thought that really showed who Clinton really was. The second favorite chapter was the last chapter when the author went to Africa with Clinton in 2007. Both chapters show Clinton in his true light.

When the politics are removed, Clinton becomes a very likable and charming person, who is very compassionate toward people of all standings. He comes across or is portrayed (I am not sure which, but I lean toward the former) as a humble person who wants to do only what is right.

In our time, he is a modern day Jesus Christ, people flock to him just to see him, touch him, many have told the author they are alive because of Clinton. His ability to get things done, that government only get in the way of is astounding. What would take years for other organization, take literally days for the Clinton Foundation to do.

The model of the CF is the model that all need to form after, instead of going in and running it themselves (whatever the CF needs to do) they open it up and fund it and then turn it over to the local government. All the while praising and showing that the operation was the idea of the local government. In contrast to an incident with a French Politician who insulted the populous because the French men (who if I understood spoke English) rather spoke in French and had a native interpret into English what he was saying, publicly humiliated him and had a Frenchmen interpret instead, showing the arrogance of France and showing how incompetent the local native was. In contrast Clinton praised the government for its job in helping the local population in the AIDs fight.

The other contrast between Clinton was when Laura Bush arrived, according to the author, she was heavily guarded by FBI and Secret Service and rode around in a armored limo, which offended the local population. Characterizing that the country was a dangerous place. While Clinton would walk around the country in open air, not afraid to communicate or touch the locals.

This is really where Bill Clinton compares to Jesus Christ in the bible, who was not afraid to touch people and had compassion on them and healed them. You can not tell the difference between the two men in this instance when Clinton is in Africa helping them to heal them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting analysis, good writing., October 22, 2009
By 
Diverse "bobh" (Glendale, WI, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I deeply enjoyed this audiobook. I look forward to getting into the car and getting to the next chapter. I rewind it two, three times because i get distracted while driving, and the point the author is making is good, so i need to get the background. I've recommended it to one of my literate friends, and i'll recommend it to others. Tons of work went into this, and i'm grateful to be able to absorb so much effort with so little effort.
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This book makes me think. And one of the things I'm thinking about is the literary genre that this book utilizes. The genre is psychoanalytic profiles (these are the author's words). The author has stated he is wary of falling into the trap of reducing Clinton to a quick boil-down, to an oversimplified outcome of one or two events from childhood. And the author succeeds in this goal. He paints a vivid portrait, an engaging profile, and he gives insights into Clinton's background that frame his portrait well.

Here's what strikes me though. Is a post-event explanation of the causes of why someone behaved the way they did real science? This book explores Clinton in excruciating detail. But do multiple single-example "proofs" about one person make the endeavor credible? The author wants the reader to assume that he can find the key to Clinton's behavior from important childhood events. But the author only uses one person to support the assumption that childhood events can predict adult behaviors.
If this were a ground-breaking book, the method of describing how childhood events predict adult behaviors would be done for multiple historical people. The author would apply the same reasoning to 3,4,5 presidents. He would show how to choose the childhood events that accurately predict adult behaviors, and how to reject the childhood events that cannot accurately predict adult behaviors. But he doesn't do this. He only gives examples that support his conclusion, and he doesn't show why the other childhood events shouldn't be used. If a childhood is made up of millions of events, then the author uses less than 1/1000th of the data to support his conclusion.
The author's method of psychoanalytic science hasn't been proven as viable. So, his book, which uses an unproven method of analysis for only one instance, is suspect.

My conclusion: I liked the detail, i liked the research, i liked the writing. I understood what the author was saying, and I took time to relisten to key parts because it was interesting. I gave the book 5 of 5 stars. It's worth your time.
However, I don't buy into the author's approach of psychoanalysis to understand Bill Clinton. He derives conclusions from single examples that are spurious at best.
Aristotle fell into the same trap. Aristotle assumed that vermin were created in dung. Aristotle's logic was convincing, but that didn't make it true.
Fascinating gossip, dressed up as science. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Necessary to Understanding Bill Clinton, June 19, 2009
By 
I have read several books on Clinton including his autobiography and this was the most enlightening. The author's research into Bill's past and analysis of his habits are very entertaining. The book contains information that can not be found elsewhere. Any person interested in learning more about Bill Clinton should read this book.

The only bad thing about this book is that the author begins to hero worship towards the end of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising beginning, August 16, 2009
I am A Democrat but Clinton has been my least favorite Democratic President. I always wanted to understand how a man that was so intelligent, invited so much controversy and made so many stupid decisions. This book helps explain a lot of it, and I really enjoyed the first few sections. When the author reaches the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he goes out of his way to defend Clinton and slaughter the antagonist. I believe his arguments from this scandal negated so much of the case he built for Clinton's actions. I finished the book with a greater appreciation for the "Clinton years" and for a number of things Clinton accomplished (particularly his hand in peace for Ireland). I wish I had read the book before voting for Obama instead of Hillary. If you have fond memories of the Clinton's, you will love this book as it becomes a lovefest of Bill Clinton. If you are still unsure of those years, as I am, this book will do nothing to change your mind. The author was very biased and did readers a major disservice.
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In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography
In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography by John D. Gartner (Paperback - September 1, 2009)
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