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The Breach : Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton Hardcover – Unabridged, September 18, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068486813X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684868134
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In case you missed "our long national nightmare" the first time around, or have recovered from the stunning deluge of coverage and pundit-babble inflicted upon the nation, or if you're just hazy on some of the details, The Breach is for you. Peter Baker, a longtime reporter for the Washington Post, covered the White House from 1996 to1999. He has used his experience and access to write the ultimate Beltway book about the six-month saga of the impeachment and trial of President Clinton, from the unfortunate, verb-parsing grand jury testimony of August 1998 to the Senate acquittal in February 1999.

The Breach is a refreshing departure from the daily onslaught of revelations, spin, and commentary that characterized the affair as it unfolded; it's a rigorously researched and extremely detailed account of what happened. Some of the information is new, even shocking, and often depressing. But mostly it's a reminder of how savage and surreal the whole thing was, with adulterers accusing adulterers and the fate of the Executive held to ransom. In a tale of rampant male ego, it is the old feminist saw "the personal is political" that perhaps best encapsulates the experience. Though The Breach is detailed, compiled from hundreds of interviews, investigation files, diaries, and recordings, it lacks that numbing quality the contemporary coverage had. This is inside baseball, written for C-SPAN geeks, Beltway bandits--wannabe or actual--and curious citizens alike. Perhaps the highest praise for such an endeavor is that even after all the hype, this book still manages to be a page-turner. --J. Riches

From Publishers Weekly

Baker covered the Lewinsky brouhaha and the impeachment of Clinton for the Washington Post; this very absorbing and very thorough volume tells the complicated story of both, from the president's admission in August 1998 that he had "misled people" to the Senate's votes in February 1999 to acquit him. Previous scandal chronicles have focused on the president's personality and his (real or alleged) misdeeds, or else on his most dedicated opponents (like independent counsel Ken Starr). Baker admirably concentrates instead on the day-to-day doings of White House staff and on members of Congress. He shows the conflicts between Clinton's political strategists and his legal team, the mixed reactions of congressional Democrats and the infighting among House Republicans, who went through three speakers (Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert) inside a month. He looks at the effects of the Starr report and at its impact on members of the media, like Larry Flynt and Christopher Hitchens. Finally, Baker shows how, in the trial itself, minority and majority leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott "labored together... to keep the Senate from coming apart." In addition to his Post reportage, Baker has used all manner of further research, interviews and documents, many of them (unsurprisingly) not for attribution. As a result, he describes many scenes and conversations he could not have heard, all reconstructed from participants' statements and notes. His story is less about Clinton than about the moral, political and practical judgments all the other folks in the process had to make. As such, it's a tale with continuing relevance: Clinton will leave office soon, but many of Baker's other players will stay. Hardly salacious and nearly without prurience, Baker's detailed narration will delight would-be historians; politics junkies will find it the book of the season. First serial to the Washington Post. (Sept. 18)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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The truth will prevail.
James Yaklin
In fact, I think it would be wise for anyone who is contemplating a future in politics to read this book.
"brad@cpfgnet.com"
The book chronicles the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an insightful, well-written account by a someone who was given unprecedented access to all of the players. Baker is not only a gifted writer, but is a talented investigative reporter who knows how to write without injecting his own bias into his writing. Undoubtedly his well-deserved reputation for accurate reporting was a major reason why so many opened up to him. This is a book that readers -- regardless of their personal views -- will find insightful, and perhaps, the "final" book on this sordid affair. It will certainly be a book that historians will refer to in years to come.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The people involved and the story of the impeachment are well known, but this book is so compelling in it's detail and behind the scenes reporting of events. I could not detect a bias by the author, and I am amazed that so many people involved in the episode spoke so revealingly to him. There was so much going on behind the scenes that we were not privy to, previously. It is an insight not only into the impeachment process, but into the politicians who were so conflicted in their roles and decision-making. It is just a wonderful book!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Breach is arguably the best political book of recent years. The Washington Post's Peter Baker took a topic everyone was sick of, and summarized it -- sticking to what really mattered. The book chronicles the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Period. Baker shows what went on behind the scenes, what deals were cut to keep Clinton in office, and the ambivalence of Republican leaders about pursuing a politically unpopular course. He shows why some members of both parties came to loathe Clinton, and how Clinton's own lieutenants felt. And he reveals why events unfolded as they did, and how once started, the process could not be stopped -- despite the efforts of some Republicans to "turn off impeachment" for fear of rushing down the wrong track of history. This is not a book about sex, nor a book about the Clinton marriage. Baker is writing a history for history, and sifts through all the pundit babble and misdirected salaciousness to report accurately on one of the most important events of recent American history. For anyone who was transfixed by the magnitude of the events but couldn't stomach the way it was handled by much of the press, this is the book for you.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Robbins on February 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well researched, even-handed study of the entire Clinton impeachment and trial episode. Often, the books examining this topic are clearly ideological (for example, Schippers horribly written, self-serving "Sell Out"). Baker does a great job of providing insight on the various stages of the events that made up this time in our nation's history. He does this by having almost unparalled access to the thoughts and conversations of the major players. For example, what better way to know what various Senators were thinking during the trial than to examine journals and notes belonging to those Senators? Due to his excellent reputation for veracity and fairness, Baker was given access to such sources (e.g., Senator Collins' impeachment diary) and to conversations normally kept private from reporters/researchers. If you are a student of history, of Clinton, or of Congress, this book is a must read. Personally, I've read most of the impeachment books, and this is the best. What is most amazing is the insight into the way the events actually unfolded; the public gets to see (often for the first time) how very differently things could have gone if only one person had done something, or said something, differently. For example, had DeLay decided not to wage his "let's impeach" crusade; had several moderate republicans been approached differently, had Clinton (at several points) shown actual contrition, impeachment and/or a trial may have never occurred. Great book!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Peter Baker's book, "The Breach" takes you inside the caucuses and meetings of the various parties involved in the impeachment process of President Clinton. It provides tremendous detail through interviews with the major players; one even senses that the participants wanted to get their version of things on the record and were willing to talk with Baker to fix their place in history. The details of the various strategies and counter-strategies used by the two sides are fascinating. The dilemma in which Trent Lott and Tom Daschle found themselves is particularly interesting and one can almost feel their sense of relief when the process finally ended. Baker has dug deeply to provide us with this information and he is to be congratulated for his attempt to be neutral on so controversial a subject. The evenhandedness of his reporting is evident throughout the book.
There are weaknesses to the book, however, and these begin with no first-hand accounts from Bill and Hillary Clinton. Secondly, Baker relies exclusively on first-hand accounts which, in effect, means taking politicians at their word. The work is, thus, skewed toward depicting the House members as totally moral, and conscientious individuals doing their best for their country with no partisan motives. Much of the bitterness and pure partisanship of the times is absent. Because Baker simply reports these conversations, with little or no analysis as to the motives of the players or interpretation of the events, he lets these politicians stake out the moral high ground and the political dynamics of the process are completely lost. Because of this, one comes away not understanding why Bill Clinton remained a very popular president throughout the event.
In sum, this is a book that should be read and there is much to be learned here about this sorry episode, but a complete evaluation of the process and the political dynamics will obviously wait til later.
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