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The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 29, 2009
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"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--Robert Harris, The Sunday Times (London)
“A remarkable portrait of White House life. . . . An important work about American political life. . . . Branch is an historian by trade, and an excellent one. . . . To the extent that Branch’s portrait of the president rescues politics from ignominy, he has done a real public service; that he has done this while vividly portraying an exuberant American original is cause for joy. . . . Revealing and often delightful.”
--Joe Klein, The New York Times Book Review
“By turns intimate and dispassionately historical . . . this book will be a boon to historians. The casual reader might delight more in Branch’s glimpses of an unguarded president.”
--Gilbert Cruz, Time
“Taylor Branch’s latest book has made me whistle more than any comparable piece of work for a very long time, and not just because of its many remarkable disclosures.”
--Christopher Hitchens, Newsweek
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Top Customer Reviews
Taylor made two duplicate tape recordings of each of 79 two-hour interviews conducted over a period between 1993 and 2001. In order to insure that the President felt like he could talk candidly about even the most delicate subjects, it was agreed that Clinton would keep both tape recordings of each interview in his personal possession. Clinton put both of the only copies into "what he called `a good hiding place'--his sock drawer" in the dressing room next to his and Hillary's White House bedroom.
This book is not a transcription of those secret tapes. It is the author's recollections and notes of each of those two-hour "shooting the bull" confabs. After turning over the recordings to Clinton for safe storage in his super-secret hiding place, Taylor Branch would drive himself home. During the hour it usually took him to reach his driveway when driving home late at night and early in the morning, he would make another tape recording of his impressions and recollections of what was said during the earlier White House interviews. These "driving home tape recordings," his notes and memory are the basis of this 700 plus-page book.Read more ›
We learn so much about Bill Clinton, the man and the president, that would otherwise not be known, until or unless the tapes, (which President Clinton has) are released for public consumption. What is perhaps not so surprising is that many major current events change so quickly. Reflecting on the early years of the Clinton presidency, who remembers now so much focus on Haiti and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? Even the war in Kosovo and other former Yugoslav republics are now in the background of many of our thoughts. Of course, the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, India and Pakistan are still "current", but many of the players have changed. Yasir Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein are all gone now, but Clinton's examination of them makes it seem like just yesterday. We get to see a president who is utterly engaged in peace processes around the world with a deep understanding of the conflicts that arose during that time.
We also witness a personal side of Bill Clinton that is remarkable. He is often so dead tired that Taylor Branch finds him nodding off during their meetings. The president loves basketball and his own golf game, but isn't particularly knowledgeable about baseball. More than occasionally he seems to suffer from some physical injury or allergies depending on the day and season.Read more ›
Reagan was aware of this issue and appointed an official biographer early in his tenure and Edmund Morris, a noted historian himself, was given unprecedented access to the President and his White House. His resulting work failed, however, for many reasons, most notably that he was unable to retain the journalistic distance needed to create a proper history.
President Clinton and Branch knew one another during the McGovern campaign in 1972, sharing an apartment in Texas to help run that area of the operation. When he was elected, being aware of the historical issues I've noted, Clinton contacted Branch and asked him for a recommendation on how the needs of history could be met. What they settled upon has been described in many places, so I'll save some time.
This is what Branch created based on his observations of the process he and the President underwent. As in any good history, there is distance and criticism, as well as nearly overwhelming detail. "Wrestling History" is a great title, as a comparison between it and Clinton's own autobiography finds many differences and I think the interested reader will enjoy both, as they reveal different facets of the same President and the semi-universe of a modern presidency.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While a very long book, it was fascinating to read what Clinton was thinking as the moment was passing him by. I wish this type of project could be found with every President. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Guze
Bill Clinton served as President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. During his eight years as president, friend and historian Taylor Branch joined him several times in the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Andrew
Content of this memoir may be interesting and valuable,
but the narrator (author) is a poor choice for narrator. Read more
A wonderfully put together work that gives great insight into Clinton's brilliant mind and political insights, as well as to his obvious ability to compartmentalize and cope with... Read morePublished on November 4, 2010 by Hallauthor
With former President Clinton in the news lately, we thought it would be a good time to look at the most recent book covering his White House years, `The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling... Read morePublished on March 12, 2010 by BlogOnBooks
The title is a bit of a misnomer because the taping process provided the basis for the book, but the content of the tapes do not shape it in the manner of tapes from the Johnson or... Read morePublished on March 6, 2010 by Richard A. Jenkins
I orginally checked this book out at my branch library. I liked it so well I wanted to have it in my personal library. Read morePublished on March 4, 2010 by P. Brown
Like Kennedy, Clinton was very interested in how the history of his Administration would be written. Read morePublished on February 18, 2010 by CJA