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The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr [Kindle Edition]

Ken Gormley
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair, The Death of American Virtue is a gripping chronicle of an ever-escalating political feeding frenzy.

In exclusive interviews, Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal, and many more key players offer candid reflections on that period. Drawing on never-before-released records and documents—including the Justice Department’s internal investigation into Starr, new details concerning the death of Vince Foster, and evidence from lawyers on both sides—Gormley sheds new light on a dark and divisive chapter, the aftereffects of which are still being felt in today’s political climate.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This book's readers will quickly think of water. Facts overwhelm you like Niagara. And when you've finished reading about President Clinton and special prosecutor Ken Starr, you may want to take a long shower. Gormley, a professor of law at Duquesne (Archibald Cox), reviews the entire sordid business of Clinton's foolishness and his enemies' efforts to bring down his presidency. It's not an edifying tale. Very few of the book's cast come off well, except for Secret Service officials and a judge or two. If there's a sympathetic character, it's Susan McDougal, who refused to rat on her friends. Starr makes error after error and confuses vindictiveness with duty. While not altering the basic story in any way, Gormley gains much from effective interviews 10 years after with participants and his use of newly available documents. While his book is too long, Gormley remains in control of the details, and this riveting first look at events that only future history will put into full relief shows how affairs of sex and enmity can become affairs of state. 24 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1999, the shocking revelation of President Clinton’s affair with a White House intern captivated the nation and nearly sank his career as well as that of prosecutor Ken Starr. Legal scholar Gormley offers new revelations: Starr drafted an impeachment referral long before the Monica Lewinsky scandal emerged, and investigators considered indicting First Lady Hillary Clinton for Whitewater irregularities. Gormley draws on newly released documents, including transcripts of depositions and grand jury testimony, and interviews with major figures, including Clinton and Starr, to offer a deliciously detailed account of the investigation that nearly led to the impeachment of the president and continues to reverberate in American politics. Starr’s initial charge to investigate the Clintons’ involvement in Arkansas real-estate deals morphed into an investigation of the suicide of Vince Foster and Paula Jones’ allegations of sexual harassment and the ostensible connection of an affair with Lewinsky. Gormley chronicles the behind-the-scenes political machinations of Republican “elves” out to get the Clintons and White House efforts to save his presidency, playing out in a titanic political clash as Americans were repulsed by Clinton’s actions and Starr’s excessive zeal. Gormley recalls the missteps and irregularities on both sides as partisan politics poisoned efforts to get at the truth. Gormley is masterful at building the high drama of stranger-than-fiction political skulduggery and nuttiness with a cast of fascinating characters. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 4434 KB
  • Print Length: 802 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (February 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00338QEMO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,395 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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73 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great research, fun to read, thought-provoking February 21, 2010
By rbnn
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, nearly 800 pages, analyzes in exhaustive detail Ken Starr's investigation as independent prosecutor of President Clinton.

Two things stand out about this book.

First, the colossal amount of research that went into it. Gormley interviewed not only all the major players in the events, including Starr, Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky, but also hosts of minor characters, relatives, attorneys, and the like. I have rarely read any book on any subject that interviewed so many different people in so much depth, many of them ordinarily difficult to find.

Gormley's extreme diligence pays off as he uncovers tragic but mesmerizing details that are not widely known. For example, he has a detailed account of Jim McDougal's death in solitary confinement including information based on his interviews with McDougal's prison psychologist. He also uncovered a report highly critical of the prosecutors' interrogation of Monica Lewinsky, which criticizes the prosecutors for continuing to question her after she had requested an attorney. What was particularly interesting is that the report was never released because, allegedly, its release would have violated the privacy, not of Lewinsky - but of her prosecutors! One of the most interesting features of this book is that while the FBI was devoting enormous investigative resources to the question of whether the president committed perjury in his Jones deposition, Clinton was sending missiles against al-Qaeda threats in Afghanistan. Some of the participants expressed exasperation that law enforcement did not consider anti-terrorism investigation a higher priority than the Jones deposition issues.

The second great thing about this book is that it's so clear and easy to read.
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84 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pricing complaints are not book reviews! February 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've not finished this book yet, and bought it because of fine reviews I read elsewhere. It's good thing I took the time to read all the Amazon reviews; otherwise I wouldn't have known that the bad reviews were due to Kindle pricing, not book content. Why does Amazon allow this? Pricing complaints should be lodged elsewhere.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read Falls Just Short of Objectivity July 2, 2010
I'm a bit torn after reading Gormley's work. ( And apparently, I'm in the minority of reviewers. How can someone not appreciate the irony of reviewing a book they haven't read, or complaining about price to a forum that has nothing to do with pricing? ) I loved the read, had a hard time putting it down. But I had issues with a few aspects of the book that made it fall short of what it could have been:

1. As with another reviewer, I think the title is erroneously constructed. American virtue ( and I assume the writer is referring to the abject partisanship of the wars between right and left here, not Clinton's fleshly transgressions ) as such, was long dead. The days of the mentality of a "loyal opposition" began vanishing decades ago, and even if the author intended a reference to the lack of moral virtue displayed by Clinton, the record is established and vast about the peccadilloes of JFK, FDR, etc.

2. Gormley implies the objectivity of Ken Starr a little too easily. I found far too many quotes from Mrs. Starr, far too many testaments from Starr committee members to back up that observation. The facts of Starr's pre-appointment activities that Gormley freely documents should have given him more pause in this regard than they did. While Gormley documents the Starr committee's horrific treatment of the Secret Service during this time period, he does not hold Starr's feet to the fire enough for that course of action. This, more than anything, speaks to Gormley's ( albeit slight ) predisposition to accept Starr for what Starr represented himself to be.

3. Gormley takes Henry Hyde's words with near-gospel reverence, and Hyde unquestionably was as partisan as partisan can be.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book does much to illuminate the bizarre scandal that turned into a pathetic circus and sickened the nation. Strong partisans of either stripe will learn something from the wonderful research presented here. Ken Gormley interviewed the vast majority of the key players, often getting great raw material that sheds important light on the happenstance and malicious motives at play during the drama.

But there are omissions. Important omissions. Gormley does not mention, much less investigate James Carville's story that he met Ken Starr in October of 1993, where Starr launched into an attack on Clinton and announced, "You're boy's getting rolled."

He allows Starr and his prosecutors to go on for pages, repeatedly stating that they had no vendetta against Clinton, but saves for the final pages startling news of a non-partisan government investigation of Starr's office that seriously attacked their ethics, particularly in the way they tried to dissuade Monica Lewinsky from calling her attorney when cornered just before Clinton's deposition in the Paula Jones case.

Gormley also gets some interpretive facts wrong. He chastises the President for his anger in his August, 1998 television appearance after testifying to the Starr grand jury. Many commentators felt the same way. Gormley mentions, in passing, that Clinton's numbers did not fall after that appearance. Why? Because his mia culpa worked. It was honest. He was angry and he was sorry. Had he simply said anything that sounded like, "well, Ken Starr was justified in all his over-reaching," then he would have been forced out. He needed to be clear that he felt this was a private sin and that he and America should resent this kind of investigation.

The largest missing piece of the puzzle is the meta-analysis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pee-Pee Problems And Perjury
By its very nature, centers of political power such as Washington D.C. attract more than its fair share of zealots. Zealotry comes in many forms: some good, some bad. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Franklin the Mouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Taught me many things about Clinton- Starr ...
Excellent book. Taught me many things about Clinton- Starr case.
Published 14 days ago by Trampes C Crow
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
to much in one book
Published 1 month ago by Anita
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Nicely written
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gormley writes good.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clinton-As-Victim
Another Clinton-as-Victim book although it is a good read. It does offer some behind the scenes facts not commonly known.
Published 3 months ago by Peter M. Zuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Gormley deserves an award
If you want the characters of Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, and Erskine Caldwell rolled into one book, then this is your book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adam B. Ritchie Jr.
1.0 out of 5 stars Liberal professor and Clinton apologist has not done his homework - I...
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Published 13 months ago by Robert P. Morrow
5.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of Dysfunction
A wonderful read. Detailed, balanced and analytical. I picked this up after reading Clinton's "My Life" which left more than a few unanswered questions.

Wow! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Tim Loucks
5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental achievement of scholarship and writing
"The Death of American Virtue" is a masterful combination of meticulous research, crackling, cogent, prose and ingenious organization. Read more
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More About the Author

Ken Gormley is a law professor at Duquesne University, specializing in constitutional law, as well as a nationally renowned expert on Watergate and special prosecutors. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation.


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When this book talks of Clinton, Saddam and Iraq in 1998
1994 is not nearly as relevant to the history of Iraq (or Clinton's presidency) as the President's decision to acquiesce in the Iraq Liberation Act, which Bush used as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq five years later. Without that Act Bush would have had one fewer fig leaf.
Feb 19, 2010 by Jason Galbraith |  See all 2 posts
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