From Publishers Weekly
An unlikely, fleeting and largely unknown alliance between the former president and speaker of the House occupies center-stage of this thoughtful book that recreates the tumultuous years of the Clinton administration. Gillon (10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America
) provides compelling evidence suggesting that political foes Clinton and Gingrich formed a secret alliance in 1997 and were prepared to forge a bipartisan compromise on Social Security and Medicare, a plan that was derailed when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. In slightly shapeless early chapters, Gillon surveys the parallels and divergences in the early lives and careers of both men, casting his two protagonists as mirror images of each other: deeply intelligent children of the 1960s greatly affected by the politics of the decade, they became passionate, charismatic leaders who succumbed to personal weaknesses and saw their brilliant careers overshadowed by ignominy. Though Gillon slightly overreaches in framing his story as an epilogue to the culture wars of the '60s, he nevertheless renders a fraught moment in American political history with clarity. (June)
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The story of how Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich came close to secretly making a deal on Social Security by cutting out their respective political allies, only to be derailed by Clintons philandering (and, to an extent, by Gingrichs), is far from edifying. Gillon, a professor and a History Channel host, interviewed both men, but he had better access to Gingrich, and it shows. Arguing, plausibly, that his subjects had much more in common than one would expect, Gillon points to their difficult stepfathers and love of technology, but what comes across most strongly is a shared habit of self-aggrandizement. This account, sheathed in a rote cultural history of the sixties, never really rises above the pettiest logic of the Beltwaywhether various policy initiatives "scored points"so that the final, Monica-induced collapse of the initiative seems only as poignant as a triumph of sordidness over cynicism can be.
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