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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2008
Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich working together?! Despite the fact that these two political heavyweights have made careers out of bashing one another, this book shows that once upon a time they worked together on a secret alliance that might have fixed Social Security. Once the Lewisnsky scandal broke, Gingrich felt like he had to distance himself from Clinton and everything fell apart. The author uses a lot of first-hand resources (letters and interviews) to help tell this fascinating story.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
I have a bit of a secret. I am a liberal Democrat with a soft spot for Newt Gingrich. Hearing Gingrich talk and reading his work has always fascinated me. I do not agree with all of his conclusions or prescriptions, but have always been impressed by his intelligence and political skill. Regarding the former, he has an incredible mind for policy and history, can think broadly about complex problems, and is always generating new ideas (even if they are ones I disagree with). Regarding the latter, his long view of returning Republicans to power and building a GOP farm team was a brilliant strategy that paid huge dividends for his party. Part of my admiration in Gingrich may be because I was not politically active until I entered college in 1999, so I missed the day to day political warfare that Gingrich was at the forefront of.

What I know of those days comes from history and books like The Pact. The Pact traces the careers of two figures with more in common than one would think when approaching the material, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Although the book uses the period immediately following the 1996 presidential election and preceding the Lewinsky scandal as its hook, it is really a quick biography of these two figures from their early political careers, through their collision in 1994, to their brief attempt to do big things before impeachment crowded out their hopes.

The author may be a bit too optimistic on what these two big brains could have done had impeachment not gotten in the way. The book demonstrates that Gingrich's partisanship often overshadowed his desire to get something done when it came to the Clinton White House, for example during the budget negotiations that led to two government shutdowns. And Clinton too was often held captive by the demands of his own political base. Even without impeachment, these two barriers may have prevented the major deals on Social Security and other issues the book almost takes for granted would have occurred.

Bill Clinton, like Gingrich, also had an incredible mind and political sense. But where Gingrich's political skills were broadly applied to a movement, Clinton's were more about his personal elections and survival. But they were both leaders who seemed to implicitly understand the coming challenges of the 21st century. Clinton's attempts to tackle healthcare, energy, and some limited gay rights in his first term appear more prescient with each passing year.

I think most Americans have a general sense that Bill Clinton's presidency was a missed opportunity due to his own personal failing and the partisan divide. The Pact puts a little substance on that broad sketch of history. But it is just a little substance. If you have already read extensively about the period or these two figures, you may not find the book that enlightening. Although the author conducted extensive interviews to complete the work, many of the stories are ones I had read before.

But if you have not read much on these topics, give this quick read some of your time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
this is another 5 stars for me. again i heard about it on cspan. An eye opener, well written, exept for all the mistakes the kindle edition sometime makes, like words running together. I also think this writer is very fair when judging chericters, pretty much says the facts, you decides the rest. This is my second review, please be patient, also English is my second language, allow for some errors
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2012
Telling the, until recently, top secret story of how President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich almost solved the Social Security/Medicare problem.

If you were old enough during the 90s, you may remember how heated the political climate was between Democrats and Republicans. This era was based on two personalities: Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich.

Author Gillon takes us back to these two personalities and how their upbringing through the 1960s shaped what was to come thirty years later.

While I would call this book slightly pro-Clinton, I do think this is one of the most balanced political book I have ever read. Gillon points out the values of both men as well as their vices.

When you boil both men down, you'll actually find two very similar people. Although they never trusted each other, they wanted to be part of something historic.

After the Republican take-over of Congress and some public venom from Gingrich, the two men realized that they needed to work together in order to accomplish something no politician ever wants to touch.

Meeting in secret, so secret that Hillary didn't know about it, Speaker and President met in the White House to talk about how they could create a new coalition of middle ground in order to pass significant legislation.

Everything was in place to succeed until "Monica happened".

The Pact is a wonderful political epoch. It provides a wonderful behind-the-scenes narrative which will lead you to imagine, What if...

This book was provided for review, at no cost by Oxford Publishing
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2010
When Historians begin to look at the time period between the end of the Cold War and the 2008 financial crises, this book unearths a story that will have massive consequences. Clinton is considered to be by Conservatives and Liberals to be a person with little back-bone who did a lot of small things but, mostly didn't really stand for anything and didn't have any major accomplishments. Gingrich is considered a highly partisan, fiery, bombastic, self-destructive Speaker of the House. The 90s are considered to be a period of great economic expansion in which there were no real political issues of serious consequence. This book blows these images out of the water.

In a political scene where compromise is considered political treason and many people have lost faith in their government. This book has several lessons on the requirements of self-government. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is concerned about solving our national debt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The author and I differ in a major idea. Steven M. Gillon sees it as a tragedy that the Monica Lewinsky scandal permanently damaged the progress of talks between Clinton and Gingrich to make Social Security and Medicare a quasi public/private entity. They were going to make history with their "pact". I see it as salvation that Monica Lewinsky came along and destroyed the ability for the two men to finalize their pact. Gingrich ended up being swallowed up and destroyed by the conservatives and Clinton had to seek protection with the liberal side of his party. I see it as salvation. I also learned how the anti-immigrant provisions and welfare to work bills came to be. Clinton was essentially forced to sign them or not get anything done. The lesson there is that the laws weren't changed later on but became more harmful to legal immigrants and things became worse. Food stamp eligibility was cut which didn't seem to matter in flush times as it does in bad. This is an interesting book and it was good to revisit the Clinton presidency and Republican Gingrich and House. The repercussions of what happened still ate with us today.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2008
Couldn't put it down - Bit of a puff piece for Bill - But I'm sort of a Newt guy - Extremely well documented - How did Erskine Bowles lose an election - D -
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
great book putting facts as they were during the clinton presidency. if not for the monica episode the future of america and american people would have been different. recent shutdown of the governemt showed us what partisan politics could do to the nation. also sad that two brilliant politicians who had shown so much promise had go down the history without significant achievements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2014
Praise and criticism was not limited to one side, but distributed equally showing how a lack of personal control by both men caused a lost chance to make historic changes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2013
I enjoyed reading this book, I enjoy learning about the intricacies of our nations political leaders, it sometimes seems to me they are painted with the same brush, in the end they are all alike, and really not too different...Eth
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