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The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity Hardcover – April 17, 2012


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Best Books of the Month
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Amazon's editors selected this title as a Best Book of the Month in business & leadership. See our current Editors' Picks.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 641 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439127700
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439127704
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (748 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: It's hard to imagine a more obviously fascinating prism through which to look at American history and politics since the end of World War II. Starting with the surprisingly effective relationship of Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover, and following through "Obama and His Club," TIME Magazine's Executive Editor Nancy Gibbs and Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy trace the surprising, complicated story of "the world's most exclusive fraternity." Sitting presidents and their predecessors have at times proved remarkably simpatico, at others impossible thorns in each other's sides. The authors' extensive research demonstrates that ex-Presidents have a penchant for morphing from consummate team players into irascible rogues, sometimes within weeks, as they strive both to remain relevant and to shape their own legacies. In Gibbs and Duffy's hands, their stories never fail to captivate. --Jason Kirk

Review

“This is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.” —Robert Dallek, bestselling author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963

“Forget Rome’s Curia, Yale’s Skull and Bones and the Bilderbergs—the world’s most exclusive club never numbers more than six. . . . Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs have penetrated thick walls of secrecy and decorum to give us the most intimate, revealing, and poignant account of the constitutional fifth wheel that is the ex-presidency. Readers are in for some major surprises, not to mention a history they won’t be able to put down.” —Richard Norton Smith, author of Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation

The Presidents Club is magnetically readable, bursting with new information and behind-the-scenes details. It is also an important contribution to history, illuminating the event-making private relationships among our ex-Presidents and why we should do a far better job of drawing on their skills and experience.” —Michael Beschloss, bestselling author of The Conquerers

“Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy have given us a great gift: a deeply reported, highly original, and wonderfully written exploration of a much-overlooked part of American history. The tiny world of U.S. presidents is our Olympus, and Gibbs and Duffy have chronicled the intimacies and rivalries of the gods.” —Jon Meacham, bestselling author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

“Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs have taken us inside one of the most powerful and unusual families in American life—the brotherhood of former presidents of the United States. Political junkies, historians, psychologists and main street citizens will find the tales of friendship, envy, conspiracy, competition and common cause irresistible.” —Tom Brokaw, bestselling author of The Greatest Generation

“This is a brilliant idea for a book, wonderfully written! At Eisenhower’s inauguration, Hoover and Truman half-jokingly decided to form a ‘President’s Club.’ With surprising reporting and insights, this book reveals the relationships and rivalries among the few men who know what it’s like to be president. It gives a new angle on history by exploring the essence of the presidency.” —Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin

“Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs offer more than a fresh and fascinating first look at the world’s most exclusive men’s club. It’s a book of real substance about clashing egos and strange bedfellows at the top.” —Jonathan Alter, bestselling author of The Promise

The Presidents Club is a lucid and well-written glimpse into the modern presidency and its self-sustaining shadow organization. It's worth reading and rereading for its behind-the-scenes insights.” USA Today

“This is a great scoop . . . Amazing.” —Chris Matthews, NBC

“A fabulous book . . . I absolutely love it.” —Greta Van Susteren, FOX News

“This is . . . the historical version of crack.” —Joe Scarborough, MSNBC

“Fascinating!” —Brooke Baldwin, CNN

“It is a fascinating read, and I can’t put the book down.” —Clayton Morris, FOX News

“Can I download it at midnight tonight? . . . I love this book, I love that somebody tackled it.” —Chuck Todd, MSNBC

“This is a compelling look at how these men set aside their differences to shape policy and history.” Entertainment Weekly

“A lively history of the crisscrossing personal relationships among America’s post-World War II presidents.” The Washington Post

“With their knowledge of the territory of presidential politics and personality, Gibbs and Duffy assemble a compelling account . . . [and] show that collisions of ego, personality and politics can often result in creation, not destruction.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“With research in presidential papers and the published record, this is a fascinating and fun read that will appeal to political junkies and history buffs alike. Highly recommended.” Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

My book club loved this pick and learned so much about how things get done in government.
Grandma Sue
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and absolutely was engrossed by some of the relationships and interactions of the former Presidents, particularly Nixon and Carter.
BRIAN MARK FARRELL
The book provides great insights into the presidency from a perspective we would otherwise not see.
Peter S

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 188 people found the following review helpful By Spk on July 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The President's Club is a refreshingly different kind of read. There are plenty of Presidential biographies. This book is not about Presidential accomplishments. It is not also about post-presidential accomplishments, such as the well know Clinton Global Initiative (CGI, as it is known). Rather this book explores the relationships between current Presidents and e-Presidents. i.e. how did ex-Presidents partner with current ones. Very well written with fun and telling anecdotes. As I read through this list starting from Truman's Presidency through to Obama, I thought it would be fun to subjectively rate some of these relationships:

Best: Hoover helping Truman get food supplies to 100 million starving Europeans after WWII (wow!)

Second best: Nixon helping Clinton deal with Yelstin. This is a really cool story!

Worst: Jimmy Carter annoying pretty much everybody

Delicious: Johnson and Nixon trying to outfox each other

Most fun anecdote: Reagan teaching Clinton how to salute.

If one is interested in Presidential history, this is a new and refreshing angle on this well worn path.
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110 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Tripp A Braden on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Looking for a great book that combines the best and worst qualities of leaders during challenging times? I just started The Presidents Club and can't put it down. Working in the White House is a different world. Wonder what it's like to be in the most exclusive fraternity in the world? This book might offend people on both sides of the political spectrum but entertain all. It reminds us all that Presidents are still people and how they deal with crushing pressure could be a lesson for us all.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Wes F on April 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Presidents Club is a must read for anyone that is truly interested in the fine line that exists with current Presidents and their successors. It opens the chapters of history from a perspective that is seldom seen by the general public.

Exciting -- The book is an easy read that keeps the reader engaged as the authors tell the narrative of Presidential interaction. From Hoover to Obama the dynamics are shaped by the most powerful men in the world. From ego's to self-empathy the authors tell the real life history of how the club has grown and shrunk over the last 50 years.

Credible - Well sourced and full of citing the authors took the job seriously and gave readers insights only found by scouring thousands and thousands of pages of Presidential material

Insightful - Discover how Hoover was a tremendous help at the end of WWII. Put yourself in President Reagan's post-presidential office as he teaches another President how to salute.

Perception Changing - The book opened this readers eyes to the decisions that Presidents have to make. Foreign Policy rules the land and I would bet each of us are hard pressed to ever look at our leaders through the same lens as we did before reading this book.
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110 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Deygan Brendan on April 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Anyone - Democrat or Republican - with an interest in the workings of the Presidency will find this a fascinating read. Sides of past presidents will be revealed that you hadn't known existed. It's an equally-interesting book when you take into account that even what is written about only scratches the surface, as ex-Presidents will only reveal so much.
I prefer not to list certain portions of a book like this that I really liked, as I know how much I like to avoid seeing even trivial "spoilers" - but rest assured, this is an account saturated with highly educational information.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul S. Davison on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you think you're familiar with contemporary American political history, this book will give you details that you haven't heard. Beginning with Truman's relationship with Hoover and coming forward to touch on President Obama's evolving relationship with Bill Clinton, this book is full of examples of how former presidents have worked together (and sometimes not) and with the current president (and sometimes not). It's written in a non=partisan way that doesn't overlook a former president's achievements or failings. I highly recommend it.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on May 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has often been said that the United States Senate is the world's most exclusive club with its one hundred members, but as Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy point out in their excellent new book, "The Presidents Club", living former U.S. presidents have it hands down on exclusivity. This is one club about which we have heretofore known very little, but with a flourish, the authors reveal quite a mosaic.

Beginning with Harry Truman's "rehabilitation" of Herbert Hoover shortly after Truman assumed the presidency in 1945, current and former holders of the office have formed some of the most fascinating relationships borne out of many factors. Truman needed expertise on European relief after the Second World War so he turned to Hoover, who had made a name for himself doing the same after World War I. In turn they became friends, something that would happen often to presidents, especially of opposing parties.

We get more than a glimpse of super egos needing to be wanted and stroked. There are "gentlemanly" ex-presidents and "rogue" ones as well. They're kind of like a big family...often colliding with one another, making up afterwards, only to set off on another crash course along the way. A wonderful contribution of this book is the summaries of presidential discussions, leaving the reader with the wonder of how fragile these men are. All of them. Some chapters are better than others. Nixon's manipulation of LBJ is juicy, as is the drama that played out between Ford and Reagan...not only at the 1976 GOP convention but at the one four years later, too. And there's Jimmy Carter going way out of bounds on a trip to North Korea to the utter dismay of Bill Clinton.
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