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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
The President's Club is a powerful read and extraordinary book. Nancy Gibb and Michael Duffy truly collaborated on a remarkable study of this select group of individuals and created a great read and a worthwhile study for nearly every citizen who can read. The book is so positive about each and every one of the 44 members without ignoring the problems and counterproductive maneuvers that were not worthy of club members.

Each newly elected President of the United States has entered office and begun a transformation, usually some "kick in the pants" event happens on their first watch which changes everything - absolutely everything. The club is there to protect the office, to get an overview of the country, and to understand, connect, and support each other. No one else can understand what it is like to hold this office.

The largest number of club members living at any one time was 7. Nearly every President since Hoover came into office thinking that they did not need the previous fellows and thought their get acquainted sessions were just "good manners".

But Truman could see that an individual needed people who had experienced the office and who were trustworthy to counsel them and talk through what needed to be accomplished and what route to take. Truman restored Hoover's good name and reputation after the name calling got so bad it reached a verbal lynching pitch. Hoover went on to assist the next Presidents, and for 20 more years, with foreign policy efforts that have made a lasting impact on the world.

Jimmy Carter should have been the Tea Party's Candidate, he had to live out his Christian Conservative Doctrine every waking minute and then he blundered through sharing everything with extreme honesty and the general public did not want to know. What an amazing statesman he has become - still makes many blunders and lives within his beliefs. Everyone has needed his assistance.

Nixon had to resign but in trying to restore his good name he used his incredible intelligence and powers of manipulation to make a huge impact on the thinking and wisdom of all the Presidents who came after.

The only President I did not have better thoughts about was Reagan. He was all "image" and got others to do the work for him so he could come off as the white hat. I could not shake my feelings about him being slimy no matter how positive the authors presented his case.

Bush #43 - well he is a good ol' boy but he doesn't seem to understand the common man and he could not get out of "the party" mode of operations. Even though the book was gracious and kind to his terms and experience - I am still embarrassed by him and his staff- so negative and cruel and he could not release from this disgusting agenda or being dependent and feeling entitled to huge amounts of money.

I did find some saving moments by reading every word. The book is NOT about individual policies or actions, it IS about how the members worked with each other; the only ones who knew the experience.

I love how Bush #41 was presented and my opinion of him was raised even higher than before. He is still providing great support and humor to those who have followed his time in office.

The book is just loaded with links to Presidential Libraries, pictures of events, and detailed references. I had to stop linking to get through the book in time to write this post.

You will not be disappointed by reading this book - I think each person will find some forgiveness in their expectations for a President and his choices and I think people will be better informed about who they choose for their next Commander in Chief. Truly it should not be up to the parties and the folks with the most money.

Did you know that former President's did not receive any post service compensation and that Truman lived in near poverty (and had to build his library) after he left office? The President's club finally developed a stipend system for former Presidents before Truman died.

This book elevated my thinking and inspired me to know more and support my country and our efforts. Have you read a book recently that inspired your thinking and elevated your spirits?
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2012
My only criticism of this wonderful tome is that there are not more stars to rate this book...I would have given it ten stars if I could. Just an enigmatic tour through the passages of history, and of the exclusive league of gentelmen who have served the highest office in the land. It is not preachy, nor does it take sides liberal v. conservative in any respect. A very objective and even-handed look at how president's have included and precluded former president's from participation in the executive realm, and how (ultimately) time heals all wounds for the men whose souls have occupied the Oval Office. Just first-rate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
I highly recommend this book for anyone that is even remotely interested in Presidential politics or the history of the Presidency itself.
The Presidents Club tells not only the many ways that former Presidents have become valuable assets to the current office holder, but also how once entering the world's most exclusive fraternity partisan politics becomes secondary to protecting the legacy of the Presidency itself.
How Herbert Hoover goes from disgraced President to respected elder statesman with the help of Harry Truman,the cloak and dagger events between Johnson and Nixon in the days leading up to the 1968 election,and the unlikely strong and almost father son relationship that has developed between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush are just a few of the fascinating stories you will read about in this book.
To those that read'll be glad you did!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2012
I watched a discussion of this book with the two authors on PBS's News Hour and found the discussion intriguing. Unfortunately, the book did not live up the the level of the conversation. There were a few tidbits buried deep within the book, but for the most part it was a re-hash of well worn information available in many other books.

I thought the parts about Truman and Hoover were perhaps the best and that may relfect that I know less about them than the other presidents mentioned. I found almost all of the write ups on the more recent presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Bush 2) to be boring.

If you really like the presdientcy then this might be worth a read. Try and pick up a used copy and save yourselves some cash.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
Great read! Interesting on every page. You know these guys have their own opinions about the presidents before them and after them. It is good to see that they let all that slide for the good of America. (Except Carter....a snake in the book). I saw Clinton and Bush the elder do one of their speaking engagements in person. It was quite evident from the give and take and the jokes that they really loved each other. I later saw George W. speak and he said his mother referred to Bill Clinton as his other brother. Read this book. You will enjoy it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
I bought this book on, because the content interested me. Only later did I discover that the authors are *Time* Magazine writers. Fearing having my staunch conservative biases offended by the authors' liberal ones, I donned my internal "bias antennae," set them to the "Sensitive" position, and began to listen.

After listening to ninety percent of this book (I'm still savoring it), I haven't found significant liberal bias! Carter, for instance, is portrayed to be the horse's rear I've always envisioned him as. If the book is slanted, I didn't detect it.

Instances of crude language are few and far between. When they do occur, they are presented because they came out of a president's mouth, and they show us how that president spoke when the cameras were not around.

The wonder of the book, and it is wonderful, is the way it takes me into a world I didn't know existed. I thought I was well informed, but there is so much interesting information that I never knew! I get to be a voyeur of sorts, reading the correspondence of presidents, learning of their conversations, their friendships, their rivalries, their challenges met together or created for each other. It's crazy fun!

This work is well organized, easy to follow, and a delight. My highest recommendation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
I have just finished The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffey and cannot recommend it too highly. Particularly in this day and age of widely diverse political beliefs and hateful rhetoric, this book reminds us that there is a common ground for us all. I did not find this book to be Republican or Democratic in view, but rather a colorful and insightful review of the Presidents from Truman through Obama. It emphasizes the support and advice each sitting President received from the past presidents. And how to a man, they all considered the "Office of President" to be more important then the actual office holder. Many interesting antidotes are described of actual warm and lasting friendships that developed from harsh campaign rhetoric, and conversations/meetings/diplomacy and advise that the general public never knew about. The three words the authors use to describe the Presidents Club were "cooperation, competition and consolation". As each Presidents Club member realized no one but a former President could understand the pressure and problems of that office. "On the one hand, the presidents have powerful motives - personal and patriotic - to help one another succeed and comfort one another when they fail". Harry Truman stated he would not criticize a sitting president because he believed "more time must pass before anyone, even an ex-president, can evaluate the performance of a man in the White House". Each President from Truman through Obama seems to me to be given a balanced portrait of their strengths and weaknesses but only in the greater picture of the "Office" itself. I gained a good deal of insight from this book and will treasure it in the upcoming campaign.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2012
The Presidents Club is a very interesting and enlightening read. We all have a basic sense of the existence of "the club" from viewing from afar the interaction of current and former presidents, but this book goes behind the facade and lays bare both the frictions that exist between long-time adversaries and the mutual protection they afford each other as members of the "world's most exclusive club." Much can be learned about the true character of our former presidents by understanding how each reacts to his predecessors and his successors. I was particularly struck by the Hoover-Truman friendship. It is clear that Truman had a far more productive relationship with Herbert Hoover, every Democrats favorite Republican whipping-boy, than he did with FDR or even, in the end, with Eisenhower. Similarly, the portrayal of Richard Nixon and his continuing ambitions and efforts to return to political relevance is enlightening as to the personna of Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter's maverick antics are equally enlightening. This is a fun and enlightening book which I recommend to all of those interested in current events and politics.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2012
The President's Club is a great topic. It is not just about what former Presidents do, but how they interact with one another and the currently serving President. Lots of the stories in this book were, to me, absolutely fascinating. Clinton's apparent appreciation for Nixon and their long conversations, Nixon's regular desire to involve himself in foreign policy after his time in Congress, Truman's embrace of Hoover, and Carter's work for Clinton in North Korea and Haiti are just some of the good stories. But the authors' framing leaves something to be desired.

First, it is somewhat unfortunate that the authors think history started with, it would seem, World War II. At least a chapter on prior post-presidential relationships would have been warranted. For example, perhaps a reference to Adams' commission of George Washington as commander-in-chief as Adams considered war with France or Jefferson and Adams' long correspondence after their presidencies. And those are just some examples off the top of my head, I'm sure a little research could have yielded other, interesting interactions. What did prior presidents think of John Tyler's claim on the presidency after he took over for the first president to die in office?

Second, there is no "club." That is a device the authors use inconsistently where they discuss "rules" (which no one seems to follow) and a club house across from the White House (that I swear, it seems is never used based on their writing). I'm not a big fan of this device and seems somewhat unnecessary given the inherent interesting qualities (at least to me) of the topic. In one interview with the authors I saw, the club concept actually caused some confusion as the interviewer seemed to think there was a special seal and letterhead for this club.

Third, I wish the book had handled some material in a more systematic way, specifically funerals, inaugurations, and libraries. How the ex-presidents interact with each other (and the current occupant) around these events and where the traditions come from is worth a few pages of discussion. Ex-presidents now attend inaugurations, was that always the case? For the first part of the book, President Hoover is a major figure, but his death and funeral is never dealt with. Who of his predecessors went? I think this would have been worthy of discussion.

This is a rich topic and the authors have ferreted out some good stories and relationships. I recommend this book, shortcomings and all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2012
Just finished this book, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Whether you are Democrat,Republican, conservative or liberal, it is a revelation of true historical perspective. From Presidents Truman and Hoover, who unoffically created the Former Presidents Club, all Presidents since have been greatly influential in American politics. Fasinating read of how each successive President have supported their successors and also defended the office itself. Nixon's legacy is greatly enhanced for his insight of American politics and his uncanny ability to understand world politics through the years. This should be on every student's curriculum of American Government studies.
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