- Hardcover: 316 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Co; 1st edition (June 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805058087
- ISBN-13: 978-0805058086
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Arkansas Mischief: The Birth of a National Scandal Hardcover – June, 1998
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It all seemed so uneventful: two couples on a double date, a hearty Southern meal of fried steak and turnip greens, jovial conversations about work, and the "casual" mention of a great business venture involving land on the White River. But these two couples were Bill and Hillary Clinton and their then-close friends Jim and Susan McDougal. The great business scheme was dubbed Whitewater, which snowballed into one of the great political scandals--or witch-hunts, depending on your point of view--of our time. Arkansas Mischief is the late Jim McDougal's autobiography, but inevitably the book will be devoured not for its strengths as a memoir but for its allegations of presidential misconduct. McDougal makes several new allegations against President Clinton, including one that he intended to fully pardon Susan McDougal for her Whitewater involvement, something the White House vigorously denies.
Is the book just a series of sensational untruths told by an embittered and disillusioned man? McDougal himself admits that he suffered from manic-depression, so can he be believed? The stories of political corruption are casually woven into the book's narrative and don't read like tabloid sleaze. Yet ultimately very few people know the actual truth, and the reader must draw his or her own conclusions. Regardless of the allegations' legitimacy, McDougal and his cowriter Curtis Wilkie have written an engaging and often witty memoir. A devoted Democrat from a young age, McDougal recalls how he "always thought every town should have one Republican, just as every town seemed to have one village idiot and one town drunk." The biography traces McDougal's rise as a Democratic campaigner and activist, opening our eyes to the unique and controversial workings of the Arkansas political scene of the past 50 years. Although McDougal died in prison before the release of his autobiography, Arkansas Mischief remains a lasting testament to an elusive yet endearing man whose revelations threatened to topple the president. --Naomi Gesinger
From Library Journal
McDougal, self-described political mentor of President Clinton, died recently of cardiac failure in prison at age 57, while serving a sentence for his "creative financing" activities as manager of the Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan that funded the Whitewater real estate project. Although he suffered from alcoholism and depression, had two failed marriages, and died impoverished, McDougal emerges as a less-than-sympathetic wheeler-dealer who lost at the high-stakes games he played. He admits wrongdoing, but blames a vengeful Republican congressman for the harsh treatment his savings and loan received from federal bank examiners. Much of the book is spent portraying Arkansas's distinctive political/business environment, an unsavory saga much better told in Roger Morris's Partners in Power (LJ 8/96). McDougal claims Whitewater was a business deal in which the Clinton's did nothing wrong, but they perjured themselves afterward in federal testimony. Although he remembers Bill as a one-time friend, McDougal deplores Clinton's reputed affair with Susan, McDougal's former wife, and unleashes most of his contempt on Hillary for her alleged financial dealings at McDougal's expense. Although a "yellow dog" Democrat, McDougal offered to testify against the Clintons in the Whitewater investigation?an offer eagerly accepted. An optional purchase for public libraries.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
This is Mr. McDougal’s life story and he was far from a saint. He did many favors for politicians and people who contributed to politics. He also claims his wife had an affair with Bill Clinton even though she denied those allegations. Not easy for me to claim this man is unbiased in his dealing with Bill.
He uses most of his angry words towards Hillary but I found them to be mostly a misogynist blaming her for something her husband did.
I am sorry he died in prison. I am sorry he and his wife divorced. I am sorry his life came apart but I cannot put the blame on Bill and Hillary Clinton for his mistakes.
I borrowed this book from my local library.
The political stories fronm an Arkansas insider are light & funny. Some universally true about politicas & others peculiar to Arkansas.
The legal morass that McDougal found himself & tries to explain make for rough going in places but these segments are brief. Any good ol' boy or political junkie will like this book. As to the veracity of this book, Mr. McDougal knew he was dying & in fact died before it's publication. Most people do not wish to leave this world with a lie. He had considerable help from Curtis Wilkie, a professional writer, which probably helped him keep it real. Lloyd James' narration made it seem as if it actually was the voice of Jim McDougal.
In this book we find McDougal admitting, "I was put in a position where I might have to lie to protect the president," and in sworn testimony, "I told other lies."
Why would a reporter co-author want to be involved with the autobiography of an admitted liar? The only motive I can think of is to make sure that various stories and events were given the proper "spin" or were covered-up altogether.
The co-author gratuitously offers reasons to doubt McDougal. Footnotes also question whether the author's wife, Susan McDougal, had an affair with Bill Clinton as publicly claimed by McDougal.
But, there are some interesting tidbits that can be gleaned from this book: (1) Whitewater provided a conduit to funnel $2,000 per month to Hillary for services not rendered, and (2) Hillary illegally deducted loan payments made by the Whitewater corporation on the Clinton's personal tax returns.
McDougal, a real estate developer and savings & loan operator (who used his financial institution as a personal piggy bank), died at age 57 in federal prison after being convicted of multiple felonies in connection with obtaining loans and then applying the money to projects other than those covered in the loan applications.