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In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 30, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 30, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The language of clinical psychology can convey detachment—or, as in this starstruck study of the 42nd president, gushing admiration. Deploying his trademark diagnosis, Johns Hopkins psychologist Gartner (The Hypomanic Edge) pegs Clinton as a hypomanic personality with boundless energy and charisma, but prone to impulsive appetites and lapses in judgment. The author attributes much of Clinton's psyche to genes (many inherited, he argues, from an illegitimate father he tentatively identifies), but he also embraces Freudian notions: Clinton's relationships with women, Gartner contends, follow a pattern established in childhood when he felt torn between his bossy, Hillaryesque grandmother and his lushly erotic, Monica-like mother. Gartner sometimes overreaches—We can almost see Clinton going through the stages of his relationship with [stepfather] Roger in his approach to Bosnia—but his analysis of Clinton's political talents, right down to his mesmerizing facial expressions while on receiving lines, yields intriguing insights. The author himself unabashedly surrenders to Clinton's magnetism and genius intellect: [H]e has been walking in the footsteps of moral giants, Gartner rhapsodizes about Clinton during an AIDS-relief junket, comparing him to Jesus as a healer of the sick. Nevertheless, Gartner reminds us why this complex figure still fascinates. 17 pages of b&w photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Gartner (psychiatry, Johns Hopkins Medical Sch.) focused his previous book, The Hypomanic Edge, through a biographical-historical lens, on the mild form of mania that he believes can fuel outsized achievement in business, politics, and other fields. His new book is a single case study in hypomania, as for two years Gartner immersed himself in the life of Bill Clinton, reading the literature, interviewing dozens of friends and associates, and following the former President through Africa on a visit for Clinton's AIDS foundation. Like other biographers, Gartner finds that the dysfunctional family dynamics of Clinton's childhood explain a great deal, although many particulars and certainly the conclusion that Clinton is a moral hero differ from two earlier psychological studies, Paul Fick's The Dysfunctional President and Jerome Levin's The Clinton Syndrome. While some readers may consider reductive such observations as our Bosnia policy being a restaging of Clinton's relationship with his stepfather, all will be interested in details like Gartner's detective work that he believes has identified Clinton's actual biological father, and most will find the book an engaging combination of the clinical and the personal. Recommended for public libraries; optional for academic libraries.—Bob Nardini, Nashville
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031236976X
  • ASIN: B003D3OGGK
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,845,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tracey A. Laszloffy on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"In Search of Bill Clinton" was the most elucidating, intriguing and insightful analysis I have ever heard about our former President. I was hooked from the first page and could barely put it down. While I never thought of Clinton in the terms presented by Gartner, after reading his book I will forever think of Clinton in terms of the framework Gartner provided. This is a whole new way of understanding Bill Clinton that takes us well beyond the over simplified, pop psychology analyses suggesting that Clinton simply suffers from a sex addiction or the morally self-righteous judgments that merely accuse him of suffering from "bad" character. Instead Gartner suggests that Clinton has a hypomanic temperament which is an innate personality orientation characterized by extremely high levels of energy, optimism, creativity, charisma and exuberance (please note that a hypomanic temperament should not to be confused with a hypomanic episode which is a limit limited and mildly disturbed mental state). He goes on to explain that this temperament is combined with 3 (of 5) core dimensions of personality that Clinton happens to possess in extreme abundance; intellectual curiosity, empathy and extrovertness (by the way, the statistical probability of anyone s having these 3 dimensions in such abundance is one in quadrillion). In addition to this, Clinton is an intellectual genius with an IQ that is off the charts. His brilliance (which is further facilitated by having a photographic memory), his hypomanic temperament, and his remarkably high levels of intellectual curiosity, empathy and extrovertness are innate and remarkable parts of the man who overcame formidable odds to become our 42nd president. But the fun doesn't stop there.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This is an utterly stunning analysis of perhaps our brightest and yet most flawed President -- performed by now one our most impressive Psychoanalysts. In this book, Professor John D. Gartner, lays a psychoanalytic trap that is so clever, so compelling that it ensnares Bill Clinton and his "significant others" into a paradigm that is as clear and convincing as it is at the very frontier of psycho-historical analysis itself. With great skill, clarity, sensitivity, and a rich and convincing set of data based on interviews of those who knew the Clinton family best - from Hope, Arkansas all the way to Africa -- Professor Gartner demonstrates how our 42nd President drops off the scale in two directions at once: That is to say, on both the high end of the intelligence scale, and the low end of the scale of moral and social and sexual impulsiveness.

The excavated structural theme which the author carefully integrates into a compelling narrative, which he then builds into an even more compelling psychological paradigm, involves three elements: (1) Gartner's professional judgment that both Bill and his mother Virginia were "hypomanics;" (2) the fact that Bill was separated from his mother for two critically formative years (from the ages of 2-4), and that he grew up in a dysfunctional family trapped between two powerful and sexually promiscuous but warring women, both of whose behavior served as Bill's unconscious models; and both of whom demanded (and gave) implicitly, total love and loyalty.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book. I was hooked from the very first page. The author was veyr thorough in his research of Bill Clinton, delving into his inner life through extensive interviews with Clinton's hometown as well as public figures that worked with the former president in his political life. He also carefully combs through the memoirs and letters and biographies of people in Clinton's life, as well as Clinton himself, to map out Clinton's psychological profile.
I saw a different side to Clinton through the author's eyes.

The reason that I don't rate this book 5 stars, though, is that in the final chapter, when the author flies out to meet Clinton in Africa, the book becomes excessive, with the author writing in almost hushed, worshipful tones of Clinton; he even claims that Clinton "glowed". It was too much.

The rest of the book, though was an easy read.
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Format: Paperback
Lots of bits and pieces about Clinton's history that tell us more than was known before about life with his grandmother and mother, one sweet, the other sour. I feel personal vindication, as I have always thought -- as the author apparently does -- that Clinton's mother's death was what pushed him over the edge and into the ill fated affair. I do not, however, care for the fact that the author has chosen to perform distance diagnosis, and (wonder of wonders) it appears that Clinton has that very syndrome which is the focus of the author's career. By comparison, the "bad guys" are pathologized. I would expect better from someone affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University. Still, a good and fast read and one which evokes compassion for Clinton even in those who might not have been counted among his admirers.
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