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A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President Paperback – October 13, 2000
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Toobin's narrative is one of the most levelheaded versions of the 1998 scandal yet published, although he has very few kind words for anybody involved. "No other major political controversy in American history produced as few heroes as this one," he notes, and "in spite of his consistently reprehensible behavior, Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle." While debunking Hillary Rodham Clinton's claims that she and her husband were the victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" (a claim that ignores Clinton's responsibility for his actions), Toobin does demonstrate how lawyers for Paula Jones collaborated with Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg to build the most damaging case possible against the president. (He also suggests, not without cause, that Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff worked more closely with Tripp and Goldberg than he reported in his own book, Uncovering Clinton.)
While for the most part discreetly judgmental, A Vast Conspiracy sometimes borders on cruel in its descriptions of Monica Lewinsky: after describing a 45-minute discussion between Clinton and his sometime sex partner, Toobin comments, "An actual conversation with Lewinsky may have been the thing that cured the president of his infatuation," and then later, "There were few better measures of Tripp's dedication to her book research and Clinton-hating than the simple fact that she tolerated Lewinsky's inane chatter for so long." Yet his portrayal of Lewinsky as "a genuine, if occasional, sexual partner as well as an obsessed, unhinged fan" is, thanks to his rich storytelling abilities, compelling. (Whether it's true remains to be seen; some readers of his previous book, The Run of His Life, believe that Toobin's portrayal of O.J. Simpson seriously underestimated the suspected killer.) And, although it will no doubt get overlooked amidst all the salacious details of the case, Toobin makes a good argument for how the whole brouhaha was an inevitable result of several decades of "legal activism," in which lawsuits were used to achieve broad political changes. Between Richard Posner's musings on the legal aspects of the impeachment hearings in An Affair of State and Toobin's narrative reconstruction of the events leading up to the impeachment, we have the beginnings of a calm consideration of just what exactly happened to American politics during Clinton's second term. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Anthony Lewis The New York Review of Books A superb work of factual and legal analysis....Few novels are as gripping.
People A story as taut and surprising as any thriller....Unimpeachable page-turner.
David Kaiser The Boston Globe An irresistibly readable new overview of the whole ugly case.
The Economist A good read...a brave book.
Floyd Abrams The New York Observer A superlatively researched and written book.
Wayne Woodlief Boston Herald A richly detailed narrative...[and] a fascinating read.
Michael Coffey Publishers Weekly Toobin has risen to the challenge of rendering the chaos of the impeachment, what led up to it and its denouement, in a sharp prose style and in a manner that makes sense of a disastrous phase of American political history.
Sherryl Connelly Daily News Compulsively readable....A Vast Conspiracy delivers new information, provides arresting perspective and is a helluva read for all that.
Chicago Sun-Times A rich and readable reprise of the Clinton scandals by the New Yorker writer who shows brilliantly how the American legal system spun out of control.
Top Customer Reviews
It gets less than a perfect score because Mr. Toobin too often succumbs to the temptation of his own moralizing and gossip, even beyond valid criticism of questionable legal practices here and there. The facts about the individuals speak for themselves.
Undoubtedly, Clinton-haters will also hate this book, since it doesn't support their views. Toobin's main point - that there are political operatives in this country who do not respect the democratic process and instead seek redress in the legal system - is amply demonstrated in the Clinton/Lewinsky/Jones/Whitewater fiasco. This is the real news in this affair, not that presidents have uncontrollable egos (and libidos).
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the whole chain of events and is unafraid of being disgusted even more by everybody.
Toobin sets forth his theory through media reports, personal interviews and the legislative record, arguing factually and persuasively for a "vast conspiracy" far vaster and, at the same time, less consensual, than that envisioned by Hillay Clinton, an unwitting collaboration of right and left that ultimately discredited both, while diminishing the American people's respect for all three sectors of government. He misses none of his story's ironies, depicting the ineptness of the special prosecutor-who-was-not-a-prosecutor, the confusion and outrage of liberal Democrats as the very same tools that they had employed in the interest of social justice were coopted by the right, and the the almost Shakespearian psychodrama of flawed character, bad motives and bad luck that transformed a few tacky back-room sexual encounters into a national political crisis.
A former federal prosecutor, Toobin paints a damning picture of the ineptitude of the independent counsel's office, where confusion and inexperience reigned, while not sparing either the President or his advisors for their bad judgment. While it may make some people angry, this book is worth reading, and worth thinking about.
What the book does for the first time however, is shine a spotlight on Starr's woefully inept OIC, and recount the many errors that he and staff acculumated, as they bungled their way through impeachment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
the story of the Impeachment of President Bill Clinton.