Monday, February 16, 2015
THE PRESIDENT'S CLUB: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: American History
Reviewed by WC
About the Book: The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
WC's Review: It is unsettling to sit back and consider that two of America's most incompetent presidents were the most sought-after advisers by successors.
Would you really want Nixon and Carter to advise you on how to run the country? Bring back wage and price controls and CDs that offer 18 percent while paying a mortgage of 21!
Nixon may have had experience and insight into foreign relations, however, threatening to subsidize Russia and China into submission, but Carter remained adamant in demanding that Arafat be recognized for his genius in keeping Israel confined and restricted in its role in the Middle East.
The exclusive president's club was formed when Herbert Hoover couldn't leave well enough alone. For reasons that remain unclear, Harry S Truman invited the architect of economic disaster back into the White House to give advice on how to keep the poor poor, a requisite which Carter-advised Obama is bringing to fruition.
Truman gained entrance into this fraternity by reluctantly advising Eisenhower, who really didn't much give a damn, while Kennedy followed suit with Harry and Ike, joined by Nixon's expertise as vice president.
Thankfully Ford and Reagan wisely remained passive.
Where do authors Gibbs and Duffy, of the New York Times, get their information into the delicious dalliances of this smarmy mutual admiration society?
This book is definitely readable, only for the mind-boggling, fairy tale relationships. 4 Stars
About the Author: Nancy Gibbs is the author of nearly 100 TIME cover stories, including four "Person of the Year" essays and dozens of stories on the 1998 impeachment fight and the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns. She wrote TIME's September 11th memorial issue as well as weekly essays on the unfolding story and its impact on the nation. Ms. Gibbs's article "If You Want to Humble an Empire..." won the Luce Awards' 2002 Story of the Year and the Society of Professional Journalists' 2002 Sigma Delta Chi Magazine Writing Award.
Ms. Gibbs joined TIME in 1985, first in the International section. She then wrote feature stories for five years before joining the Nation section.
She graduated in 1982 from Yale, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and also earned a degree in politics and philosophy from Oxford University. In 1993 she was named Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, where she taught a seminar on Politics and the Press. Her writing is included in the Princeton Anthology of Writing, edited by John McPhee and Carol Rigolot.