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The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternityby Nancy Gibbs
Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling authors of The Preacher and the Presidents return with a riveting new history of the private relationships among the last thirteen presidents, uncovering and exploring the partnerships, private deals, rescue missions, and rivalries of those few men who served as commander in chief.
The Presidents Club was born at Eisenhower’s inauguration when Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover first conceived the idea. Over the years that followed—and to this day—the presidents relied on, misunderstood, sabotaged, and formed alliances with one another that changed history. The world’s most exclusive fraternity is a complicated place: its members are bound forever because they sat in the Oval Office and know its secrets, yet they are immortal rivals for history’s favor.
Some presidents needed their predecessors to keep their secrets; others needed them to disappear. Most just needed help getting the job done. Truman enlisted Hoover to help him save Europe; Kennedy turned to Ike on Cuba; Nixon sought Johnson’s advice on getting reelected, but then tried to blackmail him; Ford and Carter couldn’t stand each other until they saw what they had in common; Reagan and Clinton relied on Nixon as an off-the-books emissary to Russia; Bush put Clinton and his father to work and they became like father and son; and Obama and Clinton became quiet rivals for the same crown.
Journalists and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy unravel the secret compacts, the shared scars, and the private cease-fires from Hoover to Obama. The Presidents Club will change the way we think about the presidency, for the club itself is an instrument of presidential power.
"In this anecdote-rich book, Gibbs and Duffy, the deputy managing editor and executive editor of Time, respectively, maintain that the relationships among former presidents have been characterized by 'cooperation, competition, and consolation.' Perhaps the most interesting tie they discuss is their first: Faced with the great need for food relief in Europe in 1945, Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover (who had provided food relief to Europe in WWI) overcame their mutual distrust to rally non-isolationist Republicans around the Marshall Plan. Another striking example of bipartisan cooperation, was that between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to raise millions for the victims of the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haitian earthquake. But the authors' most remarkable stories are of competition, such as candidate Richard Nixon pursuing his own diplomatic track with North Vietnam, undermining LBJ's efforts to secure a peace deal to end the Vietnam War. As for consolation, and plain practical help, Gibbs and Duffy (co-authors of The Preacher and the Presidents, about the Rev. Billy Graham) provide numerous examples, such as Kennedy relying on Eisenhower (whom he once called 'that old asshole') for advice following the Bay of Pigs fiasco. While this work could have used some pruning, it is canny, vivid, and informative on an important and little-explored subject. 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: Bob Barnett" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The first history of the private relationships among modern American presidents—their backroom deals, rescue missions, secret alliances, and enduring rivalries.
The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhowers 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 historys 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 letter from Nixon that Bill Clinton rereads every year. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Journalists and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new tool to understand the presidency by exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
About the Author
Nancy Gibbs is Executive Editor of TIME magazine and co author with Michael Duffy of the New York Times bestseller The Preacher and the Presidents; Billy Graham in the White House. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the ten best magazine writers in the country, she is the author of more than 150 TIME cover stories and now writes the back essay page. Her story for the black-bordered special issue on September 11, 2001, won the National Magazine Award, and she was the lead TIME writer on virtually every major news event from Oklahoma City to Hurricane Katrina, as well as the last five presidential campaigns; after the 2008 election, Politico.com described her as “the poet laureate of presidents.”
She graduated from Yale summa cum laude with honors in history, and has a degree in politics and philosophy from Oxford, where she was a Marshall scholar. Her writing is included in The Princeton Anthology of Writing, Best Political Writing 2005 and numerous writing textbooks. She has twice served as the Ferris Professor at Princeton, where she taught a seminar on Politics and the Press.
Gibbs is a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, including the Today show, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, Charlie Rose, and has appeared as an essayist on the NewsHour on PBS.
She is a former elder and deacon of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.
The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, was published in August 2007 by Center Street, a division of the Hachette Book Group USA, and named one of the top politics and current affairs books of the year by Barnes and Noble. Michael Duffy is TIME’s Washington Bureau Chief and directs the coverage of presidents, politics and national affairs for both the magazine and Time.com.
Duffy joined TIME in 1985 as a Pentagon correspondent and in the 25 years since has covered the Congress, the White House, national politics and national security. In addition to serving as Washington Bureau Chief, he is currently the magazine’s Nation editor.
Duffy, who has written more than 50 TIME cover stories, has won the Gerald R. Ford Award for reporting both on the White House (1994) and defense and national security (2005). With a team from TIME, he has shared in the Joan Shorenstein Barone Prize for Investigative Journalism awarded by the Kennedy School of Government in 1997.
He is the co-author, with TIME’s Nancy Gibbs, of The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House (Center Street, 2007). The two editors are currently at work on The Presidents’ Club, which will be published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster.
Duffy has been a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and has appeared regularly on PBS’s Washington Week in Review for the past 15 years. Prior to joining TIME, he was a staff writer at Defense Week.
Duffy was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, graduated from Oberlin College in 1980. He and his wife, Demetra Lambros, have three sons and live in Maryland.
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