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.
©2012 Nancy Gibbs, Michael Duffy (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio
"This is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.” (Robert Dallek, best-selling author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963)
“Forget Rome’s Curia, Yale’s Skull and Bones and the Bilderbergs - the world’s most exclusive club never numbers more than six. Its rules are inscrutable, and its members box the compass politically and stylistically.... Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs have penetrated thick walls of secrecy and decorum to give us the most intimate, revealing, and poignant account of the constitutional fifth wheel that is the ex-presidency. Readers are in for some major surprises, not to mention a history they won’t be able to put down.” (Richard Norton Smith, author of Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation)
“The Presidents Club is magnetically readable, bursting with new information and behind-the-scenes details. It is also an important contribution to history, illuminating the event-making private relationships among our ex-Presidents and why we should do a far better job of drawing on their skills and experience.” (Michael Beschloss, best-selling author of The Conquerers)
I enjoyed this book, however, there were times when I wondered why the authors chose to believe one unsubstantiated rumor but not another. In particular, why the authors refused to believe the story of Johnson bugging Nixon's campaign plane (when the former President told Nixon he did it and any potential proof was stolen by Johnson personel) yet totally accepted as fact the notion that Reagan offered a power-sharing deal with former President Ford.
Both stories based on oral testimony and both lacking any paper trail. I would choose to treat both as interesting but unproven. Aside from this, the book seems lacking an obvious partisan bias.
The stories of Jimmy Carter's treason should have caused more notice in the press and public. This book was the first I heard of it and I consider myself fairly well educated in politics and history.
As a nation of law and order even Presidents sitting and former should be held accountable. Carter should be sitting in prison today but we turn a blind-eye when everything works out ok. Doesn't hurt that Carter has built a sympathetic public through his charity work.
Author of The Productivity Epiphany
Any student of presidential history or of US government will find this book a very informative and enthralling read.
And the "facts" are highly skewed. It does not include any kind of editorial distance or viewpoint, for instance, saying "this is what he said" or "this is how she remembered it." It is offered as history but written in the style of pure fiction.
I love David McCullough's work and don't have this issue with him. In contrast, this book seems very intellectually dishonest, I'm sorry to say.
Very good book and performance. I look forward to a second edition now that Obama will be a member in his post presidency years.
Jack & Deb Daniels
I enjoyed the fact this was more about modern presidents than anything else, I learned a great deal. Great story, but the guy reading has a voice that puts you to sleep.
Loved it. You already know the cast but you don't know the relationships. Each chapter surprised me with a relationship, a feud, a slight or an praise for men I never thought about connecting with one another. Fun book. Great stories.
Great read if you are a political history junkie. The gamesmanship between current and former presidents, going back to Hoover, makes for a book that offers something for everyone, regardless of political stripe.
The insights into decisions that were made before and during my lifetime were extremely interesting and thought provoking. I find myself thinking much more kindly on all the presidents.
The narrator took a little getting used to but quickly became the right approach for these stories.
This book makes history more real by bringing it down to a more personal level. Presidents are real people with personalities and struggles, not just characters with names and dates below them in a history text. It is fascinating to hear how the presidents interacted with each other and how they helped or complicated things for the other presidents.
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