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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • Moranna
  • Cincinnati, Ohio United States
  • 06-11-12

excellent listening

Would you consider the audio edition of The Presidents Club to be better than the print version?

no, would rate equally

What did you like best about this story?

an additional insight into the lives of the President's

Have you listened to any of Bob Walter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

no

Any additional comments?

This is one of the best books i have "read" this year....really insightful and interesting.

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  • Story

What Presidential power is really about.

Would you listen to The Presidents Club again? Why?

Yes, I would listen to this book again. I am sure I missed a few key points in the various stories. Also, the book is fascinating. It would be very easy to listen to it again.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Presidents Club?

There were many. But most of all it was understanding just how big of a crook Richard Nixon really was.

Have you listened to any of Bob Walter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, So I have no comparison.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Nixon sabotaged the peace talks with North Vietnam.

Any additional comments?

If you have any interest in high level politics and how they work this is a great book. The forward was a little dry and drawn out but once the real story begins it is hard to put this book down.

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Very interesting

This was a really interesting story, with particular reference to the relationship between the different presidents up to and including Bill Clinton.

the relationship between the different men was both very enjoyable and also enlightening. this is also the case when comparing the public face of the different presidents and the person who they really are.

The story made me also think about the different relationships that have existed between presidents and their vice presidents - that was not covered, unless the vice president went on to become president - and only then it was superficial.

It is obviously very difficult to write about the Obama administration and it's relationship with the past presidents, including the potential role they have played in getting votes in the senate and house for raising the debt ceiling etc. When that is able to be written I will certainly spend a credit on that too.

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Great to relive this history

Where does The Presidents Club rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best histories I have listened to because of the personal characterization it brought to our modern presidencies. I have relived the history of my youth with details that were not known to the public at that time in order to illustrate the relationships ex-presidents have with current presidents. It gives you a new outlook on presidents you thought you knew.

  • Overall
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Terrific - facinating - eye-opening...

Would you listen to The Presidents Club again? Why?

If you're interested in presidential politics this book is for you. You will learn things that you could not have imagined. More amazing than fiction. Well researched, well presented, a facinator that I couldn't stop listening to and at the same time didn't want it to end!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Harry Truman

What about Bob Walter’s performance did you like?

fine performance

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes - but I didn't do it.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed it so much that I ordered the book on Amazon and gave it to a very good friend for her birthday.

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A must read

This is a must read for students of American History, or those curious about the modern days presidents and their relations. It may very well change your perception about one or two of the last ten or so presidents.

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The Presidents Club

We enjoyed listening to this and had a lot to talk about during and after we heard the book. The political caricitures become human characters. The polarizing black and white of each era is dispelled by welcome persepective.

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Searching for a US Presidential family

There are human beings, mere human beings, who could make the choice to destroy our planet. The President of the United States is one of these people. This is an unimaginable burden.

The Presidents??? Club traces the relationships between various Presidents. The main theme is that that only former Presidents can understand the enormity and immense loneliness of the position. There are tears, heartbreak ??? the raw emotions of immense egos, greed, compassion, wisdom, fear, love ??? and that ever present question: how will the future judge me. We are given images of Reagan teaching Clinton how to salute, Clinton???s advice on making speeches being sought by Bush 43, Truman being ignored by Ike, the deep friendship between Bush 41 and Clinton, the personal as well as political challenges presented to Johnson and Ford following the Kennedy assassination, Nixon fixated on self redemption, Carter with almost unrestrained idealism. Of particular poignancy was the relationship between the two Bushes.

The reader is taken through presidential relationships in a calm, factual manner, supported by an authoritative but tired narrator. To my mind, this book amounted to a well researched, very lengthy magazine article. Different points of view were rarely included ??? that would have detracted from the narrative. Instead it sounds like homage to the positive presidential relationships, and almost a dismissal of those who really didn???t want to play the games of this club.

I don???t feel that the disorder, the messiness and brutality, the fears, bewildering information, the brinkmanship, the risks, and the immense decisions emerging from the constant avalanche of advice, were sufficiently explored.

Sentimentality pervades this account. The authors seem driven to discover -- or imagine, or create -- threads of a presidential family.

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Very Informative - Many Real Behind The Scenes

Where does The Presidents Club rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very informative and real behind the scenes activities and relationships explored. Also I found it interesting the closeness of the past Presidents, even though the public had a very different perception because of media.

Have you listened to any of Bob Walter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No - I would consider more.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The same as the book - It is a "club" and after listening to the book, I now understand why.

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History revisited as an intimate insider

What did you love best about The Presidents Club?

I felt like I was allowed inside an amazing secret society.

What did you like best about this story?

Whether I loved these individuals or not, I had a new appreciation for the sheer terror the office of President must often present.

What does Bob Walter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His reading brings a lyrical timing to the prose much like Sinatra did for a song.