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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, March 2017 - I was a little too young to fully grasp what was happening back in 1998 when my parents' television seemed like an endless string of talking heads, legal hearings, and sound bites about sexual relations, false allegations, and the evasive definition of the word is. But now - especially now - as an adult, it's impossible not to look at 'Lewinskygate' as anything but a seismic shift - politically and culturally - in our country, with echoes of the scandal still resounding in the bizarre and often confounding headlines of today - something that becomes abundantly clear in Kevin Stillwell's steadfast and honest reading. Toobin's previous book, The Run of His Life, became the basis for the FX show The People v. O.J. Simpson. And with the same no-holds-barred investigative journalism and juicy, legal thriller-like storytelling at work, it's no surprise that A Vast Conspiracy has already been chosen as the source material for American Crime Story's fourth season. —Doug, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

In A Vast Conspiracy, the best-selling author of The Run of His Life casts an insightful, unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time - the Clinton sex scandals. A superlative journalist known for the skillfulness of his investigating and the power of his writing, Jeffrey Toobin tells the unlikely story of the events that began over doughnuts in a Little Rock hotel and ended on the floor of the United States Senate, with only the second vote on presidential removal in American history. This is an entirely fresh look at the scandal that very nearly brought down a president.

Packed with news-making disclosures and secret documents published here for the first time, Toobin unravels the three strands of a national scandal - those leading from Paula Jones, Kenneth Starr, and Monica Lewinsky - that created a legal, personal, and political disaster for Bill Clinton. A Vast Conspiracy is written with the narrative drive of a sensational (if improbable) legal thriller, and Toobin brilliantly explores the high principle and low comedy that were the hallmarks of the story. From Tripp to Goldberg, Isikoff to Hyde, the complex and tangled motivations behind the scandal are laid bare.

While misguided, outlandish behavior was played out at the very highest level, Toobin analyzes the facts and the key figures with a level of dignity and insight that this story has not yet received. The Clinton scandals will shape forever how we think about the signature issues of our day - sex and sexual harassment, privacy and perjury, civil rights, and, yes, cigars. Toobin's book will shape forever how we think about the Clinton scandals.

©1999 Jeffrey Toobin (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bias Shows in this book

I, like so many others, watched these events unfold as they happened. I was hopeful that this book would shed new light on an important event in the American presidency. Instead, I believe that the well-respected Jeffrey Toobin had a version he wanted to tell and that is what he did. Although not fawning over the former president, the author made it clear that Clinton was owed the benefit of the doubt in most instances.

In my opinion the bottom line, no matter what the subject matter, the president committed perjury. That point was lost in the late 90's and was basically glossed over in this book. It was a disappointing end to a book that could have gone so much farther than it did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Insight into Why the Clintons are Targeted

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would. Bill Clinton is a favorite President of mine. Flawed certainly. Why, oh why just not say "Yeah, it happened. Monica is just ...a really close associate".I found explanation for the numerous and ongoing assaults on the Clintons. Unfounded if you're Liberal, slam dunk proven if you're Conservative. The "truth" is based on what news network you listen to. Which may be the biggest cause of the issues the country faces and has for a long while.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The process leading up to the intimate incidents, up to almost destroying a political career.

Which character – as performed by Kevin Stillwell – was your favorite?

This is a nonfiction narrative. Mr. Stillwell did a fine job in that respect. No one stands out as "favorite". I deducted a star because there is an acoustics issue. I found myself straining to listen and understand. Almost like sound absorbing material is clipping the hard syllables. More a technical thing. Do you hear it?

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

I looked forward to listening to Toobin's book. It was a strong event when I watched and read while it transpired.

Any additional comments?

I mention that I'm a Liberal. I think I picked up a pro Clinton slant in the book. A Conservative may argue that it is enough to dismiss the book. In my opinion, there is enough insight and timeline material to explain what happened so a reader can make his or her own judgement. Don't be put off that the first chapter is a list of the players. The story reads in an informative, appropriate pace.

9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Doesn't work as an audio book

Toobin is a great writer, but this just does not work as an audio book and I wish I never bought it.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Felt a little biased, but still very interesting

I say this as a liberal who really liked Bill Clinton when he was president and also as someone who really likes Jeffrey Toobin, this book does have a bias towards Clinton and against the Office of Independent Council and the forces that led up to the Kennett Starr investigation and impeachment proceedings.

That being said, I enjoyed this book immensely and was also given a fuller picture of all the things that led up to the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal and the resulting fallout.

I also found it interesting how in this time of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that my opinion of Bill Clinton's actions are different, and perhaps not as sympathetic, than they were when the events actually happened. However, the Lewinsky/Clinton affair was a consensual one, although between an immature woman and a man who should have known better.

What really struck me when listening to this book is how much more I cared about the fact that Clinton lied than I did at the time the affair was made known to the public. I feel maybe Toobin tries to justify those lies too much, and yet I find myself more disappointed in Clinton's behavior after reading this book whereas at the time I was much more sympathetic.

What I loved about the book the most was that it made me reevaluate, or at least consider, some of my previous preconceptions.

I thought the reader was excellent. He was really easy to listen to and kept me engaged. Definitely worth a read or listen.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Filled in Lots of Details

I don't normally read this type of book but heard Rachel Maddow recommend it. Glad it was available on Audible. Listened to it at 1.25+ speed which helped. Like most Americans I knew lots of stuff about the Pres. Bill and Ms. Lewinsky saga. But, I didn't know lots of the details or about the politics of it. Listening to this book, I learned a whole lot. I'm very glad I listened to this book by Jeffrey Toobin.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent look at a story everyone knows

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Toobin's take on Clinton and the Lewinsky story is fascinating. Everyone is a user and a liar. Everyone feels like a victim. The whole sordid mess is dissected and the blame for how it got so out of hand is clearly laid at almost every participant's feet. Fascinating.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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will not change minds

Would you listen to A Vast Conspiracy again? Why?

Yes I would, with added books from figures on both sides of the issue.Regardless of what you may think about this impeachment i would like to know more through the eyes of those who lived it.Like the Clinton Wars by Sidney Blumenthal, I am not aware of any book by a member of the Republican Party who was involved. But I would be the first to buy both books if they were made available by audible.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The set of one in a million coincidences that made events happen as they did.

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

No, but my five star rating speaks for itself.

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

No, but depending on how you feel about certain subjects, I can see someone having either reaction.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to any adult who is curious about modern history.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Non-Fiction as opposed to Creative Non-Fiction

Would you try another book from Jeffrey Toobin and/or Kevin Stillwell?

Not sure.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The book begins by listing a dozen or so players. Not interesting reading. It then continues with more names. Names of Paula Jones co-workers, family and an army of lawyers, all named. Then there were her hangers-on and a host of new lawyers which must be named. I'm only half way through the book and don't know that I have the fortitude to go on. All reporters have been named, then all the lawyers for Monica, Bill and all his White House staff. All the lawyers for the Star Investigation - named.
He gave us verbatim transcripts of Linda Tripp's phone calls with Monica, one even included all the "um's". Also, he uses verbatim court transcripts. This book is not creative non-fiction.

Could you see A Vast Conspiracy being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I hope not.

Any additional comments?

By the time we got to the Monica part, I didn't care anymore.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not objective

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. It reveals very little new information, and it is written in a biased tone. Perhaps, I should have gleaned that from its title. Despite the fact that I am in general agreement with the author's conclusions, I thought that the language used was condescending. I guess I was expecting it to be written like an historical analysis rather than an accusatory catharsis.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Written by a Clinton Hater

What would have made A Vast Conspiracy better?

If it was written from a non biased viewpoint

Would you ever listen to anything by Jeffrey Toobin again?

Probably not.

What about Kevin Stillwell’s performance did you like?

Fine.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disapointment at being biased.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful