From the Publisher
"This major new book part history - part memoir - is the riveting inside account of the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton. When in 1997 Clinton appointed Sidney Blumenthal as a senior adviser, the writer who had been covering the Washington political scene for more than a decade was catapulted into the front lines of the Clinton wars. From his first day in the White House until long after his appearance as the only presidential aide ever to testify in an impeachment trial, Blumenthal participated in nearly all the battles of the Clinton years." "The Clinton Wars begins in 1987, when Bill Clinton was starting to think of running for the presidency and when Blumenthal first met him. The chronicle of Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and first term draws on the author's experiences as confidant to both the President and the First Lady, and is enriched with previously unpublished revelations about both. Blumenthal's remarkable personal interpretation goes far in explaining the polarizing nature of Clinton's presence on the national scene." "The narrative of Clinton's second term is even more dramatic. Blumenthal takes special note of the battle waged within the media between the President's detractors and his defenders, which he expands into a vivid picture of Washington society torn apart by warring factions. But he does not neglect the wars fought on other fronts - the devastating war in Kosovo; Clinton's political conflicts in the Congress; his crusade to sustain as fiscally sound economic policy that would foster prosperity; and, of course, his struggle against the impeachment charges brought against him. Blumenthal's remarkable book also includes firsthand accounts of the President's special relationship with Tony Blair, of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign in New York, and of the fight to elect Al Gore in 2000, with its incredible denouement in Florida. It ends with an eloquent assessment of what the Clinton legacy means for the future of America.
The New York Times
Blumenthal's book may do more to stir old controversies than settle them. But participants in the Clinton wars would do well to understand that re-fighting 90's battles will be of less benefit to the country than detached analysis explaining how we can avoid future unproductive quarrels over the personal weaknesses of our presidents. Still, for anyone who wants to revisit the political acrimony of the Clinton years, Blumenthal's book is the place to begin. - Robert Dallek
Blumenthal's 800-page gorilla of a book is the former Clinton adviser's indictment of his, and his boss's, pursuers: Republicans in Congress, Kenneth Starr and his minions and the journalists he says were their patsies. It's also a defense of his own role in the Clinton scandals and a loyal account of Clinton's presidency as a highly successful one dedicated to progressive values. The heart of the book is an often tediously detailed account of the Whitewater investigation, the Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment, in which his own role was notable-accused of smearing the opposition, he was known to the anti-Clintonites as "Sid Vicious" and was the only presidential aide called to a deposition at the Senate impeachment hearings (which culminate in a hilarious "Alice in Wonderland" q&a session). The scandals are sandwiched between drier, partisan accounts of Clinton's policies and actions both before and after impeachment, but with only rare glimpses of Clinton the man. Blumenthal argues that there was "an Italianate conspiracy" arrayed against Clinton, "an intricate, covert, amoral operation bent on power," funded by Richard Mellon Scaife and fronted by a ruthlessly vindictive Starr. But Blumenthal is most damning about his onetime colleagues in the press (he wrote for the New Republic and the Washington Post); journalists admitted to him, he says, that they couldn't criticize Starr because they needed leaks from his staff for their stories. Blumenthal paints nasty portraits of Matt Drudge (who accused him of wife-beating), the late Michael Kelly (who here displays an irrational hatred of him) and Christopher Hitchens ("capable of doing harm without conscience or regret"). Often fascinating and undoubtedly controversial, Blumenthal's book will receive much media attention, but most readers will wish it were a whole lot shorter.
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