Reviews for Presidents Club : Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity

Kirkus Reviews 2012 April #1
Two Time magazine editors chart the zigzag arc of relationships among the men who have occupied the White House since the mid 20th century. With their knowledge of the territory of presidential politics and personality, Gibbs and Duffy (co-authors: The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, 2007) assemble a compelling account of their tangled relationships. When Truman called on Hoover to help with post–World War II recovery in Germany, the latter was in political purgatory, reviled by his own party. Throughout this massive work, the authors present numerous instances of presidents warming to their predecessors in surprising ways. Sometimes mutual admiration was already in place (Truman and Eisenhower--though it later disintegrated); sometimes, antipathy (Clinton and Bush II). But almost always the sitting presidents found in their predecessors some solace, willing ears and sound advice. Jimmy Carter emerges as a loose cannon, combining vast international experience (and a deep humanity) with a maverick spirit and a yearning for the limelight that caused some of his successors to cringe and curse. (Oddly, the authors do not say much about Carter's relationships with Bush II or Obama.) JFK turned to Ike at crucial times (Bay of Pigs); Clinton and Nixon developed a close relationship, though Nixon once threatened to write a negative op-ed if Clinton did not consult him about Nixon's upcoming trip to Russia. It was Reagan, write Gibbs and Duffy, who first called Nixon back from exile. Gerald Ford emerges as a genial soul, telling scandal-ridden Clinton that he'd better confess his lies. Perhaps the closest of all relationships was between Clinton and Bush I, a friendship literally birthed by a tsunami. In a well-researched, disinterested analysis, the authors show that collisions of ego, personality and politics can often result in creation, not destruction. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 March #3

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(May)

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