The Presidents Club
by Nancy Gibbs
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781439127704 If you think you know the history of the American presidency since World War II, think again. Gibbs and Duffy (TIME magazine deputy managing editor and executive editor, respectively) tell the inside story of specific U.S. Presidents from Harry S. Truman through Barack Obama from the perspective of the use each made of previous Presidents' experience, knowledge, and political skills. In-depth reports of unlikely relationships between opponents such as Truman and former President Hoover, Nixon and LBJ, and Kennedy and Eisenhower show that each man knew when to put politics and personal feelings aside for the good of the country and administration success. Especially engaging is the authors' account of the improbable mutual admiration society that developed between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The authors cover Nixon's careful cultivation of his successors as he set about to rehabilitate his image, and they give readers a new appreciation for his invaluable advice on foreign policy and his near-faultless political instinct (albeit with exceptions). Jimmy Carter's postpresidential independence and unwillingness to follow instructions frustrated sitting Presidents, but results often showed Carter's intuition was correct. With research in presidential papers and the published record, this is a fascinating and fun read that will appeal to political junkies and history buffs alike. Highly recommended.-Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781439127704 Silence, Gibbs and Duffy aver, is one rule of the ex-presidents club, one evidently with a time limit, since they offer 600-plus pages of Oval Office anecdotes from Truman to Obama. Developing other informal protocols of membership in their accounts, Gibbs and Duffy underscore the advice given and tasks undertaken by former chief executives at the behest of the incumbent. They don't mention the retirement correspondence between club founders Jefferson and Adams but start with Truman's summons of Herbert Hoover from exile to help fix up postwar Europe. This sets up a suprapartisan ethos as an aspiration for interpresidential relations, one difficult to maintain, as attested by Truman's feud with Eisenhower, Nixon and Johnson's skulduggery over Vietnam peace talks during the 1968 election, and Reagan's nomination challenge to Ford in 1976. Political battles over, presidents indulge in, if not mutual admiration, at least commiseration on the unique responsibilities of the office: witness JFK's consultation with Ike after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. For its behind-the-scenes flavor and accent on personalities, Gibbs and Duffy's production will score with the political set.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781439127704 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.