I took this book with me on a vacation to Washington, D.C.—the perfect setting to dive into presidential history. Beginning with the unlikely friendship between Presidents Hoover and Truman and culminating with President Clinton’s visit to the White House briefing room to support President Obama’s tax/budget package, readers will learn much more about the political machinery that is the White House than you’ll ever discover from CNN, MSNBC or Fox. Believe it or not, Republicans and Democrats can get along.
I’m a little bit of a political junkie, but not so much that I would ever call myself an expert—I often find the written topic too dry to follow for more than a few paragraphs and end up frustrated that I can’t speak from a more educated position on all things historical. This book was particularly refreshing in that, because it’s told from the perspectives of relationships between people, it was much more engaging. It was from this book that I learned the seeds of Vietnam were sown during the Eisenhower administration. That Johnson was so damn needy. That Nixon really was a master manipulator. That Ford was much more eloquent and humble in his service than bumbling. And that while he couldn’t save Nixon from himself, he could save Clinton.
It’s no surprise you have to be the mother of all egomaniacs to run for president, let alone hold the office. So you can imagine the personal difficulty in transitioning from being the most powerful person on the planet to a private citizen. The Presidents Club is like a permanent halfway house for a very, very select group of men that gladly offer themselves up for service at just about any turn. Their motives aren’t necessarily up for debate—I got the feeling that aside from Nixon, these are men who truly care for their country and the office and want nothing more than to make the world a better place—but for whatever reason, the Presidents Club is a great mechanism to seize their power and use it to move personal and professional agendas forward.
A great nonfiction read—I would go so far as to say if you have high schoolers embarking on a US History class, this provides great insider perspective. Don’t miss.
The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity
Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy