Joe Klein is the author of "Primary Colors", the novel which was made into a successful film, as well as "The Running Mate", and two non-fiction books - "Woody Guthrie: A Life" and "Payback: Favie Marines After Vietnam".
Joe Klein is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of the novels Primary Colors and The Running Mate and two non-fiction books - Woody Guthrie: A Life and Payback: Favie Marines After Vietnam.
Klein may have set himself a formidable task when he decided to evaluate Bill Clinton's fractious presidency and his enigmatic personality without the camouflage of the fictitious characters that populated his bestselling Primary Colors, but he's more than up to it. This insightful, often funny book which provides a serious and intelligent look at the successes and failures of the Clinton administration as well as an insider's view of the sometimes sordid, sometimes exhilarating political and personal battles that engaged the President succeeds on every level. Clinton's positions on health care, affirmative action, NAFTA, welfare reform and foreign affairs are straightforwardly explained, and Klein's considerable knowledge and sophisticated understanding of the political arena add depth and breadth to the explanations. Klein doesn't can't ignore Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, of course, and he argues that Clinton's willingness to take such shocking risks demonstrates an intrinsic weakness of tragic proportions. But Klein is even more critical of the fanatical press that fed on the affair, and the Newt Gingrich-led Republican ideologues and their subsequent suicidal impeachment mission. Klein also provides brilliantly illuminating caricatures of the political players who swirled around Clinton. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms is an "antediluvian Visigoth," consultant Dick Morris "a prohibitively bizarre human being," and Gingrich is an "American Mullah" and a "faux revolutionary who tried to turn democracy into war." There will be numerous books written about Clinton and his presidency, but they will be hard pressed to capture the public and private Clinton as well as this one. (Mar.) Forecast: Who won't want to pick up this careful analysis by one of the nation's foremost political observers? With the author's big name and his subject's even bigger one this is sure to be a big seller. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'This book is more readable than the others, dense but tight, funny, adroitly written and, in sum, the first savvy synthesis of the Clinton Age.' - New York Times Book Review; 'A supremely fascinating look at a "serious, substantive presidency". No journalist is better matched to this subject than Klein, and his analysis deserves the wide attention it's bound to get.' - Kirkus Reviews; 'No other book published on the subject thus far offers such smart analysis, judicious reporting or accomplished prose. Klein's account of the presidency is remarkably balanced and intelligent.' - Los Angeles Times; 'Astute, brisk and brief... appropriately ambivalent' - Showtime
The Lewinsky affair and parting-shot presidential pardons helped obscure President Clinton's achievements, notes Klein, who as Anonymous wrote the thinly veiled Clintonian novel, Primary Colors. Haynes Johnson's The Best of Times: America in the Clinton Years (LJ 10/1/01) is a more substantial investigation, but Klein's provocative musings, based partly on three interviews with the former president, have the advantage of being written after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Clinton is not greatly faulted here for not hunting down Osama bin Laden because neither the public nor Congress would have tolerated a lengthy ground war during the Nineties. According to Klein, his major accomplishments saving the Democratic Party from possible extinction, rekindling an interest in public service, and improving the lives of America's poorest citizens were misunderstood, if not unrecognized, by a public bloated from a diet of scandal fed by a blood-lusting media. Arguably the best politician of his generation, Clinton was the inheritor, not the creator, of uncivil partisan battles, which began during the 1960s and metastasized 30 years later into the "Gingrichization of politics." Unfortunately, Clinton's unseemly behavior was an easy target for his enemies. Recommended for public libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.