The first history of the private relationships among modern American presidents—their backroom deals, rescue missions, secret alliances, and enduring rivalries.
The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The letter from Nixon that Bill Clinton rereads every year. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Journalists and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new tool to understand the presidency by exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: It's hard to imagine a more obviously fascinating prism through which to look at American history and politics since the end of World War II. Starting with the surprisingly effective relationship of Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover, and following through "Obama and His Club," TIME Magazine's Executive Editor Nancy Gibbs and Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy trace the surprising, complicated story of "the world's most exclusive fraternity." Sitting presidents and their predecessors have at times proved remarkably simpatico, at others impossible thorns in each other's sides. The authors' extensive research demonstrates that ex-Presidents have a penchant for morphing from consummate team players into irascible rogues, sometimes within weeks, as they strive both to remain relevant and to shape their own legacies. In Gibbs and Duffy's hands, their stories never fail to captivate. --Jason Kirk