The Presidents Club

  • by Nancy Gibbs, Michael Duffy
  • Narrated by Bob Walter
  • 22 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Presidents Club was born at Eisenhower’s inauguration when Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover first conceived the idea. Over the years that followed - and to this day - the presidents relied on, misunderstood, sabotaged, and formed alliances with one another that changed history. The world’s most exclusive fraternity is a complicated place: its members are bound forever because they sat in the Oval Office and know its secrets, yet they are immortal rivals for history’s favor.
Some presidents needed their predecessors to keep their secrets; others needed them to disappear. Most just needed help getting the job done. Truman enlisted Hoover to help him save Europe; Kennedy turned to Ike on Cuba; Nixon sought Johnson’s advice on getting reelected, but then tried to blackmail him; Ford and Carter couldn’t stand each other until they saw what they had in common; Reagan and Clinton relied on Nixon as an off-the-books emissary to Russia; Bush put Clinton and his father to work and they became like father and son; and Obama and Clinton became quiet rivals for the same crown.
Journalists and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy unravel the secret compacts, the shared scars, and the private cease-fires from Hoover to Obama. The Presidents Club will change the way we think about the presidency, for the club itself is an instrument of presidential power.

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What the Critics Say

"This is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.” (Robert Dallek, best-selling author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963)
“Forget Rome’s Curia, Yale’s Skull and Bones and the Bilderbergs - the world’s most exclusive club never numbers more than six. Its rules are inscrutable, and its members box the compass politically and stylistically.... Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs have penetrated thick walls of secrecy and decorum to give us the most intimate, revealing, and poignant account of the constitutional fifth wheel that is the ex-presidency. Readers are in for some major surprises, not to mention a history they won’t be able to put down.” (Richard Norton Smith, author of Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation)
The Presidents Club is magnetically readable, bursting with new information and behind-the-scenes details. It is also an important contribution to history, illuminating the event-making private relationships among our ex-Presidents and why we should do a far better job of drawing on their skills and experience.” (Michael Beschloss, best-selling author of The Conquerers)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Inflection of narrator really annoying

I've read MANY historical accounts of the presidencies covered in this book, and did notice a few areas where the accounts here didn't quite jive with others (considered to be authoritative), but I can't speak to the bias that I noticed in other reviews, as I'm not far enough along to have encountered them. I certainly don't see it thus far, and I'm up to the account of Nixon's campaign. I've never written a review prior to finishing a book, but this one made me want to due to the narration. Perhaps it will help someout out.

Argghh! I'm truly surprised that more folks haven't mentioned this, but Bob Walter's inflection and pacing is reminiscent of a really bad John Wayne impression. I'm not terribly picky about narration in general, and thus didn't listen to the sample. I wish I had. I find his pacing, inflection, and emphasis bizarre, and very distracting and annoying. This experience . . . has . . . taught me that I . . . should definitely . . . listen to the . . sample before I . . . purchase . . . a book. I'll certainly avoid him in the future, as it makes the book a tedious listen for me.

Finally, at least thus far, the authors didn't seem to have enough material to warrant a book on the specific topic of the relationships between past and present presidents, and spend a considerable amount of time away from that angle. I understand the need to provide historical context to readers, certainly, but much of the time it feels like the 'presidents club' is more of an aside. I was hoping for more on this specific topic, as it's interesting, and usually an aside in more focused biographies of presidents. However, this doesn't provide much to previous works in this respect. As such, it kind of feels like more of a marketing angle to justify a history of the presidencies of Truman through the present. If you haven't read a lot of political history, that might be more interesting to you, but if you've read a lot, it's mostly a re-hash with a little more emphasis on the presidential relationships.

Just to put this review in context, it is the worst I've ever given, by far--and again, mostly due to the narration, and to a lesser extent, to the paltry amount of new information regarding the presidential relationships.
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- LucyLu

I didn't want it to end

Would you listen to The Presidents Club again? Why?

I would listen to it again, probably after a few years. After more history is revealed about the Presidents, would be interesting to go back and compare what is in the book to things that have come to light since its publication.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Presidents Club?

Three ex-presidents traveling to Egypt for the funeral of Anwar Sadat. Some of it was funny because of the awkwardness but in the end Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter became sort of friends.


Any additional comments?

I found out so many things I never knew. I never knew that Harry Truman barely had any money, what a sensitive spirit Lyndon Johnson had or how close Bill Clinton is to the Bush family. There are many memorable moments in the book, many very touching, even about Richard Nixon.

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- L.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-17-2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio