The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity

The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity

Nancy Gibbs, Michael Duffy

Language: English

Pages: 656

ISBN: 1439127727

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The New York Times bestselling history of the private relationships among the last thirteen presidents—the partnerships, private deals, rescue missions, and rivalries of those select men who served as commander in chief.

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 unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.

Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.

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by bakers, a huge government purchase of oats for export, and an extra 30-cent bonus above the ceiling for every bushel of wheat delivered before May 25. It was Hoover’s turn next. Where Truman was practical, Hoover was preacherly, searching for language to scrape the conscience. Though he had been sounding the alarms for years, Hoover sensed that this was the first time people were really paying attention. Tens of millions tuned in, by far the largest audience he’d had since leaving the White

where we honestly disagreed,” Clinton explained. “But if you do it in the right way, you are always working for that more perfect union.” When the money stopped coming in, the two men decided to shut down the charity, divide up the remaining cash, and let each man spend their portion in the region as he saw fit. “He made one hundred percent of the decisions on [his] money and I made one hundred percent of decisions [on mine],” Clinton explained, adding wistfully, “It all worked well. . . . If we

James Reston Jr., The Lone Star: The Life of John Connally (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), 366. By the night of Humphrey’s nomination: “Dementia in the Second City,” Nation, Time, September 6, 1968. “Not for a bunch of goddamn draft dodgers”: Johnson, “Did Nixon Commit Treason in 1968?” This was not like an FDR coalition: Safire, Before the Fall, 62. “It was one of the few times”: Bob Faiss, memo to James R. Jones, September 10, 1968, Presidential Papers: Special Files: White House Famous

Kent State shootings, 268, 525 Kerry, John, 486 KGB, 386 Khrushchev, Nikita, 106, 134, 137, 142, 143, 144, 148–49, 150, 525 Killian, James, Jr., 141 Kim Il Sung, 12, 435–37, 438, 440, 441, 517 Kim Jong Il, 517, 518 Kim Jong-un, 518 Kim Young Sam, 438, 442 King, Larry, 431, 518 King, Martin Luther, Jr., 155–56, 185 Kirkpatrick, Jeane, 342 Kirkpatrick, Lyman, 140 Kissinger, Henry, 269, 272, 313, 332, 333, 335, 342, 420 on bombing halt file, 273–74 China trip with Ford of, 317

personal. If for no other reason than to signal America’s stability, he called both Truman and Eisenhower within hours of his swearing in following Kennedy’s assassination, and they were at his side at the White House the next day. He was fully conscious of the power of his predecessors and protective of their privileges. He studied them, fed and tended them, sent flowers, cuff links, statues, put Air Force jets and helicopters at their disposal, had his aides research every single contact he

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