by Nigel Hamilton
Nigel Hamilton's account of Bill Clinton's early life and career - "Bill Clinton: An American Journey" - drew widespread praise for its candid reconstruction of the archetypal baby-boomer's extraordinary political ascent, from humble beginnings in small-town Arkansas to the winning of the White House at age 46 in November 1992. Now, in "Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency", Nigel Hamilton takes us on another journey: charting the experience of the 42nd President as he took presidential oath of office; and, how he fared thereafter in the piranha pool of Washington D.C. In riveting narrative, Hamilton charts what was possibly the greatest disaster and re-reinvention of a president in office in modern times.
The Clinton Administration began ominously badly - kicking off with the worst Transition in living memory. The presidency then deteriorated through a series of fiascos at every level, from domestic policy and congressional relations to international failures such as Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda and the failure to act over Bosnia. The disaster over health care reform capped a litany of errors; in fact, when the Democrats lost their majority in both houses of Congress in 1994 for the first time in forty years it looked as if the President's days in office were numbered.
How Bill Clinton faced up to his failures, and refashioned himself in the White House thereafter - from the Oklahoma City bombing to the peace he established in Bosnia, the battle with Speaker Newt Gingrich over the nefarious shutdown of the U.S. Government in 1995 and Clinton's trouncing of his Republican opponent Bob Dole in the 1996 election - is thus an epic one. It is a story that climaxes with William Jefferson Clinton becoming the first Democrat to win re-election to the White House since Franklin Roosevelt.
With a thriving U.S. economy and hard-won wisdom in international affairs and in combating the rise of terrorism, Clinton would begin his second term as the undisputed, immensely popular leader of the Western world - aware, however, that terrors ant treason within America loomed as large as dangers abroad. Insightful, balanced, prodigiously researched and a joy to read, "Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency" is set to become, alongside its prequel, the classic story of Clinton's extraordinary effort to be a modern president, in a modern world - and a chronicle one of the most extraordinary reversals of fortune in modern American politics.