by Martin Walker ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1996
In a warts-and-all but ultimately respectful attempt to capture the manifold contradictions and promise of Bill Clinton and his administration, Walker, US bureau chief for the Guardian (The Cold War, 1994, etc.), portrays the president as the archetypal figure of America's postwar meritocracy. Walker characterizes Clinton's upbringing and childhood in postwar Arkansas as a quintessentially American story: Raised in a home fraught with pain and conflict, Clinton nonetheless showed early in life a powerful ambition, a deep resilience, and a hunger for success. He brimmed with self-confidence and easily acquired the badges of adolescent achievement: Among other things, he was president of his high school class and a National Honor Society member. During his years at Georgetown University and later as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and at Yale Law School, Clinton never wavered from his determination to return to Arkansas and launch a political career, and he was successful from the start, becoming governor at 32. Walker shows Clinton's many ups and downs as governor; his slow evolution into a national political figure, the most attractive of the ""New Democrats"" offering fundamentally conservative approaches to domestic issues; his problematic 1992 presidential campaign; and the humiliations of his first years in office as his administration became mired in crises and his grand health-care initiative was defeated. Walker also portrays the skill with which Clinton has responded to the Republican challenge since the loss of Democratic congressional power in 1994, with Clinton achieving successes on both foreign and domestic policy fronts and throwing the Republicans on the defensive on many important issues. Clinton, Walker concludes, has demonstrated ""strong grounds to claim his right to reelection."" This thoughtful political biography shows that Clinton is a consummate politician and that opponents underestimate him at their peril.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996
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