COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT by Clark Clifford

COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT

A Memoir

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Washington's most eminent lawyer, adviser, and confidant of Presidents offers a brilliant, entertaining, and generous (736- page) memoir of life at the pinnacle of power. Clifford began life as an attorney in Missouri, becoming during WW II the naval aide to President Truman. Quickly, he assumed a dominant role in the Truman White House and became Truman's principal adviser on domestic and foreign policy. Here, his admiration for Truman is obvious, and his many anecdotes about his plain-spoken chief are delightful. Moreover, Clifford became primary architect of many of Truman's most splendid accomplishmentshis triumphs over the steel and coal unions, the National Security Act, the desegregation of the Armed Forces, and Truman's magnificent 1948 electoral victory of Dewey. Soon after that victory, Clifford retired to become a private lawyer in Washington. He remained influential with many prominent people in government, however, and his narrative of Washington in the Fifties is fascinating. A self-proclaimed ``liberal activist,'' he later had a powerful impact on the policies of the Kennedy Administration. Similarly, he became personally involved with the formation of policy in the Johnson Administration. Despite early opposition to the Vietnam War, Clifford publicly supported the President's policies, eventually becoming LBJ's secretary of defense. His excruciating narrative of the Vietnam tragedy fills the reader with regret that LBJ did not follow Clifford's wise counsel. Finally, Clifford briefly reviews the achievements and shortcomings of Presidents in the post-Johnson era. His analysis of Richard Nixon's downfall and of the very dissimilar imperfections of Jimmy Carter's leadership are particularly illuminating. A splendidly writtenwith the help of Holbrooke, a managing director at Lehman Brothershighly engrossing narrative of postwar Washington, told by one of the last of America's Wise Men. (Sixteen pages of b&w photosnot seen.) (Book-of-the-Month Club Dual Selection for August)

Pub Date: May 31st, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-56995-4
Page count: 736pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991