First In His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton

First In His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton

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by David Maraniss
     
 

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Who exactly is Bill Clinton, and why was he, of all the brilliant and ambitious men in his generation, the first in his class to reach the White House? Drawing on hundreds of letters, documents, and interviews, David Maraniss explores the evolution of the personality of our forty-second president from his youth in Arkansas to his 1991 announcement that he would

Overview

Who exactly is Bill Clinton, and why was he, of all the brilliant and ambitious men in his generation, the first in his class to reach the White House? Drawing on hundreds of letters, documents, and interviews, David Maraniss explores the evolution of the personality of our forty-second president from his youth in Arkansas to his 1991 announcement that he would run for the nation's highest office. In this richly textured and balanced biography, Maraniss reveals a complex man full of great flaws and great talents. First in His Class is the definitive book on Bill Clinton.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this incisive, richly textured, fair-minded biography of Bill Clinton, which ends on the night he announced his presidential candidacy, Washington Post reporter Maraniss limns a quintessential politician, "sincere and deceptive at the same time.'' Drawing on interviews with nearly 400 people, including Clinton's closest friends, colleagues and relatives, Maraniss taps two sides of Clinton-one intelligent, empathetic, indefatigable, another petulant, tantrum-prone, indecisive, misleading, too eager to please-and declares that these components of the man are inseparable. There are revealing glimpses of Clinton the semi-bohemian Oxford antiwar activist; the casual, disorganized University of Arkansas law professor; and the Arkansas governor soliciting large contributions from corporate leaders for the public relations arm of his permanent political campaign. Maraniss, whose articles on Clinton's presidential candidacy won a Pulitzer Prize, also illuminates Clinton's pragmatic partnership with Hillary Rodham and their dependence on each other during their long haul from Arkansas to the White House.
Library Journal
Clinton books have been as ubiquitous as photos of the president in jogging shorts and ill-fitting suits. Maraniss's biography similarly suffers more from overexposure than content. Most of the book examines Clinton's educational roots-from high school, where he graduated fourth, not first, in his class through Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale universities. Washington Post reporter Maraniss is at his best portraying Clinton as a product of the 1960s, when his life experiences and views were tempered by liberalism. He was tormented, as were so many of his peers, by the possibility of being drafted to serve in Vietnam; his actions were buffeted by wanting to avoid service without becoming involved in protests that could haunt his political career. This sympathetic portrait concludes with Clinton's decision to seek the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. Maraniss's book complements John Brummett's Highwire (LJ 9/15/94), which also sees Clinton as a product of either his educational or geographical roots. The large number of existing Clinton titles and his declining popularity may make this book a tough sell. For public libraries.
-- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, PA
Thomas Gaughan
Maybe it's the logical progression of news media excess or the fact that self-absorbed baby boomers now run that media. Whatever the reason, the character of the first boomer president has received more scrutiny and instant analysis than any figure in history. Now Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maraniss offers a heavily documented (nearly 400 interviews), unauthorized biography that ends with Clinton's announcement for the presidency. Maraniss writes, "My goal was for this book to be neither pathography nor hagiography, but a fair-minded examination of a complicated human being and the forces that shaped him and his generation." He has achieved his goal. His portrait shows Clinton to be, like most public figures, a welter of coexisting contradictions -- "considerate and calculating, easygoing and ambitious, mediator and predator." Maraniss writes that his research caused him to like Clinton even when he disliked him and to dislike him even when he liked him. All in all, First in His Class is solid journalism that thoughtfully evokes the tumultuous times -- desegregation, assassinations, Vietnam -- that shaped Clinton. Maraniss, of course, is also a boomer, but his scrutiny is more balanced and thoughtful than most.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439128350
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/30/2008
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
552,871
File size:
5 MB

What People are saying about this

Robert A. Caro
David Maraniss has written a compelling, vivid portrait of a very complex man. First in His Class is, moreover, a work of great integrity, notable for the scrupulousness of its documentations, which shines forth from every page.
— Robert A. Caro, author of Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Meet the Author


David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and has been a Pulitzer finalist two other times for his journalism and again for They Marched Into Sunlight, a book about Vietnam and the sixties. The author also of bestselling works on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, and Roberto Clemente, Maraniss is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He and his wife, Linda, live in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin. Visit the author at davidmaraniss.com.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin
Date of Birth:
August 6, 1949
Place of Birth:
Detroit, Michigan
Education:
University of Wisconsin

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First In His Class: A Biography Of Bill Clinton 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was touched by this book because it offered an in-deepth look at the trauma of being an orphan followed by the abuses of alcoholism. Furthermore, it offers a look at the drug abuse problems of his brother. I beleive this book sends the message that prominent families can be affected by trauma and drug abuse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was one of the best, most inspiring, and most detailed biographies i have ever read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A gripping read is hard to come by, especially if your tendency as a writer is more journalistic than literary. For any author to attempt a political biography is a gusty move. David Maraniss does the job well. His rich and detailed 500 page plunge intothe mind and political style of William Jefferson Clinton provides us with wonderful insight into the making of a brilliant, albiet contraversial, Commander in Chief. In fact, I think Bill should read it himself!!