The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton

The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton

3.5 15
by Joe Klein

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ISBN-10: 0767914120

ISBN-13: 9780767914123

Pub. Date: 02/11/2003

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Joe Klein, best-selling author of Primary Colors and one of our most brilliant political analysts, now tackles the subject he knows best: Bill Clinton. Astute, even-handed, and keenly intelligent, The Natural is the only book to read if you want to understand exactly what happened–to the military, to the economy, to the American


Joe Klein, best-selling author of Primary Colors and one of our most brilliant political analysts, now tackles the subject he knows best: Bill Clinton. Astute, even-handed, and keenly intelligent, The Natural is the only book to read if you want to understand exactly what happened–to the military, to the economy, to the American people, to the country–during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and how the decisions made during his tenure affect all of us today.

Much has been written about Clinton, but The Natural is the first work to cut through the gossip, scandals, media hype, and emotional turbulence that Clinton always engendered, to step back and rationally analyze the eight years of his tenure, a period during which America rose to unprecedented levels of prosperity. Joe Klein puts that record into perspective, showing us what worked and what didn’t, exactly what was accomplished and why, and who was responsible for the successes and the failures.

We see how the Clinton White House functioned on the inside, how it dealt with the maneuvers of Congress and the Gingrich revolution, and who held power and made the decisions during the endless crises that beset the administration. Klein’s access to the White House over the years as a journalist gave him a prime spot from which to view every crucial event–both political and personal–and he sets them forth in an insightful, readable, and completely engrossing manner.

The Natural is stern in its criticism and convincing with its praise. It will cause endless debate amongst friends and foes of the Clinton administration. It is a book that anyone interested in contemporary politics, in American history, or in the functioning of our democracy, should read.

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Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The presidency of Bill Clinton was outwardly a very successful one. When he took office there were record budget deficits and when he left a substantial surplus. While there were rumblings of conflict on the horizon, the United States was largely at peace and had helped impose peace and relative tranquility on other regions of the world. However, there was also the intense political rancor in the country, although it was largely confined to Washington. And there was Monica, the single defining moment that turned what could have been a great presidency into an ordinary one. Had the incredible political skills that Clinton demonstrated in surviving the impeachment been channeled into wise and progressive governance, the nation would have been far better off. Klein captures these events from the point of an outsider with a very accurate looking glass into the inside of the Clinton political operations. He takes an honest and reality based look at Clinton, his presidency and the political world that he operated in. Klein¿s other thinly disguised book ¿Primary Colors¿ about the Clinton campaign for president meant that Clinton was somewhat hostile to Klein. Quite frankly, that probably made it better as it led to Clinton making little effort to charm Klein. One can only hope that Bill Clinton will go down in history as a president who did make significant and positive changes and not just a man who left a stain on a dress. This book does a great deal to help that legacy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Klein's book is an enjoyable and entertaining read, however, he does not provide much new information. Most of the topics presented in the book have been covered before. The book is worth reading but don't look for a lot of new information.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good essays on the presidency in general and behind the scenes looks at a man who was far more complex than most presidents are. Clinton had the unfortunate ability to see three sides of a two sided argument. He did however, manage to contain Iraq for 8 years, keep the economy moving and reduce the federal deficit. The scandals mentioned in the book give me the sense that Clinton could have been right about them being right wing conspiracies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Looking through some other reviews here, I wonder if some actually read the book (it looks like they used the review section as a political forum, rather than discussing the points of the book). Honestly, if you are interested in extremist Clinton bashing, this book isn¿t for you (see the Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity section if that's what floats your boat). However, if you are interested in a reasonable accounting of Clinton's successes and failures, as well as his determination and fortitude against overwhelming odds, then give this one a try.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As was pointed out in an earlier review, some of the previous reviews of this book were not reviews of the book, but some people's continued hatred of Clinton the man. As a conservative who spent 8 years disliking, but not hating, Bill Clinton, I have to admit I enjoyed this book. Maybe it was the fact I got a deeper read into the true life tale of how a man can single handedly destroy all he had going for himself with extreme hubris, but the book was a good read. While not an unbiased book (the book's subtitle is The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, which should clue one into which side of the spectrum the final analysis will fall), I came to the conclusion that the book is a decently fair portrayl, with some cheerleading thrown in. I would recommend this to lefties looking to learn more about Clinton's reign as top Democrat, and to righties who are looking to see a bit deeper into what exactly was going on in the white house for those years. No political book is completely unbiased, so to think this one will be is a rather dumb approach to "The Natural," so whether you like Clinton or not, Klein has written an informative book on the Clinton presidency.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a registered Libertarian and am conservative in most respects, but even so, I believed Clinton was unfairly targeted throughout his presidency by the "old school" political network. So, in hoping to find clarification & background on some of the issues that defined Clinton's term in office, I picked up this book. I was pleased to find it was a fair, balanced, and straight-forward accounting of Clinton the President AND Clinton the man. What I took away from it was this: Clinton was a hard-working, dedicated representative of the American public, but may never be recognized as such due to his failure to repress his all-too-human faults while serving that same public. Some of our past Presidents committed the same errors in judgment & personal ethics, the difference being they declined to comment whenever questioned. In the past, the press rarely if ever questioned the Prez on personal matters, even when affairs and such were widely known. Prior to Clinton, the press believed personal issues were off-limits and so didn't report them out of respect for the office and concern about the world's opinion of the American leadership. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a full & balanced review of the Clinton presidency, especially as a reminder of all that Clinton DID accomplish during his tenure. If Clinton had been able to avoid the scandals, he quite possibly would have gone down in history as one of the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a paean to a prodigiously gifted but hopelessly profligate man, whose appointments were variously troubling and, on balance, counterproductive to the nation's future, and whose willful election to manipulate those around him -- friends as well as foes -- and to cravenly impress his hapless Justice Department into a shameful and ugly prostitution of the laws of the land, will ultimately resonate negatively throughout the institutions of our country for a generation, or even more. A regrettable book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I expected something better than what klein delivers here. nothing new, too much sniping and not enough substance on the clinton record.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Without injecting my opinion of the merit of this book, I'll give you a hint as to whether or not you'll like it. Read some of these reviews. You'll quickly see where people stood as far as their opinion on Clinton before they read it. You'll also see that their opinion of the man is also directly tied to their opinion of this book. The comments from those who are fans of Bill generaly reiterate that they think he's great. Poeople who didn't like the book complain about it not being even handed. No where will you see the claim that it IS unbiased and even handed. Food for thought.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally a book that honestly addresses the Clinton presidency. A great read on a great President.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The republicans will never agree anything praise about Clinton, they even go as far as saying Clinton inherite a strong economy... people may be short memory, but not as short as that! The Bush year lead to enormous economy down turn, waging a war to Iraq didn't root out the enemy, and left behind a serious threat to the country, Clinton inherite a badly manage White house and bring everything back together under huge friction from partisan politics, which willing to do all the dirtiest tricks on earth just to cripple his presidency. Clinton's administration defy all these and even have accomplishments, that's why Clinton is so impressive. The more bad things republicans do to him, the better he get. So, get use to it. Clinton will keep pop up very often in the future as a reference of what an efficient President should be like. GW Bush is less than a capable manager, he can't lead because he can't speak, he can't even make a point effectively without the need of other people help to explain what he really means. Frankly, just forget this 4 years of Bush, we should move on right now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for an even-handed review of the good and the bad of the Clinton Presidency, but I will have to look elsewhere than this book. Klein levels criticisms at the obvious Clinton shortcomings but too often comes across as a Clinton cheerleader rather than a historian. If you want good, historical review of a president read Doris Kearns Goodwin or David McCullough. I would recommend this book for people who were (and remain) big fans of Bill Clinton. As a democrat I initially embraced Clinton but could not look past the harm he caused to the Office of the President. Klein seems to me too willing to excuse the serious damage Clinton caused to the republic through the scandals and the greater politicization of the country. Instead of bringing people together as the centrist candidate Clinton claimed to be, his actions and the ensuing scandals divided the country forcing Clinton to take refuge with the extremists liberals in our party, and giving fodder to the extremists on the republican side. We might have to wait twenty years for a more balanced review of Clinton, after emotions have subsided somewhat. All I know is that this book reads more like campaign literature than serious historical study.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a shock, one of Clinton's biggest fans writing a book to defend his 'legacy'. Pure hogwash, front to back. Clinton inherited a perfect situation with a strong, growing economy and did nothing to help anything. The current recession follows from his policies, he left the mideast in worse shape than it was when he started, he tore up the US military, etc. History will judge him appropriately, no matter how much historical revising liberals perform. Bill Clinton was one of the worst presidents in our history. Oh, and by the way, Gore did lose the last election and he was the one trying to fudge the results in Florida. Get used to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fast read on the presidency of Bill Clinton, and very well done. Klein points out the good and bad of Bill Clinton, but concludes that Clinton was good for America, unlike 'The Pretender' in the White House that we have now. After all, Al Gore was the true winner of the 2000 election.