The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation

The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation

3.9 14
by Steven M. Gillon
     
 

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Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes--"the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue." But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact, these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997, a pact that would have rocked the political landscape, had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal. A fascinating

Overview

Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes--"the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue." But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact, these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997, a pact that would have rocked the political landscape, had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal. A fascinating look at politics American-style, The Pact offers a riveting account of two of America's most charismatic and influential leaders, detailing both their differences and their striking similarities, and highlighting the profound and lasting impact the tumultuous 1960s had on both their personal and political lives. With the cooperation of both President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich, interviews with key players who have never before spoken about their experiences, along with unprecedented access to Gingrich's private papers, Gillon not only offers a behind-the-scenes look at the budget impasse and the government shutdown in 1995--the famous face-off between Clinton and Gingrich--but he also reveals how the two moved closer together after 1996--closer than anyone knew. In particular, the book illuminates their secret efforts to abandon the liberal and conservative wings of their own parties and strike a bi-partisan deal to reform the "third rail of American politics"--Social Security and Medicare. That potentially groundbreaking effort was swept away by the highly charged reaction to the Lewinsky affair, ending an initiative that might have transformed millions of American lives. Packed with compelling new revelations about two of the most powerful and intriguing figures of our time, this book will be must reading for everyone interested in politics or current events.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

An unlikely, fleeting and largely unknown alliance between the former president and speaker of the House occupies center-stage of this thoughtful book that recreates the tumultuous years of the Clinton administration. Gillon (10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America) provides compelling evidence suggesting that political foes Clinton and Gingrich formed a secret alliance in 1997 and were prepared to forge a bipartisan compromise on Social Security and Medicare, a plan that was derailed when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. In slightly shapeless early chapters, Gillon surveys the parallels and divergences in the early lives and careers of both men, casting his two protagonists as mirror images of each other: deeply intelligent children of the 1960s greatly affected by the politics of the decade, they became passionate, charismatic leaders who succumbed to personal weaknesses and saw their brilliant careers overshadowed by ignominy. Though Gillon slightly overreaches in framing his story as an epilogue to the culture wars of the '60s, he nevertheless renders a fraught moment in American political history with clarity. (June)

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Library Journal

It's difficult to imagine how President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich could find themselves in a symbiotic relationship that ended with both their political careers in shambles. Gillon (history, Univ. of Oklahoma; The American Experiment: A History of the United States) explains that, despite their ideological differences, they shared a personal chemistry based in no small measure on their common formative experiences, from difficult childhoods to political maturation in the turbulent Sixties. Drawing on interviews with the two principals and with key aides, as well as Gingrich's personal papers, Gillon sheds more light on the political instincts of both men than any other book heretofore. Surely what will be most discussed is the revelation that Clinton and Gingrich were working on an agreement to bring Social Security and Medicare to solvency, perhaps forever. Both hoped to leave more than a legacy of bitter partisan division in Washington; each was willing to accept the political heat for an agreement that would improve Social Security's capabilities while adding some privatization to the system. But with the news of Clinton's sexual improprieties, the deal fell through; later, under investigation himself, Gingrich resigned as Speaker. Sadly, the greatest legacy of the Lewinsky scandal may have been the lost opportunity to resolve the financial solvency of Social Security and Medicare. An excellent book; essential for both public and academic libraries.
—Thomas J. Baldino

From the Publisher
"A page-turner" —US News & World Report

"Does a masterly job of recreating the diplomacy aimed at bringing the titans together...Unlike chroniclers of recent history who laboriously recount what most of us remember, Mr. Gillon has real news to tell." —The Wall Street Journal "Renders a fraught moment in American political history with clarity."

—Publishers Weekly

"Gillon sheds more light on the political instincts of both men than any other book yet written about either.... this excellent book should be an essential acqisition for all libraries." —Library Journal

"Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich were two of the most interesting, gifted and complicated figures ever to grace American politics. Steve Gillon, a thoughtful historian with exceptional political savvy, has turned his ample gifts to capturing the politics of the Clinton-Gingrich moment. He sheds new light on their relationship, and explains not only where they came from but also where their confrontation led us. This is an important book about a fascinating episode." —E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Souled Out and Why Americans Hate Politics

"Steven Gillon, using a wide range of inside sources, tells a great and absorbing story: how Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, who had fought for years over the meaning of the 1960s, schemed in 1997 to form a centrist political coalition, only to fail amidst the nasty partisan wrangling that led to the impeachment of the president." —James T.Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore

The Pact has an excellent premise and is executed masterfully. Steve Gillon deftly tells the story of this odd couple from the 1990s, showing the surprising similarities between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, and how they differed. In the process, Gillon insightfully and entertainingly helps us understand the 1990s, the 1960s and the entire Baby Boom generation—and epoch."— Gil Troy, author of Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199886579
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/03/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
433,988
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Steven M. Gillon is the Resident Historian of the History Channel and Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the host of the network's flagship public affairs program, HistoryCenter, as well as Our Generation. He is an award-winning teacher and the author of a number of critically acclaimed books about modern American politics and culture.

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The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love what I read so far. How very facinating! I'm buying it. Can't wait to read the rest!
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An interesting account of what could have been and their ideals before politics became all consumong
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husband loved it, says it was very interesting. must check it out
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