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3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  498 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
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 keenlyintelligent, "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 thecountry-during Bill Clint ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 23rd 2002 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2002)
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When this book came out in 2003, Joe Klein (aka "anonymous" when it came to his better-known oeuvre, Primary Colors ) had the benefit of hindsight re. the Clinton presidency. However, if Klein's 2003 hindsight was 20/20, then sitting here in 2014 I felt like I had the visual acuity of a hawk that's been bred with an produce some kind of eagle-eyed superhawk (thanks Agent Hawley!).

Part of what I found so impressive about Peter Baker's Days of Fire when it came to the Bush 43 pr
Jul 14, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Klein's retrospective look at the Clinton administration (published in 2002) borrows the title of Bernard Malamud's novel, The Natural, about a gifted baseball player, so let's stay with the baseball metaphor a moment.

By Klein's account, Bill Clinton played "small ball," which is to say he hit singles, stole bases, hit more singles, finally scored, and then did it over again as he outlasted barrages of homers from more powerful adversaries.

This is a fine, close-in study. It is well-written a
Gary Schantz
I enjoyed in so much as it covered Clinton's time in the White House. I found the stories interesting and informative.

But that where it stop being an enjoyable read was when the author seemed to be trying to hard to prove the he knew every word in the English language and went way out of his way to make that point.

In any book I have read there are always a few words I have to look up because I am not sure what the author is actually try to say or I simply do not know the word. However in this bo
Nov 23, 2014 J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Natural was penned by Joe Klein in 2002, so it is a bit dated and does not enjoy the advantage of time's passage to smooth out the attendant historical ruffles tied to Clinton's performance as president.

While I don't think Joe Klein took liberties in marshaling the facts to explain President Clinton's motivations, I do sense that he has a grudging, disappointed admiration of a man whom he describes as a characterization of the boomer generation. Klein's conclusions really gained traction - a
Moira Russell
I actually remember reading Primary Colours when it first came out anonymously, and the big flap about figuring out who the author was, &c &c. I didn't realize Klein was this....conservative.
Brian Willis
Sep 26, 2015 Brian Willis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this incisive and revelatory book, Joe Klein takes us inside the Clinton White House and exposes the reason for Clinton's flaws and reexamines some of the hidden successes of his Presidency. Rather than rehash the typical line on Clinton, Klein is honest about the flaws and the reasoning for those flaws psychologically as well as being honest about what made this Presidency tick. Ultimately, history will most likely judge Clinton as a more or less successful presidency because of the vast exp ...more
Maxo Marc
I'm not gay but I love some Bill Clinton.
S Jordan
Aug 13, 2014 S Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most political biographies can be classified as written by unloving critics or by uncritical lovers. Joe Klein has found the middle ground. His assessment of the Clinton presidency is unsparing in its criticism but also appreciative of the virtues and victories. Klein provides context for both the successes and the failures. Not a comprehensive history of the Clinton years, the book is an easy to read – and rather brief – summary of an administration marked by controversy, disappointment and ove ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Jsavett1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for any interested in what exactly GOT done, policy wise, and what DIDN'T during Clinton's cacophonous presidency. Moreover, Klein provides explanations as to WHY these successes and failures took place. The book's description on, says that first attempt history accounts aren't usually as well done as this one is. I can't speak to the historical validity of that statement but i can certainly vouch for its qualitative assurance; I really have to say---and this is fr ...more
Faith Justice
Sep 09, 2010 Faith Justice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-away
From the book jacket:

"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 succ
it was informative/fun to re-visit the Clinton presidency years with a bit of historical perspective and time since 2000

This was a short, well written and engaging retrospective of the perceived Clinton successes (his Third Way of triangulation, Bosnian intervention and peace brokering, earned income tax credits, balanced budgets, reduced crime, welfare reform) and failures (Somalia, Haiti, impeachment, government shut down, constant partisanship (admittedly not entirely his fault), health care,
Charles Matthews
This review appeared in the San Jose Mercury News in 2002:

More than one person has told me of their encounters with Bill Clinton: the sense of some enormous presence arriving in the room, like a sudden change in the weather. To some degree, perhaps, the aura was cast by the office, though few report being similarly galvanized by the presence of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter. It's no wonder Clinton was so adored by Hollywood: He had unsurpassed star power, and it enabled him to surv
Aug 24, 2007 Punk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Non-fiction. Bill Clinton's rise and fall. This is as much a love story as it is a Dear John letter, Joe Klein vacillating between moony and bitter like a high school ex-boyfriend. It's uncomfortable, but even worse, it's uneven and rushed. Klein takes a lot for granted. To start with, he never introduces himself, which is a problem because the book is as much about Klein as it is Clinton. Even more annoying, Klein never identifies in what capacity he spent all this time with Clinton, nor where ...more
Frederick Bingham
A political reporter's discussion of the presidency of Bill Clinton. He takes us through the election campaign, Gennifer Flowers, gays in the military, the 1993 budget agreement, the 1994 election debacle,the Oklahoma City bombing, the government shutdown by Newt Gingrich, the 1996 campaign, Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr and impeachment, Gingrich's downfall in 1998 and the runup to the '2000 campaign and Al Gore. The author discusses Clinton's personality and policy accomplishments. The book seems ...more
Chris Burd
A really interesting look into the presidency and personality of President Bill Clinton. A seemingly balanced view - certainly not entirely positive. However, having been published in 2002 originally, this book is incredibly dated. Interesting, but incomplete.
Oct 30, 2014 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Jeff
A Jeff-lent audio book. 2.5 stars. Some was interesting, but the book contained more politics than I like. This is not a complaint since that's what the book is supposed to contain. Seemed disjointed somehow; back and forth in time too much, maybe?
Monte Lamb
Apr 17, 2011 Monte Lamb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-politics
This book gives the good and bad on Bill Clinton, his presidency, and his legacy. In so many ways Clinton was an enigma, but he did get so many things done politically inspite of all the nonsense that he created personally. What the man was, was a most astute politican who through perseverance accomplished many things, often incrementally and under the radar. I thought the author did a good job on a sidebar of Newt Gingrich and how he grew to lead the GOP and then self-destructed. Joe Klein is a ...more
Mar 18, 2007 Ainsley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Another Dean's Book choice. Klein is absurdly self-righteous. I found it difficult to take him seriously, since he seems to view the entire Clinton presidency through the lens of his failure to live up to the expectations of the New Democrats, of which Klein is one. He does have some interesting insight into Clinton's personality and charisma, so that was something.

Also, he loses points with me because he was such a gigantic tool when I met him.
Jul 01, 2007 Erica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was redundant- we all know these things about Bill's presidency; he didn't let us in on any big secret to his genius, didn't tell us anything new or nuanced about decisions. But it's Bill- and it's always nice to see how his subtlety and intelligence graced the office; as opposed to what we have now.....
May 19, 2011 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
This book is a good introduction to Bill Clinton's "Third Way" in American politics. Klein's excessively partisan in his assessments of other politicians around Clinton (Newt Gingrich, for example), but his retelling of the story of Clinton's presidency is helpful.
Sean Morrison
When I read this book, I was disappointed to learn that this wasn't the book-adaptation of the Robert Redford film about baseball. It did, however, show how Hillary was the cause of all the political blunders that occurred during Bill's presidency.
Dec 31, 2012 Leon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick overview of clinton as a person and his administration. fairly unbiased, as it recognizes his faults, but appreciates his strengths. easy to read, because its written with anecdotes, and doesn't go too in depth into the issues.
Jul 14, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political junkies
A must read for political junkies. This is absolutely the follow-up to Primary Colors even though Joe Klein claimed it to be fiction. This profile of Clinton certainly is not.
Jul 20, 2008 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Nice and short little reflection on Clinton's presidency. Highlights all that he got done by playing the small game extremely well, even though he won't be remembered for it.
Nov 19, 2007 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
An interesting book, however, it did not add significantly to a better understanding of Bill Clinton. Mr. Klein essentially re-told a number of old Clinton stories.
Jim Twombly
Sep 09, 2013 Jim Twombly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit dated now, but good insights into a complex politician. One also wonders about Klein as well, since he can't seem to make up his mind about Clinton.
Mar 20, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Mark
Joe Klein can be pretty full of himself, but luckily in this case he gave himself few enough pages that he had to devote almost all of them to his subject.
Former boss recomeneded this one too - want to read the actual biography but that will be a cumbersome endeavor so am holding off - do think he is fascinating
Nov 05, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read and there was some interesting insight by Klein. However, I was left wanting more. This book seemed to barely scratch the surface.
Melinda Southwell
Sep 02, 2011 Melinda Southwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't think I was going to enjoy this book at all, but I was very much surprised that it actuality I had a hard time putting the book down.
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Joe Klein is a longtime Washington, D.C. and New York journalist and columnist, known for his novel Primary Colors, an anonymously written roman à clef portraying Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. Klein is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a former Guggenheim Fellow. Since 2003 he has been a contributor at the current affairs Time news group. In April 2006, he ...more
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