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The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  227 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair, ...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Broadway Books (first published 2010)
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Mar 04, 2010 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished reading Joe Gormley's book, "The Death of American Virtue: Clinton Vs. Starr."

This book is surely the definitive account of the sad saga in U.S. history known as the Lewinsky scandal. Ken Gormley, a law professor, interviewed almost all the principle players in the drama (including some now deceased) -- President Clinton, Ken Starr and his wife, Lewinsky as well as both her parents, other prosecutors and judges, Linda Tripp, Susan McDougall, Webster Hubbell, Lew Merletti, he
Jan 04, 2012 Jerome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-recent
It's often been a goal of mine the past ten years to really read about what I call modern presidential events. Historically speaking, we could look back to many American presidents of the past and ring off their personal scandals or major events hitting them personally in their time in office. The Petticoat Affair with Andrew Jackson, the Credit Mobilier Scandal in Grant's term, The Teapot Dome Scandal, etc. And why is that fact? Because so much has been written on these particular events, over ...more
Kathleen Gilroy
Sep 12, 2010 Kathleen Gilroy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author being interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air and decided I had to read this book. Gormley has gone back and interviewed every living person who was involved in the Clinton vs. Starr matter, and he got candid answers from both Clinton and Starr. The story starts with the Whitewater real estate deal and moves through Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the impeachment. I learned many things that I didn't know or didn't recall -- that Whitewater matter was largely concluded by the ...more
Nannie Bittinger
Mar 16, 2011 Nannie Bittinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nannie by: Chautauqua book
Well researched, interesting and seemed to be fairly presented but in the end, I had to quit. It was ust making me sick to read about these political types trying to see what they can get away with and everything is someone else's fault. I felt like I should take a shower! YUCK! No reflection on the author's talent intended. I'm not sure if that era was 'the Death of American Virtue' (Did it ever exist?)but it is certainly when the news media started publishing the obituary!
Ryan Curell
More than a decade after its climax, the Clinton v. Starr episode in American history probably conjures up no more than a few spicy jokes to any more than a handful of people. World events and the troubled presidencies following Clinton's have made it easier to reflect on better times under his watch, and the legal imbroglios of both Clintons have been largely obscured by taboo actions between the forty-second president and an intern.

In completing this massive tome that strives for neutrality in
Jan 04, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is THE book on the Clinton scandal(s). It's as even-handed as one can be. Gormley thoroughly analyses all that went into the scandals of the Clinton years, how they were investigated, and how the President and his team responded to all of that. One really gets a sense of how good we had it in the 1990s: we could actually fight ruthlessly over what a guy did with his penis, all the while knowing that many of the people going after the guy with the uncontrollable penis could not control their ...more
Aaron Million
May 27, 2012 Aaron Million rated it it was amazing
Riveting book about the scandals that engulfed, and threatened to derail, the Clinton presidency. Gormley interviewed almost every major player involved in the Whitewater, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky scandals. Gormley does a superb job at deftly narrating and interweaving each of the sordid messes that resulted in a House impeachment of Clinton. Gormley steers clear of giving opinions, and does not take a side throughout this 690 page tome. He lets the facts speak for themselves - and gives ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good comprehensive account of Clintons legal problems. Show the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Starr was knowledgeable, but he was not wise. One of Mr. Gormley's other subjects, Archibald Cox, was both knowledgable and wise. I thought the title a little overwrought. I think it's interesting that no one treasure's their experience in this matter. Only regrets. The only hero I saw was the Arkansan who made the speech on the floor of the senate. He is the one who had the bet handle on the ...more
Mar 17, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written book by a law professor on the whole Paula Jones/Clinton/Lewinsky/Kenneth Starr business.
Very well written and very informative. The author doesn't seem to side with anyone in particular: he is very even-handed. I think his opinion is expressed in the title -- no one involved exhibited any admirable traits. After half paying attention to each turn in the story back when it occurred, it is interesting to have all the details in one coherent picture.
Mar 20, 2010 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathless. This book left me breathless; I was always in a rush to read the next page, the next chapter. No wonder nearly everyone spoke to the author, they could trust him to write an even-handed and balanced account. Wow, what an amazing read.
Jan 25, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I thought I had followed this episode closely at the time, most of what is revealed in this excellent book was new to me. It is a horrifying tale of a turning point in American history, when partisan politics became so toxic that the president was pursued into a closet in an effort to unseat him. Laws were repeatedly broken in the guise of upholding the law. One wonders why anyone would want to be a politician after witnessing this persecution. And one’s faith in the rule of law is utte ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Rachy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2013
I'm not sure everyone would be interested in reading nearly 700 pages (plus a 100 pages of footnotes) on the Clinton Scandal(s), but this is THE BOOK to learn about what really happened. All the major participants were interviewed from Ken Starr and Henry Hyde to Bill Clinton and Susan McDougal. No one comes across as a villain or a hero, because unlike what the media reported, the story is not that black and white. Even though many people think they already know everything there is to know, a l ...more
Aug 29, 2016 Devin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
An incredibly interesting and very _thorough_ telling of the scandals which plagued the Clinton administration (Whitewater, "troopergate", and primarily the Lewinsky affair). Gormley managed to secure interviews with nearly all of the people involved from every side of these events, and the research is presented with an eye towards objectivity.

As someone who was a teenager when the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal happened, reading this book as an adult provided an amazingly robust understanding of th
David Snashall
Sep 29, 2016 David Snashall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book about these dramatic events in recent history. The cast of "zany" characters involved, like Jim McDougall and his wife Susan, Linda Tripp, Bill Ginsberg, not to mention Monica, Bill & Hilary, make this saga into something of a soap opera. They were pitted against the zealots of the OIC overseen by the hapless Ken Starr, who allowed his staff to run his show. I hope someone has bought the rights to the story as it would make an excellent House of Cards style mini series.
Ken Gor
Aug 22, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was loathe to jump into this subject matter again, having lived through the media horror show when it happened; but the author, through exhaustive research, interviews with almost all the players (except Hillary), and fantastic writing made it not only palatable, but a riveting and completely addicting read. I learned a lot and got a much deeper perspective on that whole episode in our nation's history. My only caveat is that his descriptions at two points in the book of federal Judge Susan We ...more
Superfluous Man
Few writers could delve into a subject as fraught as l’affaire Lewinsky with Mr. Gormley’s grace, fair-mindedness, erudition, and patriotic shame, let alone any law professors. The book’s jacket puts it succinctly: “Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton.” My review is available here.
Apr 01, 2010 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The moral of this story, from my reading, is that you should be honest when consulting with your lawyer. If either Ms. Lewinsky or Mr. Clinton had been honest with their respective attorneys, their attorneys would have kept them out of the legal trouble that ultimately occured. If Clinton's attorney knew of the relationship he wouldn't have permitted Clinton to make misleading statements at the deposition. Likewise Lewinsky's attorney wouldn't have let her sign the affidavit denying a sexual rel ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
This book went back to the library unfinished along with Susan Schmidt's Truth at Any Cost, which I didn't even start. Gormley's book appears from the 100 or so pages I read to be scrupulously balanced but it was too painful to read about the sleaze and grime of the second Clinton administration. I had to live through it and once is enough.

I didn't give it any stars because I didn't read enough of it to really judge and it would be unfair to give it only one star because I didn't like the subjec
Barb Moore
Dec 04, 2011 Barb Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This engaging, in-depth examination of the Whitewater investigation and ensuing impeachment is almost impossible to put town--over 700 pages, and we all know how it comes out, but it is a real page-turner! The people involved pop to life in the text, with close descriptions of their actions and motivations at the time, and with reflective statements from interviews long after the events. The intransigence of the opposing parties may not have been born here, but certainly came of age during these ...more
Marti Garlett
Jan 25, 2013 Marti Garlett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a first-rate legal thriller, and though nonfiction, it reads like a novel whose plot you think you don't know, yet of course you do. It is a balanced, thoroughly researched book that leaves the conclusions about which are the heroes up to its readers. My opinion: nobody in this sorry saga, this national nightmare, is a hero. bad decisions, poor judgment all the way around. It truly describes the loss of American virtue with all players pretty sure of their righteousness a decade hence. I ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Jared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most striking thing about this book is how well it reads. While I read a bunch of history books, I hardly ever say to myself, "I could not put it down." Here, however, I am glad to say that I could not put this book down. The subject matter is very interesting and the writing is just first-rate. This is history at its best--extremely well written, balanced and well-reasoned, and completely leaves no stone unturned. This is a must read for anyone who might be interested in the Clinton Wars of ...more
Nov 25, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A surprising page-turner! Who knew you could plow through a 690 page book about the many trials and tribulations of the Clinton dynasty. A very objective, informative, and fascinating read that I highly recommend. That guy Gormley can write.
(I also learned quite a bit about Ken Starr, who I still think is a misguided Puritan - not a good trait for a lawyer, especially the one who becomes the Independent Council prosecuting Bill Clinton. What a train wreck.)
Washington Post
Gormley's signal contribution is his heroic evenhandedness. "The Death of American Virtue" is a restrained, fair-minded, soup-to-nuts history of the largely fruitless investigations of Bill Clinton that shadowed so much of his presidency. All but the most unregenerate partisans should deem this book fair. The book made our top 10 list for 2010.

Read David Greenberg's rave review here:
Mark Ehlers
Dec 10, 2012 Mark Ehlers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book. This is the most authoritative account yet of the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations. The author had access to virtually all of the key sources (Clinton, Starr, Lewinsky, the OIC prosecutors, Clinton's lawyers, Susan McDougal, etc.) and the book is hard to put down. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the culture of division and hatred that is Washington today.
Brian Sandor
Apr 01, 2013 Brian Sandor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
A fantastic book on a sordid subject. Extremely detailed and extremely readable. It deals with the entire Clinton scandals that lead up to the impeachment: Whitewater, Paula Jones v. Clinton, Monica and the Starr investigation. It is very balanced and addresses all sides affected through tons of interviews with most of the principals involved. It is the definitive book on the matter.
Peter Lindstrom
Apr 29, 2015 Peter Lindstrom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, Gromley has bombshell revelations (mostly about Ken Starr personally & his office's conduct during the investigation) along with new information, the book also can be a slog though a period many of us would like to forget but it is worth reading if only to prevent another such circus that does nothing to improve our nation & much to create district & discord.
Aug 08, 2011 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An exhaustive look at the Whitewater and impeachment cycle. Well researched yet not overly dry in its style. A depressing look at a contributing factor in the rise of partisanship in Congress that overrode desires for comity amongst a few of the level-headed members serving at the time.
Aug 23, 2012 Drtaxsacto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book about Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr. It is well researched and puts neither in very good light. But it goes through in great detail about how these two figures interacted during the Clinton probes.
Mar 09, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating look at the long face-off between Bill Clinton and Ken Starr. This reads like a novel and you will look at all the protagonists in a different way after reading this. An impartial look at a turbulent time in US history.
Apr 25, 2010 Austin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read. Having lived through that history, it was really interesting to read it from a different perspective in my life: As a prosecutor, it was really intriguing to see how my "colleagues" handled things.
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