Okay, first, I have to confess I listened to the abridged audio edition of this book, and that's what I'm basing my review on. I listened to the whole thing on the drive from my home to seminary (6 hours).
That having been said, I am coming to understand that way more of "The West Wing" was based on actual events than I realized. I feel like I just experienced the entire series - the book even ends with the same word on which the series concluded: "Tomorrow."
Not having been politically aware until the 2000 election cycle, I pretty much had no idea what went on during the Clinton years, except for a few BJs. But hearing Bill Clinton (he reads the audiobook) talk about the accomplishments of his two terms was at once inspiring and devastating. Inspiring, because it seems like his administration was the kind I've wanted to see these past eight years. Devastating, because we're living through almost the complete opposite conditions.
I'm not saying I took every word as the gospel truth; I'm sure Clinton remembers things differently than they actually occurred (who among us doesn't?). But the results of his time in office - 20 million new jobs, a projected 4-trillion-dollar surplus - are not things that rely on shaky memories.
I also appreciated his (ostensibly) honest treatment of the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal, and hearing his side of the Whitewater nonsense (which I really believe it was). Almost everyone laughed at the "vast, right-wing conspiracy", but it's hard not to lend the idea some credence, in light of the conflicts of interest and savagely hurtful political game being played.
More than any of that, the book was a fascinating view of the inner workings of the Clinton White House - biased as it may have been - and the triumphs and failures that came during the eight years he spent there. Anyone who enjoys "The West Wing" will appreciate the excitement, intrigue and emotion of Clinton's tale.