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The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  10,090 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews
The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history's favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1 ...more
Hardcover, 641 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Simon Schuster
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Dirck Halstead
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First, this is a great book!

Secondly, I feel personally entitled to recommend it.

I covered the Presidency first for UPI, then Time Magazine from the Kennedy inaugural in 1960, through the end of the Clinton Presidency.
As a photographer I saw them up close, through the lens of my camera, traveled many thousand of miles with them around the world ten times over.

Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs are former colleagues and friends, who shared these experiences with me.

I can tell you that they are spot-on
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When Bill Clinton defeated George W.H. Bush after only one term in office, the elder man was completely devastated. To say that he disliked the young upstart is an understatement. So it may come as a surprise that, as the years passed, these two men became the closest of friends. In fact, H.W. once said he felt like the father Clinton had never had. Such was the respect and esteem, and yes, the love, between these two former Presidents - one a Democrat, the other a Republican; one who suffered a ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous overview of the interactions of previous and present Presidents beginning after WWII when Harry Truman asked Herbert Hoover for his assistance and Hoover willingly gave it. From that beginning, the interactions grew and all Presidents have participated, sometimes in surprising ways. Imagine Bill Clinton calling Richard Nixon for advice and, beyond that, for comfort.

One result of reading this book, for me, was a greater appreciation for the value and humanity of the Republican Presid
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed the book. The most important thing I learned: No matter how much you think you know about politics and what is happening, you have no idea.
This book was a great review of history, but it also was gossipy enough to give it another dimension.
I also think the authors stuck to the initial premise of the book. That is, it is about the complex relations between the presidents; it did not wander into other areas of history.
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sycophant. I've read a lot of autobiographical works by people who are quite proud of themselves, Jim Rogers, Ray Kroc and Sam Walton all come to mind. There's something nauseating about the author's infatuation with everyone who served as an American President, post WWII. The constant "but 'The Club' will save the day" refrain was used so frequently your eyes may not stop rolling.

One Amazon reviewer wrote that "If one is interested in Presidential history, this is a new and refreshing angle on
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a political junkie and when this book came to my attention, I just HAD to read it! This book is about one of the most exclusive clubs in the United States... the Presidents' Club. Authors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy did a spectacular job of researching this club made up of former presidents and the current president, of course. Starting at the Inauguration of President Eisenhower, Presidents Harry Truman and herbert Hoover formed the club. The book begins with the ups and downs of the Hoo ...more
Wow, what a great reading roll I've been on for the past couple of weeks. I enjoy politics and reading about life behind the scenes at The White House. But I had no idea when I picked this book up that it would move me to tears several times.

Beginning with the Hoover administration and following all the way through to Obama's first term, you will go behind the scenes and look at the struggles of the men who have sat behind the big desk in the Oval Office. You will see how they lean on and suppo
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is thoroughly researched and provides incredible (how in the world did the authors find this out?) and fascinating details -- all told as a highly readable story by two TIME writers. It covers the relationships current presidents have with their predecessors and how they help each other behind the scenes and in public.

You learn how much LBJ depended on Eisenhower as he conducted the war in Vietnam. (Eisenhower is described as practically his Chief of Staff.) You learn that Nixon wrote
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When President Truman needed someone to run the food program to feed the devastated starving Europeans in the aftermath of WWII he called on the hero of feeding the masses of starving Europeans following WWI. That man was a former President from a rival party who was vilified by Truman’s predecessor. Herbert Hoover was living in seclusion following his loss of the presidency. Franklin Roosevelt used the clever ploy of blaming the Great Depression on Hoover. Truman was a different kind of man as ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been sitting in my "to-read" pile for a while. I kept putting it off because I usually don't history books that tell a bunch of stories from a bunch of different times in history, and I assumed that's what this was. I also assumed I had already heard most of what would be in here. I was incorrect on both counts.

Here is a quick list of some of the fascinating stuff that I had never heard about
- How Jimmy Carter, though he drove them nuts and wasn't nice to them, was instrumental in
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inside look at the membership of the most elite club in America...our living ex-Presidents. Gibbs & Duffy reveal how our sitting and former Presidents from Hoover to Obama have needed, used, impeded or helped one another to deal with the stresses of the job, the adjustment to life after the power of the office has faded, the crises, and the gaps in their strengths and weaknesses. A thoroughly interesting book that reinforced other political works I’ve read recently while adding new ground. An ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
An inside look at the membership of the most elite club in America...our living ex-Presidents. Gibbs & Duffy reveal how our sitting and former Presidents from Hoover to Obama have needed, used, impeded or helped one another to deal with the stresses of the job, the adjustment to life after the power of the office has faded, the crises, and the gaps in their strengths and weaknesses. A thoroughly interesting book that reinforced other political works I’ve read recently while adding new ground. An ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book gives us a very unique inside account of the presidents' relationships with one another. I never realized how much they actually rely on one another for guidance even if they do battle politically. I love the layout, it's chronological and begins with Truman and Hoover, where "the club" was technically born and goes up to the present. So far I'm enjoying it and HIGHLY recommend it to those who love presidential history, it's a smooth and very interesting read so far and I'm only a chap ...more
Khairul Hezry
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
What touches me most while reading this book is how the former Presidents would assist the man occupying the office at the time regardless of their political leanings. Hoover the Republican helped Truman the Democrat just as Ike advised Kennedy and Clinton became Obama's envoy (okay, they're are on the same side politically but Clinton didn't like Obama taking away the Presidency from his wife Hillary).

It is touching to a Malaysian because I simply do not see that happening in this country. Mal
Aaron Million
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Gibbs and Duffy delve into the much-complicated relationships between and among current and former presidents, beginning with Hoover and Truman in the mid 1940s. This was a fun book to read - to see how all of the ex-presidents would typically put party politics behind to assist whoever happened to be in the office at that particular time.

I did see a few flaws: the authors mention that Truman was eligible to run for a third term in 1952 because he had only served part of Roosevelt's final term.
John Cooper
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A short history of the modern Presidency from Hoover to Obama, told entirely in stories about the interactions between presidents, ex-presidents, and future presidents. The stuff you'd expect is here—Ford's pardon of Nixon, former president Carter's rogue diplomacy in North Korea, the disaster relief team of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton—but there's a lot of hidden history, too: Nixon's deliberate interference in the Vietnamese peace talks of 1968, stalling any peace settlement until it cou ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I have always been fascinated by our Presidents,past and present.What makes someone want to assume that mantle of power and responsibility?And once there, do they wonder what the hell they are doing there?This book answers those questions and so much more. There are jaw dropping revelations that will rouse a variety of emotions in the reader, from anger and disgust, to empathy, wonder and respect.
The book is well researched and written is an approachable fashion. Each president has his day so
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was a great read. The best political book I've read since Game Change. I know those around me have been sick of hearing interesting Presidential trivia over the past few weeks. This book is all about the transfer of power and how those who have held the office of the President of the United States hold a unique position to help and understand the pressures, joys and frustrations that come with the job. It focuses on how these relationships have formed over the decades and how President ...more
Kressel Housman
This is a multi-generational history of the relationships between every U.S. president from Truman to Obama, and surprisingly, most of them, including former opponents, were quite friendly. George H.W. Bush is particularly close with Clinton, the man who unseated him, and Ford and Carter were also able to forge a partnership after a bitter campaign against each other, though it only happened after five years of silence. That’s not to say that all the relationships were friendly; Truman and Eisen ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about the history of American Presidents since Hoover. This book describes the interactions between presidents and ex-presidents, and sometimes ex-presidents with each other. This is not a part of history that is often discussed in textbooks or in documentaries. It allows the reader to see the human side of the presidents in a very real and unedited version. There is a contrast between this and the more conventional stories of the lives of presidents and their various achievements. ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it
The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy is a must read for all amateur presidential historians. For those who've had the luxury of reading a biography of each president since Hoover, it contains interesting reminders of each president’s interactions with fellow members of the club that are documented elsewhere.

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to study each president, the book is a sumptuous gathering of amuse bouches from which to choose your next object of study.

Michael Mallory
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The Presidents Club" is a fascinating history of 20th century America through the lens of the Oval Office, focusing on how sitting presidents call upon the expertise and knowledge of their predecessors...or don't. Since the "club" of ex-presidents really started with Truman, little of the first half of the century is covered. But authors Nancy Gibb and Michael Duffy go into great detail, with great insight, as to the workings of the White House thereafter, all the way up to the current presiden ...more
Oct 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-it
Phenomenal. I closed this, stood up, rushed to find the nearest fellow human, and declared: That was so good.

This book is a concept of genius - I can’t believe I haven’t read something like it sooner. Better yet, the execution surpasses those hefty expectations. Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy do a remarkable job injecting the reader into the intimacies of the Presidencies by telling the stories of the complex, conniving, convoluted, and compassionate relationships between their mantle holders. I
Jessica Berry
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow this was great. The length was a little daunting (the audio book was 22 hours!), but once I got started I really didn’t want to stop. If you have an interest in modern American history and a complete fascination with the presidency and Oval Office (like I do), this book will fly by. I wish there was a bit more on Obama (the presidency I have the strongest memories of), but you can tell that many of the revelations in this book come from a generous amount of time and perspective, so it just h ...more
Arthur O'dell
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I hate politics.

But I love history.

Which makes evaluating a work of political history difficult.

The book is certainly worth reading if you find the subject matter interesting. It is well-researched, copiously cited, reasonably even-handed, overly long, and, like a lot of journalist-turned-historian writing, works better in short bursts than as a sustained thesis.

Anyone not interested in politics or recent history will find it long, boring, and repetitive.

I found it interesting enough to fini
Edward Meshell
Mar 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing
INCREDIBLE READ! I loved reading how presidents have interacted with former presidents, specifically from Hoover to Obama. There were lots of stories of cooperation, error, faults, and friendships. I admire George HW Bush and Clinton’s friendship a lot more now. They kinda painted my guy Jimmy in a bad light, but it was understandable. However, overall this was a refreshing read about the presidency and how men who have held the office help to uphold the integrity of it when they are retired. Hi ...more
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
Presidential candidates often run on a platform of distancing themselves from the man in office, attacking his policies and actions, promising to do things differently, better. Or they deliberately align themselves with him, painting themselves as his natural successor, his protege, only to begin to edge themselves out from the long shadow cast once in office. But one thing, Gibbs and Duffy argue, is common to all of those who become President themselves - they find it a lonely, isolating positi ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-book-list
One of the best books I've read this year. If you're interested in history and leadership, this is a must-read.

Case in point. The book provides an excerpt from President Bush's diary the night he lost the election to President Clinton:
"I was absolutely convinced we would prove them wrong but I was wrong and they were right and that hurts a lot...Now to bed, prepared to face tomorrow: Be strong, be kind, be generous of spirit, be understanding and let people know how grateful you are. Don't get
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The President's Club is a little outside my normal Goodreads interests, and I'm already weary of politics in this election year, but after reading a compelling excerpt of this book in Time Magazine, I was hooked. I've always been fascinated by the inspiring post-presidency bipartisan friendship of Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. I've also always been cognizant that The President of the United States is arguably the hardest job in the world, which should be factored in before harsh criticism ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This a review of the audiobook.

The Pres­i­dents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclu­sive Fra­ter­nity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy is a non-fiction book about the rela­tion­ships ex-US Pres­i­dents have with the one which cur­rently holds office. I lis­tened to this book over a period of time while dri­ving to and from work.

The Pres­i­dents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclu­sive Fra­ter­nity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy is a book for polit­i­cal junkies and his­tory buffs. The book des
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Play Book Tag: The Presidents Club; 3 Stars 1 9 Jul 04, 2021 05:04AM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy 3 15 Nov 16, 2017 08:22AM  
U.S. History Read...: The President's Club 17 24 Jun 16, 2015 12:12PM  
Excellent read 3 17 Nov 24, 2013 10:57AM  
“Presidents typically land in office thinking they know better than their predecessors,” 1 14 Mar 15, 2013 11:04PM  
Excellent read 1 21 Apr 23, 2012 07:18PM  

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Nancy Gibbs is the author of nearly 100 TIME cover stories, including four "Person of the Year" essays and dozens of stories on the 1998 impeachment fight and the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns. She wrote TIME's September 11th memorial issue as well as weekly essays on the unfolding story and its impact on the nation. Ms. Gibbs's article "If You Want to Humble an Empire..." won the Luce Awar ...more

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