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A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  811 ratings  ·  66 reviews
In A Vast Conspiracy, the best-selling author of The Run of His Life casts an insightful, unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time -- the Clinton sex scandals.  A superlative journalist known for the skillfulness of his investigating and the power of his writing, Jeffrey Toobin tells the unlikely story of the events that began over doughnuts in a Li ...more
Kindle Edition, 450 pages
Published November 14th 2012 by Random House (first published January 11th 2000)
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Start your review of A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President
Lois
This was interesting and well written in many ways. It is definitely biased. Also unbelievably sexist.
The author treats Monica and Paula very disrespectfully in the text.
He also is extremely dismissive of Clinton's behavior. He repeatedly strips it down to 'a middle aged man having sex with an office worker/co-worker.' That's not really what happened here at all. A more accurate comparison would be a company owner/CEO having sex with a significantly younger unpaid intern. For which the owner wou
...more
Tom
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know what I remembered, being a Democrat and Clinton fan, and not following it too closely in the papers...

Now I have a much better idea of how the Circus actually came to town, and I gotta say, I am even more disgusted than I was then. Toobin lays out the story with extensive sources in all its sordid detail. He is not a Clinton apologist, nor is he a Starr apologist. Mostly he lays out just the facts, as far as they can be known. There's a lot of facts, and his account is clear. And wretched
...more
Marc
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Toobin's account of Clinton's legal problems in the 90's was supposed to be the topic of an up coming season of American Crime Story. Hence my interest in reading this book.

The author does a decent job at showing how the Paula Jones trial in Arkansas, the White Water Investigation by Special Counsel Kenneth Starr and the Monica Lewinsky deposition intertwined into the hot mess that plagued Capitol Hill in 1997-1998. I enjoyed reading the details about the many personalities' life, career and mot
...more
Lee Miller
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
After reading the first two pages of "Vast Conspiracy," you will be hooked. Jeffery Toobin has crafted a political analysis that reads like a political thriller.

Yet in writing a fascinating, disturbing, and often wildly funny book, Toobin loses none of the objectivity, expertise, and standards that make him television's top legal analyst. Toobin's greatest achievement is walking the reader through the swirl of events step by step so the patterns and relationships become clear. He also displays
...more
Tracy Jenkins
This was a book our book club chose, and I really wasn't that interested in rehashing all the sordid details from the Clinton scandals. However, reading this some 15 years later it is clear this president for whatever reason (zipper problems not withstanding) created the most personal hatred against a sitting president in our history. This was not political hatred, it was personal and his time in office gave a catapulted start to the divisive right wing media strongholds that persist today from ...more
Courtney Wynn
This book felt like a marathon. I bet this book would be more entertaining if you were watching the news when this all went down. I didn't know all the characters so I spent a lot of time looking up who each person was. This is basically a testament that politicians and lawyers are dishonest. Their motivation is power and they don't care how they get it. I can't believe how much tax dollars were spent on investigating the Clintons which never turned up anything. I didn't like how the author wrot ...more
Frank Stein
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even today, reading about the Clinton impeachment can feel like a tawdry activity. The public debate about impeachment was filled with intense discussions about penis shape, blow jobs, manual vaginal stimulation, and other sexual minutiae. It seems amazing that for over a year, the top political and media minds in the country debated little else.

Jeffrey Toobin, in this fine recounting of the impeachment, shows that the tawdriness touched and diminished almost everyone who came into contact with
...more
Caroline
I picked this up because I liked two of this other books; on the OJ Simpson trial and on Patty Hearst. This one made less of an impression on me, partly just because I knew more of the history already, but it still had many of the same things to recommend it.

I was thinking while reading it about what motivated me to, when eg I still have no idea what the Mueller Report is or what it says. My patience for learning about current events is selective, and for better or for worse I tend to be more dr
...more
Sarah
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating to read a detailed account of this massive political controversy that dominated the news in the late 90s. I remember so much and yet so little about it—I’m glad to know all the facts behind it, as sad as it all was.
Kelsie Donaldson
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A VERY detailed account of the whole messy affair. Good supplemental material for the podcast 'Slow Burn.' ...more
Kelly
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit it was a little difficult to put out of my mind that that author of this book has been involved in a sex scandal of his own and fathered a child outside of his marriage. The man I used to call "The Smart and Dreamy Jeffrey Toobin" was tarnished in my eyes a bit.

That being said, I enjoyed this well-reported telling of the Clinton Sex Scandal. The peek behind the scenes and the spelling out of all the times the situation could have been defused if it weren't for egos and ambition out
...more
Leah
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual, 2020, history
Sex, lies and audiotape…

Every detail you ever wanted to know about the whole Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, and several that you didn’t. This is more than a salacious recounting of the affair that nearly brought down a President, however. Jeffrey Toobin argues convincingly that politicians on both sides of the aisle had gradually been using the courts more and more to decide political questions, and that the Clinton scandal was a clear indication that the balance of power had shifted, and that the le
...more
Kathleen Kirchner
Feb 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I love Toobin, but this was not his best. Just a four hundred page love letter to the clintons, the nicest people in the world.
Sonja Rutherford
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mean. Wow. So, I apparently was too busy with high school and that time immediately after high school when you're trying to be an adult and wasn't TRULY paying attention (and wasn't adult enough to pay CLOSE attention) to the Clinton scandals/impeachment hearings. So, much like the time I went back to learn about the Iran hostage crisis, I bought myself a book and got down to work.

I'm giving this review 4 stars and I'm telling you that in advance because, this is clearly a bit left-leaning (Cl
...more
Clare
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A prescient book given the current political situation, A Vast Conspiracy lays out the facts of the impeachment of then President, Bill Clinton. Clinton was riding a wave of popularity but there had long been rumours about his dalliances with women other than his wife, Hillary. It was also rumoured that there was something more sinister to these extra marital encounters and that they weren’t entirely consensual. Clinton’s quite mind boggling decision to start a physical affair with intern, Monic ...more
Liz
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this for two reasons: first, because of the planned season for American Crime Story based in part on this book. Second, having been alive during this time period, I was interested in how it was written.

This is about the Clinton impeachment. And as I read, I remember how it unfolded in the media; I remembered what I thought at the time. I learned things I didn't know, had a better grasp of what was and was not going on.

I'd read that Monica Lewinsky is a producer for the planned season, and
...more
Jake
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Ah the good ol days when a President having an extramarital affair with a consenting adult was our nation's biggest scandal.

Toobin is good at breaking down legalese for the rest of us. As he did in Run Of His Life, he shows the maneuvering of powers that converged in an unlikely way for a trial that descended into farce. But unlike the OJ Simpson trial, which took time to get there, Clinton's was ridiculous from the beginning.

There are numerous people here, each with their own agenda and Toobin
...more
Ollie Hodgkinson
A surprisingly engaging book for which mainly revolves around American politics and law, a subject that I know not too much about. I had to concentrate quite a bit too, so I guess I’m a bit of a dumb boy.

The conclusions are a bit suspect, where the author seems to dismiss Paula Jones’ claims and also doesn’t really explore the irresponsibility and shadiness of Clinton’s actions. The most powerful man in the world was sleeping with a young public-hired intern, but it comes across as simply an ex
...more
Emily
Oct 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt quite sick reading this in places as everyone was either after money or power. I always thought Monica Lewinsky was an innocent party in all of this but in fact she was the instigator of the affair but that does not mean that Bill Clinton should have reacted the way he did to her behaviour! However by the end I did feel sorry for her as she did not deserve to be treated the way she was.
The book was rather long-winded and I didn't really understand a lot about the voting side of things. H
...more
Pablo
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's no doubt that Toobin is a sophisticated writer and an engaging storyteller, but ultimately all the legal erudition and political savvy couldn't rescue the book from the tabloid-y gossip in which it wallows.

The book does provide quite a bit of insight into the political machinations and personal vendettas that fueled this scandal, but I couldn't escape without feeling like too much brainpower had been expended on the topic.

Still, this was the dominant political scandal of my childhood, an
...more
Ellen
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-o-b, 2019
Read mostly for the Congressional/ impeachment-related details, but but it helped to fill in some details of the scandal for me. (I was a teen at the time and turns out my memories of the scandal were VERY distorted by pop culture/ whatever filtered down to that level. And of course, we didn't learn about it in history class.)

Oh yeah, and when Jeffrey Toobin described Lindsey Graham as someone who "liked being the center of attention as much as he cared about ideological purity" I fully lost my
...more
Art
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of Toobin as a television legal analyst for years...he's always struck me as being very factually driven and practical. Having read A Vast Conspiracy....I am an even bigger fan. This is an exceptionally well written narrative of how we got to where we did and note, Toobin both admires and deplores Clinton, and makes no bones about the latter. I'll let you readers decide whether impeachment was appropriate...did lying about sex reach the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors?" ...more
Emi
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeffrey Toobin is definitely one of the best non-fiction writers I know. This particular story is about the Monica Lewinsky. I still remember the scandal, so it was very interesting to read all the different aspects of this story. This story was not quite as good as his OJ Simpson book, but still a compelling narrative.
Afshin Afshar
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeffry Toobin does an excellent job of breaking down this curious and perhaps shameful (for all involved) episode in American history. He presents personalities, facts, processes, and the dynamics between them in a fascinating and captivating manner. A very enjoyable read for those who want to know what this entire thing was all about, how it started and eventually ended.
Kamala
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I was excited to read this book, as I as pretty young when this whole situation unfolded. What I found was a book with a LOT of information on the Clinton scandal, but it was really too much. I found A Vast Conspiracy to be somewhat repetitive, and just much longer than it needed to be to get the story out there.
Marie Stein
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book a while back, because I wanted to read a book by the author whose frequent guest spots on CNN have always been enlightening. He’s a brilliant writer. But I could barely finish it, because this story is so full of sexism and misogyny that was so much a part of the culture at the time. It’s quaint. Sort of. And a time capsule of shifting American notes and politics.
Mary Kan
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Toobin’s Editorializing Hasn’t Aged Well

I was struck by the petty comments about Monica Lewinsky - he painted her as shallow and conniving and silly. He also had snarky comments about pretty much everyone from Paula Jones to Henry Hyde (but not Barney Frank). Toobin comes off as arrogant. I would have preferred a more objective viewpoint and recitation of the facts.
Miranda
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Run of His Life and Jeffrey Toobin did not disappoint with this book. I was a little kid during the Clinton impeachment trial so there was a lot that I didn't know before I read this book. ...more
Ryan
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deep dive into something I didn't have a ton of interest in, although it ended up being quite fascinating, especially from a legal perspective. Toobin's commentary and bias lays on a little thick at times. ...more
Arlyne Gemmell
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this as Trump is currently out President, makes a lot of machinations clear

Clear reporting about events of the time. Descriptive analysis of political people that ring true as history has moved on. I find Mr. Toobin to be an excellent writer of historical situations.
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Jeffrey Ross Toobin (J.D., Harvard Law School, 1986; B.A., American History and Literature, Harvard University) is a lawyer, blogger, and media legal correspondent for CNN and formerly The New Yorker magazine. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, and later worked as a legal analyst for ABC News, where he received a 2001 Emmy Award for his coverage of t ...more

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