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The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes--"the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue." But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact, these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997, a pact that would have rocked the political landscape, had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal.
A fascinating look at politic
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not the best book in the world, but the ebook was for sale for $1.99 so I can't complain too much. It was an interesting read and I think it gives some good insight into the characters of both Clinton and Gingrich. It does a better job of humanizing Clinton, although that might simply be because he's more human.

In any event, I think the title is a little misleading. This book is really mostly about the backgrounds of Clinton and Gingrich and how it affected their relationship during the Clinton
Paul Brewer
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was the second book I read to try to learn how American politics went from a rather sporting rivalry commonly found in 'normal' countries to the current ugly partisanship which seems like a country on the brink of war. As it is written by an academic, I expected it to be a bit better than the journalistic first book I read on the matter. ( Instead I was disappointed. For all the flaws of Kornacki, he achieves more insight into 'what's gone wrong'. Ha ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author presents a very detailed picture of the bipartisan coalition and how it came about that Social Security almost had privatization added; but the Lewinsky scandal interfered. The author phrases the issue this way: "Whether the president and the Speaker could have pulled off a major overhaul of Social Security had it not been for the Lewinsky scandal will remain one of the great unanswerable questions of modern politics." Some have the opinion that Clinton could not have overhauled Socia ...more
Gordon Kwok
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. A lot of the information in the book, I already knew but maybe not at such a granular level. I left the book thinking this is a good example of what can happen when someone uses their intellectual talent for evil. No one disputes that Gingrich is by all accounts a well-read and intelligent man and surely knows how to read data and science. However, he chose to be a bombastic bomb-thrower of a politician and is largely and rightly credited with destroying the civility ...more
Jim Braly
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Each time I think political posturing cannot get worse, the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination slouch a little lower. Each time I think they cannot get crazier, they add a wing to their asylum. Historian Steven M. Gillon provides an intriguing (and depressing) backstory in “The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation.”

In short: Blame the 1960s.

Republicans hated Clinton because he was, as Gillon quotes a conservative, “a womanizing, Elvis-lo
The author and I differ in a major idea.  Steven M. Gillon sees it as a tragedy that the Monica Lewinsky scandal permanently damaged the progress of talks between Clinton and Gingrich to make Social Security and Medicare a quasi public/private entity.  They were going to make history with their "pact".  I see it as salvation that Monica Lewinsky came along and destroyed the ability for the two men to finalize their pact.  Gingrich ended up being swallowed up and destroyed by the conservatives an ...more
Bob Gill
Amazing but not surprising, Clinton was no progressive and Gingrich was no true wingnut. Both were on the quick and dirty with their sex life and the same with their political sense of what could get them ahead (pun intended). The fact that Lewinsky was suddenly in appearance at precisely the right time seems too much the hand of fate to believe it was simply a coincidence. I cannot shake the suspicion that someone knew and, as the CIA would do, simply put the two principals in position and let ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. Some people may read this book and think, Clinton messed up bad and his character made him lose an opportunity for some real big changes. Some may read it and say Gingrich messed up bad and his character also caused him to step in it and lose any chance for some big changes. I read this book and saw two serious amazing personalities,flawed and full of ego but pulled by their respective right/left wing of their parties not to compromise when they really wanted to. Both caugh ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
An engaging account of the mid-1990s battle between President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The author, Steven Gillon, goes a fine job of making you feel like a fly on the wall during high-stakes budget negotiations, even if he also overdoes his thesis that the Clinton-Gingrich battle is a refraction of the fight over the meaning of the 1960s. A fascinating political tragedy of two men undone (at least partly) by their own excesses. Being a Democrat, I'm inclined to be sympatheti ...more
Ken Bronsil
May 02, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a very detailed, well researched book that changed my images of both Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich: the two were more closely aligned than their public posturing and politicking made them out to be. Not that they were bosom buddies--it was a complicated relationship, and each tried to meet in the middle on many issues despite the urgings of their more radical constituents. In politics, it isn't always what it seems to be. So, from that point of view, this is a very interesting book, if ...more
Kevin McAllister
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the most interesting things about this book was just how much Clinton & Gingrich were influenced by the 60ies. The author Gillon, states that while Clinton & Gingrich took opposing views on subjects that were first raised in the 60ies, Clinton did all he could to find some common ground in order for the two parties to come to some agreements, whereas Gingrich went out of his way to keep them apart. Gillon makes the case that the nasty, partisan, hypocritical, and self centered actions of ...more
Rachel Jaffe
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, bargain, biography
Everything old is new again. This was a great look at Clinton and Gingrich, and also eerily reminiscent of today's dynamics. My favorite point was when Newt's advisor on the eve of the 1994 Republican Revolution told him that there was good news and bad news. The good news: they would gain a lot of seats. The bad news: "wait until you meet them."

A fascinating time, and fascinating characters.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't perfect--it tended to be a bit shallow and pop-psychology-dependent at times. But it gave great insight into events in the 90's and especially pertinent right now, great insight into Newt Gingrich and what kind of president he might make. Interesting read in light of recent developments in the Republican primaries; there are things in here everyone should know about Gingrich. ...more
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: haveread
Not the world's most exciting book. However, I really enjoyed reading it. Both men, Clinton and Gingrich, grew up at the same time, and their political careers were aligned, most definitely. I learned a lot that I didn't know about both of them. After reading this I will not be voting for Gingrich. But now I will not be voting because of understanding and knowledge I gained from this book. ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I read this for one of my undergraduate classes and I found it pretty interesting considering I had, and still have at times, no interest in politics.
Shane Grier
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Outstanding. I enjoyed this book so much. Highly recommend to the politically minded.
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Detailed and insightful account of two influential figures. A very enjoyable read.
RN Figueroa
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Matthew Rosser
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Apr 10, 2018
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Mar 28, 2016
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Aug 29, 2012
Clay Lazenby
rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2019
Helen Andrews
rated it it was ok
Jan 29, 2017
May 16, 2017 added it
Short but interesting. The author admits in the final pages that more detailed analysis has to wait for the historical resources to become available, but otherwise his thesis holds up well that Clinton and Gingrich each stumbled, and ultimately were pushed together by the fire of their respective party's ideologues until the Lewinsky scandal shut down their efforts to form a centrist coalition. If nothing else this is a good primer into 90's U.S. politics that has left me interested to learn mor ...more
Patrick G.
rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2015
Heston Allocco
rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2012
Grindy Stone
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Jan 28, 2013
Seth Schroder
rated it it was amazing
Dec 12, 2011
rated it really liked it
Oct 13, 2008
Thad Barrow
rated it did not like it
Jun 29, 2014
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