Friends in High Places: The Rise and Fall of Clark Clifford

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9780316291620: Friends in High Places: The Rise and Fall of Clark Clifford

For more than forty years, Clark Clifford was Washington's consummate Democratic power broker - attorney and adviser to the nation's most influential leaders. His 1991 memoir, Counsel to the President, looked back on a remarkable career of public service. But the very year his autobiography was published, the Clifford legend began to crumble. Caught up in the scandal that destroyed the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the eighty-five-year-old Clifford was arrested on charges relating to his law firm's involvement with the outlaw bank. Though his case never went to trial, and his protege, Robert Altman, was found not guilty, Clifford's reputation was in ruins. How could such a man come to such an end? What happened? And why? In Friends in High Places, a noted investigative reporter and a chief investigator in the Senate inquiry on BCCI provide the answers. Drawing on original documents, more than a hundred interviews with Clifford's friends and adversaries, and fifty hours of interviews with Clifford himself, the authors reveal the drive and shrewdness that led Clifford to the pinnacle of power - and demonstrate convincingly that his involvement with BCCI was no aberration, but the bitter fruit of seeds planted at the beginning.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Born in St. Louis in 1906, Clifford ended up working at the White House during WWII as a naval aide and soon came to the attention of fellow Missourian Harry Truman. Though he started out by organizing the President's poker games, he was soon in the middle of major decision-making: implementation of the Truman Doctrine; recognition of the State of Israel; formation of the plan behind Truman's close reelection in 1948, which, the authors contend, was the brainchild not of Clifford but of political aide James Rowe. A relentless self-promoter, Clifford went into private practice in 1950, piously claiming, "I have no influence," but he soon garnered as clients the likes of Howard Hughes, Phillips Petroleum, RCA, Revlon, DuPont and JFK, whom he defended against columnist Drew Pearson's charges of plagiarizing in Profiles in Courage. His "tumultuous tenure" as LBJ's peacenik secretary of defense during the Vietnam War is closely chronicled along with, finally, the First American/Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal, for which he was indicted and later acquitted in 1993. A juicy, eye-opening look at the fascinating life of the ultimate Washington insider. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Clifford undoubtedly expected his 1991 memoir, Counsel to the President, to cement his reputation as wise grandee of the Democratic Party. But the seamy BCCI bank scandal tarnished him that year, ruined his hopes and his law firm, and paved the way for Frantz and McKean's critical but humanizing review of his life. Generally commiserative rather than carping about Clifford's past conduct, they imbue incidents with the discreet milieu of power in the 1950s and 1960s. As Truman's aide, he accepted loans (later repaid) to supplement his salary; he tendered the same favor to William Douglas, who decided cases Clifford personally argued before the Supreme Court; and even his meal ticket to fame and wealth--receiving credit for Truman's winning political strategy in 1948--is tainted, as another man devised the plan. In his favor, the authors applaud episodes such as Clifford's year as defense secretary, but they primarily accent his career as the capital's prototypical lawyer-lobbyist. Evenhanded and well written, this cautionary tale should attract flocks of politically aware readers. Gilbert Taylor

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Frantz, Douglas, McKean, David
Published by Little, Brown and Company (1995)
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Frantz, Douglas; McKean, David
Published by Little, Brown and Company
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