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

Toobin, Jeffrey

ISBN 10: 0375502955 / ISBN 13: 9780375502958
Published by New York: Random House, 1999
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
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Signed by the author on the title page, not on a tipped-in sheet or bookplate. No inscriptions, personalizations, or remainder marks. Bookseller Inventory # 124-60

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex...

Publisher: New York: Random House

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition, First Printing.

About this title

Synopsis:

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 Little Rock hotel and ended on the floor of the United States Senate, with only the second vote on Presidential removal in American history.  This is an entirely fresh look at the scandal that very nearly brought down a president.

Packed with news-making disclosures and secret documents published here for the first time, Toobin unravels the three strands of a national scandal - those leading from  Paula Jones, Kenneth Starr, and Monica Lewinsky - that created a legal, personal, and political disaster for Bill Clinton.  A Vast Conspiracy is written with the narrative drive of a sensational (if improbable) legal thriller, and Toobin brilliantly explores the high principle and low comedy that were the hallmarks of the story.  From Tripp to Goldberg, Isikoff to Hyde, the complex and tangled motivations behind the scandal are laid bare.

While misguided, outlandish behavior was played out at the very highest level, Toobin analyzes the facts and the key figures with a level of dignity and insight that this story has not yet received. The Clinton scandals will shape forever how we think about the signature issues of our day -- sex and sexual harassment, privacy and perjury, civil rights, and, yes, cigars.  Toobin's book will shape forever how we think about the Clinton scandals.

Review:

What--another book about the messes Bill Clinton got himself into? Well, yes, but with a difference: Jeffrey Toobin's A Vast Conspiracy is the first to provide readers with comprehensive behind-the-scenes details of the machinations of independent counsel Kenneth Starr's team of prosecutors, lawyers for Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, and congressional members as the president's "inappropriate relationship" snowballed into the country's first impeachment proceedings in over a century.

Toobin's narrative is one of the most levelheaded versions of the 1998 scandal yet published, although he has very few kind words for anybody involved. "No other major political controversy in American history produced as few heroes as this one," he notes, and "in spite of his consistently reprehensible behavior, Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle." While debunking Hillary Rodham Clinton's claims that she and her husband were the victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" (a claim that ignores Clinton's responsibility for his actions), Toobin does demonstrate how lawyers for Paula Jones collaborated with Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg to build the most damaging case possible against the president. (He also suggests, not without cause, that Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff worked more closely with Tripp and Goldberg than he reported in his own book, Uncovering Clinton.)

While for the most part discreetly judgmental, A Vast Conspiracy sometimes borders on cruel in its descriptions of Monica Lewinsky: after describing a 45-minute discussion between Clinton and his sometime sex partner, Toobin comments, "An actual conversation with Lewinsky may have been the thing that cured the president of his infatuation," and then later, "There were few better measures of Tripp's dedication to her book research and Clinton-hating than the simple fact that she tolerated Lewinsky's inane chatter for so long." Yet his portrayal of Lewinsky as "a genuine, if occasional, sexual partner as well as an obsessed, unhinged fan" is, thanks to his rich storytelling abilities, compelling. (Whether it's true remains to be seen; some readers of his previous book, The Run of His Life, believe that Toobin's portrayal of O.J. Simpson seriously underestimated the suspected killer.) And, although it will no doubt get overlooked amidst all the salacious details of the case, Toobin makes a good argument for how the whole brouhaha was an inevitable result of several decades of "legal activism," in which lawsuits were used to achieve broad political changes. Between Richard Posner's musings on the legal aspects of the impeachment hearings in An Affair of State and Toobin's narrative reconstruction of the events leading up to the impeachment, we have the beginnings of a calm consideration of just what exactly happened to American politics during Clinton's second term. --Ron Hogan

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