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Rachel Carson
Refiguring Mass Communication
Democracy and Political Ignorance
Inside Teaching
Mohandas Gandhi
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The Dalai Lama's Secret and Other Reporting Adventures
My Forty Years With Ford
Restored to Earth
Nuclear Statecraft


Inside the Presidency of Bill Clinton

Michael Nelson, Barbara A. Perry and Russell L. Riley

Narrated by Kirk O. Winkler

Available from Audible

Book published by Cornell University Press

This book uses hundreds of hours of newly opened interviews and other sources to illuminate the life and times of the nation's forty-second president, Bill Clinton. Combining the authoritative perspective of these inside accounts with the analytic powers of some of America’s most distinguished presidential scholars, the essays assembled here offer a major advance in our collective understanding of the Clinton White House. Included are path-breaking chapters on the major domestic and foreign policy initiatives of the Clinton years, as well as objective discussions of political success and failure.

42 is the first book to make extensive use of previously closed interviews collected for the Clinton Presidential History Project, conducted by the Presidential Oral History Program of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. These interviews, recorded by teams of scholars working under a veil of strict confidentiality, explored officials’ memories of their service with President Clinton and their careers prior to joining the administration. Interviewees also offered political and leadership lessons they had gleaned as eyewitnesses to and shapers of history. Their spoken recollections provide invaluable detail about the inner history of the presidency in an age when personal diaries and discursive letters are seldom written.

The authors producing this volume had first access to more than fifty of these cleared interviews, including sessions with White House chiefs of staff Mack McLarty and Leon Panetta, Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, National Security Advisors Anthony Lake and Sandy Berger, and a host of political advisors who guided Clinton into the White House and helped keep him there. This book thus provides a multidimensional portrait of Bill Clinton's administration, drawing largely on the observations of those who knew it best.

Michael Nelson is the Fulmer Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College and a Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. He is the author or editor of many books, including Governing at Home: The White House and Domestic Policymaking, How the South Joined the Gambling Nation: The Politics of State Policy Innovation, and The Presidency and the Political System.

Barbara A. Perry is a Senior Fellow in the Miller Center's Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch, The Michigan Affirmative Action Cases, and Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier.

Russell L. Riley is Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. He is the author of The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality: Nation-Keeping from 1831 to 1965 and coeditor with Michael Nelson of Governing at Home: The White House and Domestic Policymaking, among other books.


“Drawing on the rich resources of the Miller Center's innovative oral history program, 42 offers impressively fair-minded assessments of 'the paradox that was Bill Clinton' and of his ‘tainted success’ as president.”

—William E Leuchtenburg, author of The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

“This book makes an original and significant contribution to presidency studies and American politics with its comprehensive assessment of the Clinton presidency. The range of perspectives and topics will engage scholars and policymakers about the political leadership, policy successes, and challenges of one of the most consequential presidencies in the twentieth century. The authors made good use of the unique primary resource of transcripts in the William J. Clinton Presidential History Project of the University of Virginia's Miller Center. By incorporating the perspectives of administration officials into scholarly commentary on politics, domestic policy, and foreign policy, 42 presents a complete and informative evaluation of the Clinton presidency.”

—Meena Bose, Executive Dean of the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy, and International Affairs and Director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency,

“In 42, Michael Nelson, Barbara A. Perry, and Russell L. Riley have achieved a rare meld of political science analysis and oral history verisimilitude. This is an indispensable document about the Clinton presidency.”

—David Levering Lewis, Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History, Emeritus, New York University, author of W. E. B. Du Bois

“This book contains invaluable, deeply probing, highly readable scholarship on Bill Clinton's remarkable if complicated presidency. 42 profits greatly from a trove of oral history interviews with key participants.”

—Thomas E. Cronin, Colorado College, coauthor of The Paradoxes of the American Presidency

42 hits a home run. From its introduction to its conclusion, this lively collection of essays by the nation's leading presidential scholars dissects the presidency of Bill Clinton by exploiting a unique resource: oral history interviews with over 130 individuals, including Cabinet officers, political advisors, members of Congress, and assorted foreign dignitaries. These interviews provide the foundation for a series of astute commentaries on the Clinton presidency. This deftly written and authoritative study is a must-read for students of the American presidency and of contemporary politics.”

—Stephen F. Knott, Professor of National Security Affairs, United States Naval War College

“For anyone interested in Bill Clinton's presidency, nothing compares to the accounts provided here in 42. The accomplished scholars writing in this volume deftly weave insights from an extraordinary collection of on-the-record interviews with key administration officials into a riveting analysis of the political context in which that president—and that paradoxical presidency—both succeeded as well as fell short of expectations. It is all here: deep coverage of domestic policy, foreign policy and party politics of that period provide a thoughtful foundation for understanding the path leading to our contemporary political environment.”

—Nancy Kassop, State University of New York at New Paltz

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University Press Audiobooks