Carol Felsenthal is the author of several biographies, among them, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story, Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant.

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Carol Felsenthal's latest biography, a candid, objective look at Bill
Clinton's post White House years, was published in paperback by HarperCollins in June 2009.

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Booklist (starred review):

CLINTON IN EXILE by Carol Felsenthal


“Review of the Day”

Postpresidency, Bill Clinton is as intriguing as ever. Having left office under the cloud of the Monica Lewinksy scandal and his controversial pardon of Marc Rich, Clinton spent a few lonely years in the new family home in Chappaqua , New York . He regained his bearings as a highly paid, extremely popular speaker and executive of a charitable foundation, with wider esteem outside the U.S. than at home. But journalist Felsenthal presents a man haunted by missed opportunities and obsessed with his legacy. She details struggles with his memoirs and his health. She also analyzes Clinton’s prickly relationship with Jimmy Carter, reconciliation with Al Gore, friendship with the first President Bush—solidified by their joint efforts to raise tsunami relief funds—and Clinton’s renewed appeal as a political advisor. His old friends complain that the new FOBs are among the uber-rich who can offer access to corporate jets and money to finance the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Felsenthal, who talked to more than 175 friends, associates, and enemies of Bill Clinton, offers insight into Clinton’s role in the 2000 presidential election and the current election, where he delicately attempts to help his wife without overshadowing her, even amid rumors of continued infidelity and speculation of his role in a Hillary administration. Completely fascinating. — Vanessa Bush

Chicago Magazine
May 2008

'A Slippery Subject'
Read article here

Bill back onstage
by Michael Miner on April 23rd 2008 - 4:24 p.m.
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Nance Garner, Carol Felsenthal

Carol Felsenthal made an interesting observation about the Clintons to me recently. Back in '98, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was new, a lot of people thought Hillary should have thrown Bill out of the house. But the White House was his house. Giving the bum the heave-ho would have raised constitutional issues. If she's elected in November, he'll have to watch it.

Felsenthal, a friend of mine, is coming out with a new book, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House. Even in 2001, when he moved out on his own terms because his presidency was over, she says, it was a pretty miserable leavetaking. He was in semidisgrace, thanks to the Marc Rich pardon and stories (way overblown, according to Felsenthal) of his staff trashing Air Force One and the West Wing. TV comics "made him into a ridiculous, pitiful figure." To top it off, he had nowhere to go. The Clintons had bought a place in Chappaqua so she could run for senator in New York, but now that she'd been elected she was never there and it meant nothing to him. "He was stranded with his dog Buddy and his butler and the Secret Service in the garage," with Maureen Dowd hiding out front in the evergreens waiting to pounce, she says.

Felsenthal predicts that Clinton won't be back in the White House anytime soon, but if she's wrong she has no concern that Bill would be, or would even attempt to be, a Putin to Hillary's Medvedev. "She would say, 'Forget that, buddy.'" So what would the ex-president do with himself? Apparently he had trouble with that as president, too. "Hillary goes to sleep at night and in the morning she's wide awake and ready for action," says Felsenthal. "Bill would stay up all night on the telephone and playing cards and then he'd go into a policy meeting and fall asleep." Felsenthal thinks Hillary would get him out of her hair, turning him into an envoy forever on the move, serving his nation by spreading his bad-boy charm.

Clinton showed up onstage with Hillary and Chelsea Tuesday night to bask in the Pennsylvania victory, but he hasn't been seen much since the night of the Iowa defeat. His staying away has been tactical, Felsenthal says, not a sign that the couple's on the outs. They seldom see each other, but they talk all the time, and despite how odd the marriage is it's a strong one, she believes. If Hillary's president she'll be the boss, but he'll be her top consultant, "and that's why the vice presidency in a Hillary Clinton administration would be a bucket of warm piss." In other words, a return to normalcy. That's what John Nance Garner called the vice presidency when he served under FDR, long before the office was taken over by Rasputin, I mean Dick Cheney.

The book jacket calls Clinton in Exile a "definitive biography," which it isn't. Instructed by her publisher, Morrow, Felsenthal cut some 80,000 words from her original manuscript, most of them telling the pre-2001 "back story." The biographical stuff, in short. Felsenthal has been promoting her book by writing on the Clintons at She had a good post recently about Bill Clinton's wristwatches. When he was governor, and even after he was elected president, "he was infamous for wearing a cheap plastic Timex Ironman" -- or so Felsenthal was told by a watchmaker who does business with Clinton now. Timex had a big operation in Arkansas. Now Clinton has more than 50 watches, one of them valued at more than $100,000. Felsenthal regrets that "no one has reported which watch the former president sported when he traveled in Pennsylvania bashing Obama as an out-of-touch elitist."

Down but not out
CHICAGO LIT | Bill Clinton will see another comeback, author says

May 18, 2008


Bill Clinton was going nowhere, fast. No. 42 had just left the White House and was living in Chappaqua, N.Y., with his valet, Oscar, and his dog, Buddy. Hillary was in the Senate, living in a mansion in D.C., and making it clear she did not want him around. Chelsea had her own career and life. But worst of all, the press and the public were turning against him.

One outrage after another was sinking the former president's popularity: the supposed filching of White House furniture; the eye-popping pardon of disgraced financier Marc Rich; the stripping of Air Force II, and the decision to rent an outrageously expensive, taxpayer-funded office in Manhattan. The Comeback Kid needed yet another comeback.

Clinton in Exile author Carol Felsenthal blogs about Bill and Hillary Clinton, among other hot topics, on the Huffington Post.

Chicago writer Carol Felsenthal's juicy, can't-put-down new book, Clinton in Exile: A president Out of the White House, explains how he achieved that comeback and became an international "rock star."

Exile begins at the very end of Clinton's White House tenure -- he's jacked up on adrenaline, maniacally running around, every moment a beehive of restless activity, entertaining Terry MacCauliffe, watching half a movie, packing boxes -- and issuing pardons.

Clinton left the White House "in a pretty good place," says Felsenthal. "He escaped conviction, his approval ratings in the 60s, he was riding a wave of love and appreciation from the American public, and then the bottom fell out with his inexplicably poor judgment."

Soon enough, Clinton got his act together and hit the road, raising tremendous amounts of money to eradicate AIDS in Africa and earning millions giving speeches. But Bill had changed, writes Felsenthal. Bubba, the man who never cared much about money, was now Jetsetter Bill, riding on private jets with billionaires and "surrounded by sycophants and fans and groupies."

Felsenthal describes Clinton as "handsome, powerful, charismatic and extremely narcissistic, but he has a real need to be loved."

But these days he's not feeling a lot of love. It's no secret that the primary season has been a disaster for Bill Clinton. Over the last few months, we've seen his popularity plunge. Consider: his ill-conceived comment about Jesse Jackson in South Carolina; his stray, off-message remarks on the stump; his red-faced rants, and his ludicrous defense of Hillary's Bosnia sniper-fire story (She was 60 and telling a story late at night. She was tired.). Armchair psychologists think Clinton is perhaps subconsciously sabotaging his wife's presidential chances out of jealousy or fear of being overshadowed.

Not a chance, says Felsenthal. He is jonesing too much for the White House: "He was telling people when he left the White House that he wished he could have 10 more terms. And he really wants Hillary to win because he does feel like he owes her."

And of course he is always, always worried about his legacy.

Felsenthal, author of unauthorized biographies of Katharine Graham, Alice Roosevelt Longworth and others, has taken some hits from critics who are unhappy about her unscholarly, gossipy approach to her subject.

With chapters such as "Philanderer in Chief," you might argue that. But you also could note that such a scandal-soaked subject calls for a bit of tawdry treatment.

Clinton-bashers will delight in some of the book's stories, especially those of Clinton's woman-chasing. But the writer gives Clinton the benefit of the doubt and offers up an even-handed account of her slippery subject. Felsenthal quotes true believers who say the Clintons' love affair is indeed real.

Don Hewitt of "60 Minutes" says, "I have to believe that he is smart enough to make sure there is no more bimbo gossip."

But then there is this jewel of a quote, from a Democrat who has worked for Clinton and knows him socially: "Of course Clinton's still screwing around. He's never paid a price for his transgressions. ... I think he is running around like crazy."

Hollywood billionaire and former Clinton supporter David Geffen says, "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person."

But the campaign hasn't reached the point where adultery is an issue.

"Temptation is all around," says Felsenthal. "I have no doubt that in a general election, if Hillary were the candidate, that would be a heavy albatross around her neck.

"I laugh to myself when I hear her saying, 'I'm the most vetted candidate ever,' because it is so patently untrue."

What is undeniably true is that time is running out for Bill and Hillary.

But Exile ends on a hopeful note, at the beginning of 2008, when the Democratic nomination was still well within reach.

And even after all the slams, Felsenthal can see another comeback.

"He's down again," she says, "But I have no doubt he will regain his reputation in a couple of months. He has an enormous ability to judge the public mood."

Amanda Barrett is the features editor of the Sun-Times.

Bill's Chicago Pals Turn Away
Felsenthal's 'Exile' catalogs a shift to Obama

April 28, 2008
Recommend (6)

BY BILL ZWECKER Sun-Times Columnist

There are quite a few big Windy City connections in Chicago author Carol Felsenthal's Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, her fascinating biography of President Bill Clinton's post-White House years. Among Clinton's close Chicago pals Felsenthal interviewed for the book, she finds it interesting that

''many of his closest Chicago supporters -- Lew Manilow (who I didn't interview), Lou Susman, Lou Weisbach, Bill Daley, David Schulte, etc., are now supporting [Barack] Obama.''

One of the ex-prez's best buddies is noted Chicago restaurateur Phil Stefani, who told Felsenthal about a White House overnight where they slept in the Lincoln Bedroom and played a Scrabble-like game Clinton loved, called ''Upwards.'' Proof that one is never off-duty when you're the most powerful person in the world, Clinton got everyone playing the game, then announced, ''I have to go and call Arafat, and then I'll be back.''

Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), speaks at her Pennsylvania primary election night party in Philadelphia earlier this month.

As Clinton in Exile hits bookstores this month, Felsenthal will get buzz for a number of revelations in the book. Those include President Clinton saying (in August, 2006) that Obama and Tennessee's Harold Ford, Jr. ''are the two guys with the juice to go all the way.'' ... Asked if Hillary Clinton would run in 2008, her husband said (in the summer of '06), ''No, because I don't think she can win.''

And there are references to the rumors that President Clinton continues to stray. Felsenthal quotes a highly placed Democratic operative as saying, ''when Clinton travels in private planes, there are women aboard,'' and quotes another Clinton friend saying, ''I know that he has a new relationship and it's dangerous, and there's more than one.''

Clinton in Exile includes a photo of Canadian politician Belinda Stronach, a woman 20 years Bill Clinton's junior, who allegedly was involved with him. But Felsenthal writes, ''if there ever was a relationship, it is said to be over.''

Kansas City Star

April 28, 2008
New bio reports Clinton told ABC to kill "Path to 9/11"

Carol Felsenthal is a Chicago-based journalist who first contacted me about three years ago, when she was working on a profile of Roger Ebert for Chicago magazine. I was impressed at the resulting piece, which pulled no punches and suggested strongly that the only reason Disney was keeping the Ebert and Roeper show on the air was prestige, not profits. Felsenthal's work would be borne out by later events, as re-up negotiations have gotten bogged down since Ebert took himself off the air, and his partner has had to stop using the famous thumb ratings.

Clinton2Felsenthal has a new book out this week May 6, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House. I'm about halfway through, but I think that Felsenthal has set the bar high for subsequent biographers/apologists/attack dogs writing about the Clinton post-presidency. Yes, she conducted the requisite supersize number of interviews (165), with enough insiders to the Billary circle to make her reporting credible short of actually getting access to the Clintons. And yes, there's a pile of footnotes, though a separate list of interviews conducted would've been nice, too. But it's her storyline that people are going to find compelling, not to mention timely. She argues that Clinton's bad habits, excess, and lack of focus all cost him dearly as President and now threaten to tarnish his legacy. He is the mirror opposite of his nemesis Jimmy Carter. While Carter has used his inner discipline to rebuild his brand from one-term dud to Nobel laureate, Clinton is spending all the goodwill he built up over two terms like a riverboat gambler. His 2004 memoir My Life, Felsenthal writes, is the embodiment of the ex-President's lack of discipline, a 1,000-page rush job that, she pointedly notes, disappointed Clinton when it didn't win a Pulitzer.

I'll let other reviewers deal with the sauciest revelations from the book, which could be summarized as billionaires, bimbos and Boeings. There's some news in here from the TV front. Felsenthal reviews the inglorious stint of Clinton and Bob Dole doing a point-counterpoint segment on "60 Minutes." Don Hewitt, the show's creator, wanted Bill O'Reilly instead of Dole. But even if Hewitt had found a more acceptable pundit to spar with him, Clinton wouldn't have done anything to hurt Hillary's future ambitions, Felsenthal writes. So a FOB from the GOP was picked instead, with predictable resultzzzzzz.

But the really eyebrow-raising story, and the one that may have legs if the primary battle between his wife and Barack Obama stretches into the summer, is how Team Clinton worked hard to kill off the "Path to 9/11" miniseries on ABC in 2006. Though even close advisors to the Clinton Administration have conceded shortcomings in their response to al-Qaeda — so well laid out in Lawrence Wright's magnificent account The Looming Tower — they all went into attack mode after some FOBs saw a preview of the first night of "Path to 9/11." Even though the script was from a veteran TV docudrama writer who had no real axe to grind, and had been reviewed carefully by 9/11 Commission icon Tom Kean, he was quickly demonized as a right-wing hack by Clintonites and their amen corner in the blogosphere. I remember interviewing Kean and finding him not just to be a celebrity endorser of the miniseries but someone who seemed well acquainted with the accounts and descriptions of the two-night commercial-free program. That, of course, was before Team Clinton went to work. Kean's relationship with Clinton was damaged by the "Path to 9/11" fallout.

Most shameful are the performances of Sandy Berger, who called scenes "defamatory" that reenact accounts he had corroborated elsewhere; and Madeleine Albright, who wanted the movie censored without bothering to watch it. As to the claim that Clinton was less than fully focused on world affairs from 1998 to 2000 because he was being distracted by a certain long-running sex scandal ... does anyone NOT believe that? By recounting the events of "Path to 9/11," Felsenthal tells us a lot about Clinton 42 and how its efforts to protect its legacy may ultimately cripple his wife's chances of being Clinton 44 or 45.

Anyway, it's a great read. Chip Franklin and I talked about the book and other political TV items (Antonin Scalia on "60 Minutes," Craig Ferguson at the White House Correspondents Dinner) today on KOGO.

Library Journal

Felsenthal, Carol. Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House. Morrow. May 2008. 368p. photogs. index. ISBN 978-0-06-123159-9. $25.95. POL SCI
Verdict: This book will be in particular demand during this election year; Felsenthal does not avoid the topics that general readers will enjoy reading more about. Recommended for public libraries.
Background: Huffington Post blogger and unauthorized biographer Felsenthal (Power, Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story) spent a couple of years observing and assessing the life of President Bill Clinton since his departure from the White House. Not surprisingly, she takes readers back and forth in time, so that she connects his post-presidential traits and habits with his modes of operating in the past. Her well-written account makes use of over 150 interviews she undertook with Clinton associates, including friends, former colleagues, and occasional enemies. Evidently, the Clintons’ inner circle cooperated with the author, who offers updates and new information on Bill Clinton’s past and present relationships with the first President Bush, his own vice president Al Gore, and Hillary, as well as other women who have been subjected to the Clinton rumor mill. Most of Felsenthal's interviewees gave a pass on describing Bill Clinton's character flaws. Felsenthal herself, however, deeply observes his preoccupation with his legacy and the competitive instincts aroused in him on that account (vis-à-vis other ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, for example). She also ponders what Bill Clinton’s role will be in the White House if he finds himself there as the president’s spouse.—Karen Sutherland, DesPlaines Valley P.L. Dist., IL

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Reading: Carol Felsenthal’s Clinton in Exile

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill, 7/17/08

There is a masterfully crafted scene in Carol Felsenthal’s Clinton in Exile that brings to mind the stillness and awe of Robert E. Lee signing surrender at Appomattox or Nelson’s funeral after Trafalgar. You feel as if you are waiting there for Lee to make his despondent comment on behalf of the heroic vanquished when Grant’s Indian guide responded, “We’re all Americans here.” You feel you are nervously waiting through a dead quiet in a side parlor for Wellington to arrive or perhaps the King’s entourage to enter and offer homage to the fallen warrior and god king of Trafalgar. You sense that the events which brought you to these pivotal passages in the river are larger than you are; larger than your family is and more important and people will look to this great moment as a turning for a 1,000 years to come. But it is not Nelson at Trafalgar or Lee at Appomattox . It is Bill Clinton entering a room of adoring supporters waiting for him to do a crossword puzzle.

And that captures the essence of this downward spiral which is the life and times of Bill Clinton starting on the day he left office. Trafalgar and Appomattox are indeed simply bends in the river of a tribal pre-history which brought us to this, the most important moment in “human history” as Clinton tends to describe the events which led up to this moment; to his moment, the Brahma point from which all past time descends and all future time ascends. He describes the Internet as “the fastest growing means of communication in human history” in 1998 as he so described the cloning of Dolly. Just as he described Hillary as co-winner of the Democratic primary last week while addressing a group of governors.

But he would be uncomfortable with the analogy of Lee and Nelson, even though, as Felsenthal points out, he wanted military medals added to his official White House portrait, although he dodged the draft and like much in this legacy, he lied about it. Likely he envisions himself as a kind of Gandhi or Bodhiharma who saved Africa – although one million Rwandans died on his watch and died by the knife – and cured AIDS, much as Elvis dreamed that he was Jesus later in his life.

This is an odyssey of gold watches and billionaire friends; bimbos, bling and a private airplane bigger than a doublewide; and cash-raising speeches, end on end – three in a day at up to $800,000 a pop, bringing in $46 million in just a few years. But at the center of this political theater nothing holds. There is no Trafalgar. There is no Appomattox . There is no center. In the center is a maze – a crossword puzzle; a maze much like the one Dedalus built to insulate the King and hide him from his obsession.

Felsenthal’s book brings to mind the great writing of Barbara Tuchman; great because Tuchman creates on her canvas a pastiche of such detail that the story which is history is revealed as if of its own initiative. Likewise, Felsenthal, without guile, rancor or interpretation, reveals critical details we need to know to understand what happened to put what we have heard so far into perspective; the conversation between Bill and Hillary when the Monica episode is sprung to the press was quiet and loving; that the Monica episode is characteristic of a life-long journey, and that the key enabler in this fairly squalid story is not Bill’s Hollywood hack producer friends or vain political panderers, but Hillary. Like the plain girl – as Bill’s mother, Virginia, who wore tube tops and played the ponies, described her – who married the fancy man, she seems to expect the controversy and maybe enjoy it, vicariously sharing in its shady celebrity. It is the source and means of her entire public life and persona.

When the subject of Bill’s continued philandering was raised with Hillary, she responded, says one man who knows both Clintons well. “Screw ‘em. If they want to go vote for a pro-life Republican, let ‘em.”

We need to hear these voices and the not so quiet and loving voices as well: Don Hewett recalls a 60 Minutes episode about Vernon Jordan, Bill’s golf pal, when Mike Wallace asked him, “What do you and Bill Clinton talk about on the golf course?” and Jordan answered, “Pussy.”

This is Bill’s story but it is also a generation’s story; or rather, the story of that part of a generation which came to identify with the Clintons . It is the story of that part of the generation born to adulthood on May 4, 1970, perhaps, the day of Kent State , of which hippie leader Jerry Rubin said, “After Kent State you couldn’t get a girl to type your term paper for you anymore.” Rubin declared the hippie movement dead then and said, “Wealth creation is the real American Revolution.” He moved on to Wall St. and that part of the generation which sees Clinton as its avatar followed like a horde.

Felsenthal’s book tells a story of liberalism as it began to take an unusual tack with this group, at a time when Lewis H. Lapham, the venerable Harper’s editor, said liberals began to enter a room in a way that seem to say look at my haircut.

And it is a story of plain people, Bill and Hillary, or people who started out plain and today face the daily terror that history will remember them as plain.

During his lowest moods, Felsenthal writes, Bill worried that the business, policy, and nonprofit worlds would reject him out of fear that their members would be offended by his very presence. “That fed into his biggest insecurity – “ she writes, “that he did not really belong in the elite circles in which he mixed, the he was, after all, just white trash.”

But Felsenthal’s detailed writing reveals an ambivalence; possibly an inherent, subliminal desire by Clinton to flaunt the low life and vindicate the lore and mores of the poor white folk of the agrarian South. In her subtle and skillful telling, the Clintons begin to suggest and original Bill and Hillary counterpart and a historic parallel which some historians have suggested came about in opposition to the hippies and the Sixties generation: The TV preachers Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.

Felsenthal writes: Today Bill Clinton collects high-end watches and wears a Rolex, or a Patek Philippe or a Cartier or an Audemars Piguet or a watch by the young German watchmaker Michael Kobold. These are watches that cost thousands of dollars; some reach to six figures. Clinton has about fifty watches in his collection . . . . In 2004, when Michael Kobold, German born and only twenty-seven, first met Clinton at a small private party, the former president was wearing an Audemars Piguet skeleton watch that was worth well over a hundred thousand dollars.

So many watches, so little time. She goes on and the passage brings to mind Jim Baker holding up his gold watch and joyfully shouting to the TV camera: See this gold watch? Jee-sus wants you to have this gold watch.

Felsenthal tells an important story; a story which took us to the end of the second millennium and to a continuing series of events by a Presidential couple which historians will see perhaps in time as a phenomenon rather than a political process, and possibly even as a millennialist phenomenon like UFO encounters, Wormwood, dreams of the Yellow Monk, Jerry Springer and visions of Armageddon.

Halitosis Hall gets an ‘F’ for long-range thinking
April 30, 2008 11:29:47 PM

Hats off to the brave lawmakers at Halitosis Hall! The folks whose shortsightedness brought you our current budget mess are quite prepared to make withering cuts to the needy, while complaining about how hard it is to make these choices. When it comes to taking the hit themselves, they turn tail and run like Iraqi Army soldiers.

Phillipe + Jorge refer, of course, to how the majority of State House hindleggers are not willing to help pay for their own taxpayer-funded health insurance packages. What a blatant and spineless cop-out even as other state employees take it in the chops. (Or sensibly bail out via the early retirement packages being offered, which should do wonders for the Biggest Little’s institutional memory and the quality of practical performance once all the experienced workers have vamoosed.) “We feel your pain”? Not bloody likely for these courageous souls.

When they discuss the “State House leadership,” an oxymoron of the first water, you needn’t search for any of their names as being willing to take the financial hit, even as they soliloquize about how badly they feel about making tough choice.

In reality, the tough choices are the ones they didn’t make through the years, so we now face the hole we are in. What a wonderful name these people give to “public service.” But don’t worry, you will be rewarded. Wayward legislators may find a Dollar Bill in their future.

Sleep tight, John Celona and Gerard Martineau, wherever you are.

Quote of the Week

From legendary former 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, via Carol Felsenthal’s new book about finger-wagging, red-faced zipper boy Bill Clinton, Clinton in Exile, as noted in a New York Times’ review of the book on April 28:

“[Monica Lewinsky] did more to change the world than Cleopatra,” Hewitt said, noting that had Billary not screwed the pooch, er, intern, while in office and put a knife into the Democrats 2000 presidential chances, “there’s not one kid who has died in Iraq who wouldn’t be alive today.”

And yet we seriously consider putting his partner in crime, Hillary, and the whole sordid, self-serving mess that is the Clintons back into the White House? Or four (or 100?) more years of Bush-shit via “Dubya” McCain?

Stop the madness and vote for Obama, who offers what we need most — true change from the past, which got us into the sad state the country is in.

Publishers Weekly

Web Pick of the Week

Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House
Carol Felsenthal. Morrow, $25.95 (400p) ISBN 9780061231599

Taking on former President Bill Clinton, the perennial object of America’s love-hate fascination, biographer and political journalist Felsenthal (Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant) finds a perfect jumping-off point in Clinton’s exit from office, following a scandalous second term, impeachment by the House and George W. Bush’s Presidential victory. Chronicling the week of Clinton’s transition from President to civilian, through readjustments to suburban New York, working in Harlem, fighting heart disease and supporting Hillary (in the Senate and on the Presidential campaign trail), readers witness a beleaguered “Bubba” rebuild his identity, public and private. Felsenthal uses extensive research and new interviews to present Clinton ’s story in personal, insightful details; it reads like well-done fiction, starring Clinton as a plucky, unlikely underdog, wildly popular elsewhere in the world while facing an uphill battle at home. Felsenthal is a skilled interviewer, evincing deft moments of revelation; his friend Tom Kean recalls introducing Clinton, shortly after his heart surgery, to a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd: “You could see the color come back into his face…it was almost like somebody had done something for him medically.” Felsenthal’s own well-considered analysis adds depth, taking in the whole of Clinton ’s career: “It’s as if the missteps and the pain of his presidency were necessary to forge this enormously impressive post presidential product.” Anyone curious, but especially those who remain fans, will enjoy Felsenthal’s look at Clinton ’s post-presidency. (May)


Rocky Mountain News

Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House
By Cathie Beck, Special to the Rocky
Thursday, May 22, 2008

* Nonfiction. By Carol Felsenthal. William Morrow, $25.95. Grade: B+

Book in a nutshell: In this look at President Bill Clinton's life post-presidency, Felsenthal examines what drove - and continues to drive - the very public and media-savvy man. Through interviews with 300 Clinton colleagues, friends and detractors, she sheds light on the motivations and misgivings of the former president, pulling back the curtain on a leader who has been simultaneously labeled brilliant and reckless.

Felsenthal notes that once out of office, Clinton floundered in his new world, now devoid of limos and swarming Secret Service agents. Uncertain how to spend his time, he conferred with colleagues, friends and family, voicing his anxiety about how his post-presidency would shake out and whether any new efforts could ever negate the Lewinsky legacy. Friends reveal that he deeply regretted he hadn't been president on Sept. 11, 2001, for the opportunity to rise to the level of other great leaders as well as overshadow the Lewinsky scandal.

The author details the many job offers Clinton considered - some completely out of left field (was he really qualified to head a Hollywood studio?). She also covers Cinton's various relationships, including his strained friendship with Al Gore, smoothed over on 9/11 when the two were thrown together and spent the wee hours mending fences.

Best tidbit: The book doesn't overlook the complexity of Clinton's family life, but includes a tender moment observed by a friend at party: "When Elton (John) started to play, (Bill) came over and sat next to Hillary and . . . underneath the table they're holding hands, not for public view, just the two of them and Chelsea came over and sat on her father's lap. . . . Forget about the psychology of horsing around that went on in his life; they have an enormously close connection and it's really a very tender one."

Pros: The author has a gentle, engaging style, alternating between dishy People-magazine anecdotes and deeply introspective comments from those who spent years with Clinton and seem to finally understand why certain events took place.

Cons: She sometimes drives her points home with too many repetitive quotes.

Final word: These insights about a man who is, by all accounts, a superb political machine are all the more interesting as we watch Clinton in action, stumping for his wife.

Subscribe to the Rocky Mountain News


Washington Examiner

Author: Clinton ‘covets’ Nobel Peace Prize
POSTED April 25, 3:05 AM

That Jimmy Carter — a man with whom he has strained relations — won a Nobel Prize makes Bill Clinton “want one all the more”; and when Al Gore won his in 2007, “Clinton’s need for one grew exponentially.”

So writes Carol Felsenthal in “Exile in Chief,” her new book on President Clinton’s post-presidential years.

Some of his political allies think his day will come. “[The Clinton Global Initiative] is going to win him a Nobel Peace Prize one of these days,” said former Rep. Tom Downey, D-N.Y.

But Hofstra history professor Stanislao Pugliese told Felsenthal that Clinton’s motives are upside down, saying that his efforts in Africa are geared toward “angling for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

But columnist Michael Barone thinks Clinton has another factor on his side: “If the … Norwegians think that they could give a poke in the eye to a Republican administration by giving Bill Clinton a prize, I’m sure they’d be happy to do it. That’s why Carter got his.”

Felsenthal also writes that after Clinton’s memoirs got a lukewarm reception, he’s been eager to revisit his story. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley suggests he seek out a “left-of-center kind of scholar, who could really do a nice job explaining the president to people. But nobody would want to enter that if President Clinton is going to whitewash all the warts out of his biography.”

Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of Media Merchant
'Click here to buy book at Amazon' 'Click here to buy book at Barnes & Noble'
Si Newhouse 1-Chicago Tribune Si Newhouse3-Business Week
Si Newhouse2-Chicago Sun-Times Si Newhouse4-Barron's
Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story
'Click here to buy book at Amazon' 'Click here to buy book at Barnes & Noble'
KG 1-The New Yorker KG 9-Steve Neal, Chicago Sun-Times
KG 2-Cosmo KG 10-Chicago Tribune
KG 3-Atlanta Journal-Constitution KG 11-The Washington Post
KG 4-Chicago Sun-Times KG 12-Orlando Sentinel
KG 5-The Boston Globe KG 13-The Washington Post bestseller list
KG 6-San Francisco Chronicle KG 14-advertisement from The New York Times
KG 7-Detriot News-Free Press KG 15-Denver Post
KG 8-Miami Herald  
Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth
'Click here to buy book at Amazon' 'Click here to buy book at Barnes & Noble'
A.R.L. 1-Saavy A.R.L. 9-Time magazine
A.R.L. 2-San Francisco Chronicle A.R.L. 10-The Des Moines Register
A.R.L. 3-The Boston Globe A.R.L. 11-The Los Angeles Times
A.R.L. 4-Chicago Sun-Times A.R.L. 12-Chicago Tribune bestseller list
A.R.L. 5-Chicago Tribune A.R.L. 13-advertisement from The New York Times
A.R.L. 6-The Philadelphia Inquirer A.R.L. 14-The New York Times book Review
A.R.L. 7-New York Newsday A.R.L. 15-Colonial Homes
A.R.L. 8-The Houston Post  






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