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Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair,Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair, The Death of American Virtue is a gripping chronicle of an ever-escalating political feeding frenzy.In exclusive interviews, Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal, and many more key players offer candid reflections on that period. Drawing on never-before-released records and documents—including the Justice Department’s internal investigation into Starr, new details concerning the death of Vince Foster, and evidence from lawyers on both sides—Gormley sheds new light on a dark and divisive chapter, the aftereffects of which are still being felt in today’s political climate....

Title : The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr
Author :
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ISBN : 9780307409447
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 800 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr Reviews

  • Alan
    2019-04-07 18:15

    I have just finished reading Joe Gormley's book, "The Death of American Virtue: Clinton Vs. Starr."This book is surely the definitive account of the sad saga in U.S. history known as the Lewinsky scandal. Ken Gormley, a law professor, interviewed almost all the principle players in the drama (including some now deceased) -- President Clinton, Ken Starr and his wife, Lewinsky as well as both her parents, other prosecutors and judges, Linda Tripp, Susan McDougall, Webster Hubbell, Lew Merletti, head of the Secret Service, Henry Hyde and many many others. The only people who apparently declined the opportunity to speak to him were Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. This book is exhaustive and exhausting but ultimately tremendously rewarding. Gormley has a flair for the dramatic. His descriptions of court scenes, the impeachment trial itself, the depositions and other background discussions read as if they come from the pages of a thriller. One knows the end -- but one is still gripped. This is also a fair book. All of the main characters are given ample time to reflect and their views are fairly recounted. We get Clinton's extensive musings and his perspective years later, but also that of Starr and the other chief prosecutors. Gormely also explodes a few minor bombshells. We learn that an investigation into the conduct of the Starr prosecutors concluded they had far overstepped their legal bounds in their first interrogation of Monica Lewinsky. They ignored her repeated requests to speak to her lawyer, bludgeoning her with crude threats of 27 years in prison while bringing her to the brink of mental collapse. Republican judges quashed the report and managed to keep it sealed to protect the privacy of the prosecutors who themselves had totally trashed the privacy of their victims. This was not the only case of prosecutorial misconduct by the Starr team who in general comported themselves like bullies and thugs unbound by legal constraint, trampling over the privacy and rights of their victims while conducting their legal vendetta against the president. We also learn about the strange and sinister death in prison of Jim McDougall, the rogue that set the Whitewater scandal in motion. McDougall was seriously mentally ill and a substance abuser -- also a crook and serial liar who would say anything to advance himself. But he did not deserve to die in a prison hole of medical neglect from a prison staff that was criminally negligent. His medical file strangely "disappeared" and was never recovered. Years later, a prison psychologist revealed that he had received a strange visit from an official invesigator who threatened him not to reveal what he knew. None of the characters of this awful saga emerge looking very good. Clinton still refuses to take full responsibility for his serial womanizing, some of which comes across as crude sexual harrasment if not outright abuse. I was angry at Clinton at the time for wasting the opportunity history had given him to be a truly significant president. He was and remains a self-indulgent man with a vast sense of entitlement. Never in this book did I feel remotely sympathetic toward him. Starr comes over as a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou crusader willing to do anything to bring the president down. Starr had acted as a legal adviser to Paula Jones before being appointed as special prosecutor, giving him a clear conflict of interest. He was clearly motivated by politics. Yet Starr was a "moderate" among the group of far-right zealots he hired as his senior prosecutors. Lewinsky comes across as a victim. Sure, she made a big mistake but she was just a kid who deluded herself into thinking she was in love with a much older man who ought to have known better. She did not deserve to be hounded, trashed and victimized in the way that she was. Susan McDougall, who went to jail for 18 months rather than telling Starr what he wanted to hear, is one of the few heroines of the story. One thing that emerges clearly from this book is that when Hillary Clinton spoke of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" out to bring down her husband -- words that I had always previously dismissed as political hyperbole -- she was in fact speaking nothing less than the truth. Conservative financiers, judges, newspapers, activists, legislators, publicists, general trouble-makers and prosecutors, all motivated by acute hatred of the 42nd president, combined to bring about this crisis. The author demonstrates that numerous opportunities to settle the case honorably were sabotaged by right-wing extremists determined to press the scandal to a crisis and so depose a twice democratically-elected president. So what was this all about in the end? Henry Hyde, himself an adulterer, who managed the House of Representatives "case" (if it can be called such) against Clinton took comfort in the fact that "were in not for the impeachment, George W. Bush would not have been elected president" in 2000. So we can thank Mr. Starr for eight years of Bush, the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina and our massive national debt. Thanks a lot Ken.

  • Jerome
    2019-03-28 20:25

    It's often been a goal of mine the past ten years to really read about what I call modern presidential events. Historically speaking, we could look back to many American presidents of the past and ring off their personal scandals or major events hitting them personally in their time in office. The Petticoat Affair with Andrew Jackson, the Credit Mobilier Scandal in Grant's term, The Teapot Dome Scandal, etc. And why is that fact? Because so much has been written on these particular events, over and over again. What about the modern events? Not much is or can be written about them, because the results and effects are still being made out as it takes time to develop an opinion, lasting years after the event.The journey for me began with taking a close look at the Iran-Contra Affair of 1986, yes Reagan and old Ollie North (and don't say I'm skipping Watergate, much has been written on that event). Well, what is next in line? What is the big event of the 1990s, the Clinton Presidency, the personal scandal/event hitting that presidency and the president in particular? Think no further than the Lewinsky scandal, of course. The only limiting factor of the scandal is that it occurred in 1998. For much of the early 21st century, not much could be written about the second term scandal, because it was still so fresh in our minds.With this book coming out in 2010, however, Gormley does a great job at interacting with the (living) key characters and researching the thousands of documents to tell a complete story of the power of this scandal. And I feel that with it being a good ten years since the event (I consider that Gormley really pieced the work together in 2008) there has been enough time to let the dust settle and look back with an in-depth mindset and curiosity. And it doesn't matter what your stance on a President's policies are, you should just look at the facts and the actual events that occurred. Additionally, love him or hate him, Clinton's actions certainly brought about a change in politics.Gormley takes the numerous facts and events, and writes a good tale with all of them. Taking it one step further, he decides to jump back all the way to Clinton's early Arkansas days (thus causing this book to balloon to an 800+ pages). Interestingly, he starts with comparing Clinton and Bart Starr, a la Lincoln and Davis, before turning another way with a close look at Clinton's personal escapades during his political service. Gormley keeps an even unbiased approach, not taking sides. There is also a fascinating conclusion at the end, extra information that no one could have predicted until at least 2004. Ultimately that analysis is what gets me and lead me to finish the work in its entirety, that analysis being the scandal's affect on the 2000 election. But you have to get to the end to understand it all. So much detailed information (you can see Ken Gormley serves in a law school) and so many facts cause one to really get involved in the work. Yet don't worry, Gormley provides about four sections of pictures to accompany you along the way.If you lived through the scandal especially, this is a nice reflection on the event.And for the record, what jumps out at me in the 2000s decade, the Bush Presidency, will be Dick Cheney, but that's another review forthcoming.

  • Kathleen Gilroy
    2019-03-31 19:31

    I heard the author being interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air and decided I had to read this book. Gormley has gone back and interviewed every living person who was involved in the Clinton vs. Starr matter, and he got candid answers from both Clinton and Starr. The story starts with the Whitewater real estate deal and moves through Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the impeachment. I learned many things that I didn't know or didn't recall -- that Whitewater matter was largely concluded by the special prosecutor when a three judge panel removed Robert Fiske and replaced him with Kenneth Starr and that Starr was probably an inappropriate selection because he had written a brief in the Paula Jones case and had advised some of Clinton's opponents. The story of the first Lewinsky interview by the FBI is harrowing, as is the story of Susan MacDougal who spent 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before Starr's grand jury. Gormley draws no firm conclusions. He lets his readers make their own judgments about what happened based on his interviews with all of the players. This was one of those non-fiction books that is a gripping page turner. It is the most costly book I've downloaded for the Kindle but well worth the price.

  • Nannie Bittinger
    2019-03-27 13:39

    Well researched, interesting and seemed to be fairly presented but in the end, I had to quit. It was ust making me sick to read about these political types trying to see what they can get away with and everything is someone else's fault. I felt like I should take a shower! YUCK! No reflection on the author's talent intended. I'm not sure if that era was 'the Death of American Virtue' (Did it ever exist?)but it is certainly when the news media started publishing the obituary!

  • Ryan Curell
    2019-04-24 17:15

    More than a decade after its climax, the Clinton v. Starr episode in American history probably conjures up no more than a few spicy jokes to any more than a handful of people. World events and the troubled presidencies following Clinton's have made it easier to reflect on better times under his watch, and the legal imbroglios of both Clintons have been largely obscured by taboo actions between the forty-second president and an intern.In completing this massive tome that strives for neutrality in untangling the complex scandals, I came to new and/or revised conclusions about Kenneth Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton.1) Motivations on both sides were exacerbated by strong emotions and rushed judgment. In short, a lot of bad outcomes resulted from very stupid decisions by virtually everyone involved.2) Monica Lewinsky was a young woman caught in a situation that she could not possibly have fully understood. However woeful her actions, no one should really care all that much what she did behind closed doors with another consenting adult; however, most everyone should care if that behavior behind closed doors snowballed into unlawful actions (i.e., a job for silence, signing a false affidavit), which no evidence exists to suggest this happened. In short, she's a sympathetic - if mildly pathetic - character who was, along with the president's wife and daughter, publicly humiliated.3) Clinton was a popular leader who, despite his political opposition and the near-constant din resulting from legal matters, came into his own as president. Sadly, his second term collapsed by completely avoidable and frankly stupid behavior that squandered his mandate - particularly his ability to bring attention to important world events. The full attention of American media zeroed in on people and minutia related to tawdry riffraff, thus distracting the entire world from matters of true importance. As much as he wants to spend the rest of his life shaping his legacy and blaming the overzealousness of Starr and the OIC, Clinton and his fans must never be able to deny that his questionable behavior largely set everything in motion. A politician will always have detractors, though detractors can't spend five years whistling dixie, investigating you for no good reason.4) Whitewater is about the most boring goose chase ever to involve a sitting president, about as fascinating as a trip to Des Moines. The larger-than-life Jim McDougal is the only person who made the whole episode even mildly sufferable, and his death in prison was an odd, unfortunate and unnecessary end to his life. Not to excuse the illegalities performed by McDougal, but the thing he was most guilty of was being a goofball.5) Kenneth Starr remains this story's biggest mystery. Though a man of deep religious and political convictions, it seems his investigation was not motivated by either; however, his exceptional legal career did not equip him to investigate the president, and his shortcomings in this regard made up for a series of blunders that hurt his office and his reputation. Mix this with the nefarious characters in the OIC and/or those helping the investigation, and you have a big ugly cluster of a mess.6) Politics is dirty. Any side trying to claim innocence on that score is being less than honest with you. It doesn't take 789 pages to understand that.

  • Jack
    2019-04-03 13:14

    This is THE book on the Clinton scandal(s). It's as even-handed as one can be. Gormley thoroughly analyses all that went into the scandals of the Clinton years, how they were investigated, and how the President and his team responded to all of that. One really gets a sense of how good we had it in the 1990s: we could actually fight ruthlessly over what a guy did with his penis, all the while knowing that many of the people going after the guy with the uncontrollable penis could not control their own penises. This really was a political sausage fest. Now we fight over terrorism, wars, massive deficits, etc. Kind of hard to believe we all took the penis thing so seriously in light of our more difficult worldly situation. A few other things. Ken Starr wasn't the horrible person he was made out to be by others. Sure, a right winger of far right proportions, but seems to have done his job with an underappreciated fairness. He had real flaws, though: he was a HORRIBLE manager who did not focus on this task like he should have. He also filled the office with people who clearly were anti-Clinton (but then, aren't prosecutors usually "anti" whoever they're investigating?). You know who really IS a horrible person? Linda Tripp. There wasn't one thing in this book about her that made me like her even a little. I read this book along with a ideologically diverse crowd, and no one - left, right, or middle - seemed to think she was even slightly decent. Paula Jones? Ick. And although I like Bill Clinton in a lot of ways, all of the nonsense of this book came about because he couldn't control himself. It really is amazing considering he KNEW people were after him. The Gormley could have better covered the impeachment trial, but "The Breach," which came out in late 90s/early 00s, does that just fine.

  • Aaron Million
    2019-04-02 16:14

    Riveting book about the scandals that engulfed, and threatened to derail, the Clinton presidency. Gormley interviewed almost every major player involved in the Whitewater, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky scandals. Gormley does a superb job at deftly narrating and interweaving each of the sordid messes that resulted in a House impeachment of Clinton. Gormley steers clear of giving opinions, and does not take a side throughout this 690 page tome. He lets the facts speak for themselves - and gives equal treatment to Independent Counsel Kenneth Star and his fellow prosecutors, as well as to the entire Clinton White House, and also to Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the McDougals. It is painful to realize how much time and money was taken up by this giant mess, when 9/11 occurred in the not-too-distant future.

  • Mike
    2019-04-05 14:31

    Good comprehensive account of Clintons legal problems. Show the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Starr was knowledgeable, but he was not wise. One of Mr. Gormley's other subjects, Archibald Cox, was both knowledgable and wise. I thought the title a little overwrought. I think it's interesting that no one treasure's their experience in this matter. Only regrets. The only hero I saw was the Arkansan who made the speech on the floor of the senate. He is the one who had the bet handle on the problem. As a member of the unwashed masses, I can say that the folks who spun got drilled.

  • John
    2019-03-30 13:32

    Well written book by a law professor on the whole Paula Jones/Clinton/Lewinsky/Kenneth Starr business.Very well written and very informative. The author doesn't seem to side with anyone in particular: he is very even-handed. I think his opinion is expressed in the title -- no one involved exhibited any admirable traits. After half paying attention to each turn in the story back when it occurred, it is interesting to have all the details in one coherent picture.

  • Marc
    2019-03-28 19:22

    An exhaustive look at the Whitewater and impeachment cycle. Well researched yet not overly dry in its style. A depressing look at a contributing factor in the rise of partisanship in Congress that overrode desires for comity amongst a few of the level-headed members serving at the time.

  • Jim
    2019-04-06 13:34

    This is a fascinating look at the long face-off between Bill Clinton and Ken Starr. This reads like a novel and you will look at all the protagonists in a different way after reading this. An impartial look at a turbulent time in US history.

  • Ashley
    2019-04-08 15:22

    Breathless. This book left me breathless; I was always in a rush to read the next page, the next chapter. No wonder nearly everyone spoke to the author, they could trust him to write an even-handed and balanced account. Wow, what an amazing read.

  • Mary
    2019-04-06 16:26

    Although I thought I had followed this episode closely at the time, most of what is revealed in this excellent book was new to me. It is a horrifying tale of a turning point in American history, when partisan politics became so toxic that the president was pursued into a closet in an effort to unseat him. Laws were repeatedly broken in the guise of upholding the law. One wonders why anyone would want to be a politician after witnessing this persecution. And one’s faith in the rule of law is utterly destroyed by this story. The only saving grace is that the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the way the president was treated and few supported the effort to force him out of office. The author of this book has done a remarkable job with this complex undertaking. He interviewed everyone at length and he tells the story in a consistently engaging way. Although he remains sympathetic to Starr to the end, he also makes it clear that he made many grave errors and was irresponsible for taking so long with the investigation because he viewed it as a part-time job.

  • Rachy
    2019-04-12 13:36

    I'm not sure everyone would be interested in reading nearly 700 pages (plus a 100 pages of footnotes) on the Clinton Scandal(s), but this is THE BOOK to learn about what really happened. All the major participants were interviewed from Ken Starr and Henry Hyde to Bill Clinton and Susan McDougal. No one comes across as a villain or a hero, because unlike what the media reported, the story is not that black and white. Even though many people think they already know everything there is to know, a lot of new and interesting information is revealed, including the strange and mysterious death of Jim McDougal in prison to the sealed investigation into misconduct by the Starr prosecutors. But the sad part is how different history would be if none of this had happened. Henry Hyde said it best at the end, "If it were not for the impeachment, George W. Bush would not have been elected president."

  • Devin
    2019-03-31 18:39

    An incredibly interesting and very _thorough_ telling of the scandals which plagued the Clinton administration (Whitewater, "troopergate", and primarily the Lewinsky affair). Gormley managed to secure interviews with nearly all of the people involved from every side of these events, and the research is presented with an eye towards objectivity.As someone who was a teenager when the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal happened, reading this book as an adult provided an amazingly robust understanding of the deeper political contexts in which these events happened, rather that just rehashing the broad strokes (Cigar, Blue Dress, etc etc).Very highly recommended, just make sure you're prepared for a deep dive on this one.

  • David Snashall
    2019-04-15 13:15

    Fantastic book about these dramatic events in recent history. The cast of "zany" characters involved, like Jim McDougall and his wife Susan, Linda Tripp, Bill Ginsberg, not to mention Monica, Bill & Hilary, make this saga into something of a soap opera. They were pitted against the zealots of the OIC overseen by the hapless Ken Starr, who allowed his staff to run his show. I hope someone has bought the rights to the story as it would make an excellent House of Cards style mini series.Ken Gormley has done a great job, it kept me riveted for all 700 pages. Given the stylish and interesting writing style, I assumed he was a journalist and was amazed to find out he is in fact a law professor. One of the best books I have read for some time.

  • Amy
    2019-04-22 19:24

    I was loathe to jump into this subject matter again, having lived through the media horror show when it happened; but the author, through exhaustive research, interviews with almost all the players (except Hillary), and fantastic writing made it not only palatable, but a riveting and completely addicting read. I learned a lot and got a much deeper perspective on that whole episode in our nation's history. My only caveat is that his descriptions at two points in the book of federal Judge Susan Webber Wright were borderline lascivious, and definitely unnecessary. Other than that, I highly recommend this book.

  • C. Wallace Wallace DeWitt
    2019-04-22 13:09

    Few writers could delve into a subject as fraught as l’affaire Lewinsky with Mr. Gormley’s grace, fair-mindedness, erudition, and patriotic shame, let alone any law professors. The book’s jacket puts it succinctly: “Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton.” My review is available here.

  • Rob
    2019-04-12 13:39

    The moral of this story, from my reading, is that you should be honest when consulting with your lawyer. If either Ms. Lewinsky or Mr. Clinton had been honest with their respective attorneys, their attorneys would have kept them out of the legal trouble that ultimately occured. If Clinton's attorney knew of the relationship he wouldn't have permitted Clinton to make misleading statements at the deposition. Likewise Lewinsky's attorney wouldn't have let her sign the affidavit denying a sexual relationship if she had told him the truth.

  • Mary Ronan Drew
    2019-04-16 20:13

    This book went back to the library unfinished along with Susan Schmidt's Truth at Any Cost, which I didn't even start. Gormley's book appears from the 100 or so pages I read to be scrupulously balanced but it was too painful to read about the sleaze and grime of the second Clinton administration. I had to live through it and once is enough.I didn't give it any stars because I didn't read enough of it to really judge and it would be unfair to give it only one star because I didn't like the subject matter.

  • Barb Moore
    2019-04-12 16:32

    This engaging, in-depth examination of the Whitewater investigation and ensuing impeachment is almost impossible to put town--over 700 pages, and we all know how it comes out, but it is a real page-turner! The people involved pop to life in the text, with close descriptions of their actions and motivations at the time, and with reflective statements from interviews long after the events. The intransigence of the opposing parties may not have been born here, but certainly came of age during these events. An essential read for anyone interested in American politics, current events or history.

  • Marti Garlett
    2019-04-01 20:21

    This is a first-rate legal thriller, and though nonfiction, it reads like a novel whose plot you think you don't know, yet of course you do. It is a balanced, thoroughly researched book that leaves the conclusions about which are the heroes up to its readers. My opinion: nobody in this sorry saga, this national nightmare, is a hero. bad decisions, poor judgment all the way around. It truly describes the loss of American virtue with all players pretty sure of their righteousness a decade hence. I highly recommend this book.

  • Jared
    2019-04-16 20:28

    The most striking thing about this book is how well it reads. While I read a bunch of history books, I hardly ever say to myself, "I could not put it down." Here, however, I am glad to say that I could not put this book down. The subject matter is very interesting and the writing is just first-rate. This is history at its best--extremely well written, balanced and well-reasoned, and completely leaves no stone unturned. This is a must read for anyone who might be interested in the Clinton Wars of the 90s.

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-08 18:39

    A surprising page-turner! Who knew you could plow through a 690 page book about the many trials and tribulations of the Clinton dynasty. A very objective, informative, and fascinating read that I highly recommend. That guy Gormley can write.(I also learned quite a bit about Ken Starr, who I still think is a misguided Puritan - not a good trait for a lawyer, especially the one who becomes the Independent Council prosecuting Bill Clinton. What a train wreck.)

  • Washington Post
    2019-04-20 16:30

    Gormley's signal contribution is his heroic evenhandedness. "The Death of American Virtue" is a restrained, fair-minded, soup-to-nuts history of the largely fruitless investigations of Bill Clinton that shadowed so much of his presidency. All but the most unregenerate partisans should deem this book fair. The book made our top 10 list for 2010.Read David Greenberg's rave review here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

  • Mark Ehlers
    2019-04-12 19:30

    Outstanding book. This is the most authoritative account yet of the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations. The author had access to virtually all of the key sources (Clinton, Starr, Lewinsky, the OIC prosecutors, Clinton's lawyers, Susan McDougal, etc.) and the book is hard to put down. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the culture of division and hatred that is Washington today.

  • Brian Sandor
    2019-03-26 18:35

    A fantastic book on a sordid subject. Extremely detailed and extremely readable. It deals with the entire Clinton scandals that lead up to the impeachment: Whitewater, Paula Jones v. Clinton, Monica and the Starr investigation. It is very balanced and addresses all sides affected through tons of interviews with most of the principals involved. It is the definitive book on the matter.

  • Peter Lindstrom
    2019-04-21 14:10

    Yes, Gromley has bombshell revelations (mostly about Ken Starr personally & his office's conduct during the investigation) along with new information, the book also can be a slog though a period many of us would like to forget but it is worth reading if only to prevent another such circus that does nothing to improve our nation & much to create district & discord.

  • Drtaxsacto
    2019-04-22 14:29

    This is a very good book about Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr. It is well researched and puts neither in very good light. But it goes through in great detail about how these two figures interacted during the Clinton probes.

  • Austin
    2019-04-25 16:33

    Fascinating read. Having lived through that history, it was really interesting to read it from a different perspective in my life: As a prosecutor, it was really intriguing to see how my "colleagues" handled things.