Friday, June 23, 2017

The Presidents Club:Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs (author), Michael Duffy (author), Bob Walter (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442350311, April 2012

The Presidents Club is real. It had an official founding (after Eisenhower's inauguration, when Truman and Hoover agreed on it), and over the years has acquired a newsletter, a clubhouse, and a variety of perks as well as the responsibility of being there when the sitting President needs them. Only other people who've held the office truly understand its pressures and demands; in that sense they are sometimes the only source of truly informed advice.

And sometimes, a former President is the best or the only appropriate emissary for a trip the President can't make himself.

The authors do an excellent job of reconstructing and recounting the history of the club. Interviews with several of the presidents of the last thirty years, as well as aides, family members, and colleagues, help make this rich in detail and insight. We get to know he club members from Hoover onward. We get a real sense of their  strengths, weaknesses, and particular quirks, as well as both the rivalries and the unexpected friendships they formed.

It's a rich and well-informed narrative, told mostly chronologically, with divergences from that to follow up on themes and specifics where it seems appropriate. In addition to the strong writing, the narrator has a strong, clear voice, making for good listening even in traffic.  I learned a lot, and enjoyed learning it.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.