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The Clinton Tapes

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This is not meant as a criticism so much as a heads-up for readers who decide to dive into this book.

Branch seems like a trustworthy guide not only to Clinton’s actual words, but also to his emotions as he spoke those words. Most of Branch’s editorial comments are respectful of Clinton. But Branch is not afraid to occasionally tell readers that, at a certain moment, Clinton seemed overly tired or a captive of wishful thinking or downright deluded.
Branch was not a blank slate when the sessions began. He and Clinton had become friendly in 1972, and even roomed together for a time, while seeking votes in Texas for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. Although Branch and Clinton had not seen each other for 20 years when the White House taping began, they retained a bond that could fairly be termed friendship.

Careful not to oversell the book, Branch says it “sits somewhere between politics, journalism and history.... I did not try to evaluate Clinton’s version of complex events, and this first-person presentation makes me a participant in a memoir ... gathering testimony from one central actor in American politics.” Clinton’s accounts, Branch adds, “are revealing but not conclusive. If they jar perceptions of Clinton or his presidency, healthy debate among citizens can repair mistakes and dispel even durable myths.”

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