cover image Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump

Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump

Kate Anderson Brower. Harper, $28.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-266897-4

Journalist Brower (The Residence) examines the post–White House lives of Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama in this illuminating and anecdote-laden account. Opening with an Oval Office interview with President Trump (in a “buoyant, exuberant mood” after the release of the Mueller Report), Brower then lists the “unwritten rules” that guide relationships between ex-presidents (“avoid criticizing the sitting president at all costs”; “come together for celebrations”) and details “unexpected friendships” between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush (former first lady Barbara Bush called them “the odd couple”) and between George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She describes the processes of transferring the White House from one occupant to the next and of building a presidential library, and quotes former first ladies and presidents on the surreal experience of returning to civilian life. Though Trump once “desperately wanted” to earn the approval of his predecessors, Brower writes, he has since “disparaged all the former living presidents” and seems unconcerned “that he will be an outcast from the Presidents Club.” Brower maintains a light touch throughout, highlighting moments of accord rather than division and offering little in the way of analysis. Presidential history buffs will enjoy this respectful peek into one of America’s most exclusive clubs. [em](May) [/em]