THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T TALK

Susan McDougal, Author, Susan Macdougal, Author, Pat Harris, With with Pat Harris. Carroll & Graf $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1128-4

"There were four people who knew what went on in Whitewater," McDougal explains in her wry memoir (cowritten with a close friend and legal advisor). "Two of them were in the White House," and not about to talk, while McDougal's ex-husband, Jim, lacked credibility, leaving her as the sole credible witness. The problem was that nobody in the media or the office of independent counsel Ken Starr wanted to hear what she had to say: that Whitewater was just "a stupid land deal that went bad," and the McDougals weren't all that close to the Clintons anyway. McDougal offers up her full life story, including an Arkansas childhood and the raunchy antics of the Clinton-run statehouse, and details her turbulent marriage to Jim McDougal, exacerbated by his long-undiagnosed manic–depression. But she knows that readers want to learn about—her experiences being grilled, then jailed for contempt for refusing to give Starr his smoking gun—and she lays on the horrific details with righteous fury. She also recalls positive experiences with fellow inmates and supportive friends (and strangers) on her way to eventual vindication, and looks back on her travails with humor. Several personalities around "Clintongate" rushed their books out to take advantage of their fleeting notoriety and, in some cases, the rising anti-Clinton tide; McDougal's delay gives her account a historical and emotional perspective many of her predecessors lacked. Still, with Clinton out of the White House and the public's attention turned on Iraq, this book's sales may suffer from bad timing. Eight pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Jan. 20)

Reviewed on: 11/11/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7867-1302-8
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