cover image On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency

On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency

Elizabeth Drew. Simon & Schuster, $23.5 (462pp) ISBN 978-0-671-87147-5

For this taut, compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes look at the first 18 months of the Clinton presidency, Washington commentator Drew notes that she interviewed every high official in the White House, Cabinet officers, Capitol Hill staff and others. Although many of her sources remain anonymous, her report rings true in its portrayal of an indecisive, garrulous, reckless, self-indulgent, defensive, hot-tempered, but unusually intelligent president eager to tackle big domestic issues. A smooth performer, Clinton is nevertheless a learner and, in Drew's estimate, has accomplished a great deal thus far, including a large expansion of Head Start, NAFTA, the Brady bill, more affordable loans, and awakening the nation to focus on reform of the health care industry. Drew provides the fullest picture to date of the secretive process by which Clinton arrived at his byzantine health care plan. She discloses wrangling between Al Gore, ``the most influential Vice President in history,'' and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Author tour. (Nov.)