In Search of Bill Clinton

A Psychological Biography

John D. Gartner

St. Martin's Press

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What makes Bill Clinton tick?

William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States is undoubtedly the greatest American enigma of our age -- a dark horse that captured the White House, fell from grace and was resurrected as an elder statesman whose popularity rises and falls based on the day’s sound bytes.  John Gartner's In Search of Bill Clinton unravels the mystery at the heart of Clinton’s complex nature and why so many people fall under his spell.  He tells the story we all thought we knew, from the fresh viewpoint of a psychologist, as he questions the well-crafted Clinton life story.  Gartner, a therapist with an expertise in treating individuals with hypomanic temperaments, saw in Clinton the energy, creativity and charisma that leads a hypomanic individual to success as well as the problems with impulse control and judgment, which frequently result in disastrous decision-making.  He knew, though, that if he wanted to find the real Bill Clinton he couldn’t rely on armchair psychology to provide the answer.  He knew he had to travel to Arkansas and around the world to talk with those who knew Clinton and his family intimately. With his boots on the ground, Gartner uncovers long-held secrets about Clinton's mother, the ambitious and seductive Virginia Kelley, her wild life in Hot Springs and the ghostly specter of his biological father, Bill Blythe, to uncover the truth surrounding Clinton’s rumor-filled birth.  He considers the abusive influence of Clinton's alcoholic stepfather, Roger Clinton, to understand the repeated public abuse he invited both by challenging a hostile Republican Congress and engaging in the clandestine affair with Monica Lewinsky that led to his downfall.  Of course, there is no marriage more dissected than that of the Clintons, both in the White House and on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign trail.  Instead of going down familiar paths, Gartner looks at that relationship with a new focus and clearly sees, in Hillary’s molding of Clinton into a more disciplined politician, the figure of Bill Clinton’s stern grandmother, Edith Cassidy, the woman who set limits on him at an early age.   Gartner brings Clinton’s story up to date as he travels to Ireland, the scene of one of Clinton’s greatest diplomatic triumphs, and to Africa, where his work with AIDS victims is unmatched, to understand Clinton’s current humanitarian persona and to find out why he is beloved in so much of the world while still scorned by many at home.   John Gartner’s exhaustive trip around the globe provides the richest portrait of Clinton yet, a man who is one of our national obsessions.  In Search of Bill Clinton is a surprising and compelling book about a man we all thought we knew.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
Like Mother, Like Son
VIRGINIAClinton is not as enigmatic as he might appear. Much of his behavior can be accounted for by the simplest and most commonsense psychological explanation of all: He takes after his mother.

As a psychologist, I knew I could never comprehend the man without understanding his parents. While Bill Clinton’s every move has been overreported, overexposed, and overanalyzed, Clinton biographers have, for the most part, accepted Virginia’s version of her life at face value, relying on her memoir, Leading with My Heart.

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Praise for In Search of Bill Clinton

"John Gartner's new book In Search of Bill Clinton will, I think, help solve the riddle of the forty-second President: how a man with such superhuman talent could risk his entire life's work, as he did over Monica Lewinsky. In a wonderfully engaging quest, Gartner - a highly-experienced therapist - does what no psychologist has bothered to do over the past two decades of Clinton-watching:  interview those who grew up with the man, and have intimate knowledge of his strengths and weaknesses. Written with lucidity, humor, compassion and amazing insight, it is a tour de force that not only helps explain one of the smartest yet complex men of our time, but shines a fascinating spotlight onto the problem of the super-gifted individual in our society. "   -- Nigel Hamilton author of "Bill Clinton: An American Journey” and “Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency"


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About the Author

John D. Gartner

John Gartner is a psychologist on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University. His book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in Armerica was named one of the notable new ideas of 2005 by The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Baltimore and New York.

John Gartner

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Available Formats and Book Details

In Search of Bill Clinton
A Psychological Biography
John D. Gartner

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
September 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429933544
ISBN10: 1429933542
480 pages, Includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
September 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312596835
ISBN10: 0312596839
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 496 pages, Includes one 16-page black-and-white photograph section
$22.99
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