Summary and book reviews of All Too Human by George Stephanopoulos

All Too Human

A Political Education

By George Stephanopoulos

All Too Human
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  • Hardcover: Mar 1999,
    255 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2000,
    255 pages.

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Book Summary

"So this is it. This is how the big guys talk to each other. I'd been behind my share of closed doors on Capitol Hill, but this was different -- more self-conscious, almost cinematic, as if everyone was aware of playing a part in a drama that was being written as they spoke. This was the classic smoke-filled room, minus the smoke. I watched and listened and tried to look cool, too dumbstruck to say a sensible word and half-convinced that somebody would look up any minute and say, 'Hey, what are you doing here?' "

For four years in the White House and one year of campaigning before that, George Stephanopoulos was rarely more than a few steps from Bill Clinton. As the President's Senior Adviser, he saw it all - the endless arguments, the back hall scheming, the protracted decisions, the last minute flip flops that somehow produced real accomplishments, but also set in motion an almost tragic series of events that placed the fate of the President in the hands of the Senate. Now, with the natural ease of a born storyteller and the sensitive eye for fine detail of a novelist, Stephanopoulos tells an extraordinarily gripping story of human foible and frailty in high places that is destined to be one of the great political memoirs of our times.

When Stephanopoulos first met Bill Clinton in September of 1991, he was 30, and like so many others before and since, he was dazzled by the brilliance, charisma, lofty ambitions and astonishing empathy of this remarkably gifted man. Here was the perfect star for an ambitious young man to hitch himself to, yet little did he anticipate what an amazing roller coaster ride it would be - both for the administration and for Stephanopoulos. Throughout the chaos and camaraderie, the breathtaking triumphs and disasters, Stephanopoulos clung to the vision of what a Clinton Presidency could be, even as he began to see the hidden, dark compartments in the man that would bring him and the nation to such grief.

In addition to the complex portrait of the President, here are brilliant, nuanced sketches of all the key players, including Al Gore, Dick Morris, and Hillary Clinton, whose combative, litigator instincts were, sadly, behind many of her husband's missteps. Here too is a candid, sometimes merciless, self-portrait of the author, whose drives, vanities, and insecurities, along with everyone else's, peppered the playing field of the biggest game in town. All Too Human is a book for the ages.

Days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke in January 1998, I had a dream about President Clinton: I had returned to the White House after a year away, and I was sitting in my usual chair just next to the presidents desk in the Oval Office, prepping him for an interview with CBS News. Seems like old times, I thought, its good to be back. But moments before the interview was scheduled to start, we got word of some vague but terrible tragedy. The whole country would soon know about it, and the president would need to respond. I pulled out my notepad and struggled to scratch out appropriate words of consolation and hope. Nothing came, but it didn't matter. Clinton did what he always seemed to do so well at times like this, saying exactly the right thing, in exactly the right way. He's still got it--best politician I've ever seen. Then I walked across the Oval, opened a door, and found myself in a pocket-sized room--windowless and bare, except for nude pinups of Monica pasted ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The New Yorker - Jeffrey Frank

...Stephanopoulos is a unique witness, and his gossipy, detailed recollections give a disturbing picture not only of Bill Clinton but of the modern White House--a place of mood swings, improvisation, office intrigue, and chaos. His book is also a portrait of an ambitious Presidential aide who was a little too conscious of how he was playing.

People Magazine

[A]s a knowing, slightly cynical treatise on modern politics, All Too Human really hums....a classic morality tale.

Reader Reviews
SB Rfowe

Is this country becoming impossible to govern?? The White House is pictured as a "fun house" poised in the center of a Merry-Go-Round. The media has encircled the principles who never know who or what will jump out at them from behind the hidden ...   Read More

Kimberly Romero

I am an 18 year old who loves this book! I will admit that at first I wasn't sure I would be interested. However, I was addicted right away. This book keeps me interested, the way Mr. Stephanopoulos words his sentences and how he is very descriptive....   Read More

Charles Rollins

A great book. Sometimes a little honesty in this political world is what we all need. Revealing and insightful, a clear and chilling glimpse into the Clinton administration.

Anonymous
Carol Dixon
This fascinating, well written book gives a scary insight to the Clinton White House. Stephanopoulos does a pretty fair job presenting the foibles and virtues of everyone involved. It's a valuable first hand account.

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