Summary and book reviews of A Vast Conspiracy by Jeffrey Toobin

A Vast Conspiracy

The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President

by Jeffrey Toobin

A Vast Conspiracy
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  • First Published:
    Dec 1999, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2000, 496 pages

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Book Summary

Casts an insightful, unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time -- the Clinton sex scandals.

In A Vast Conspiracy, the best-selling author of The Run of His Life casts an insightful, unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time -- the Clinton sex scandals. A superlative journalist known for the skillfulness of his investigating and the power of his writing, Jeffrey Toobin tells the unlikely story of the events that began over doughnuts in a Little Rock hotel and ended on the floor of the United States Senate, with only the second vote on Presidential removal in American history. This is an entirely fresh look at the scandal that very nearly brought down a president.

Packed with news-making disclosures and secret documents published here for the first time, Toobin unravels the three strands of a national scandal - those leading from Paula Jones, Kenneth Starr, and Monica Lewinsky - that created a legal, personal, and political disaster for Bill Clinton. A Vast Conspiracy is written with the narrative drive of a sensational (if improbable) legal thriller, and Toobin brilliantly explores the high principle and low comedy that were the hallmarks of the story. From Tripp to Goldberg, Isikoff to Hyde, the complex and tangled motivations behind the scandal are laid bare.

While misguided, outlandish behavior was played out at the very highest level, Toobin analyzes the facts and the key figures with a level of dignity and insight that this story has not yet received. The Clinton scandals will shape forever how we think about the signature issues of our day -- sex and sexual harassment, privacy and perjury, civil rights, and, yes, cigars. Toobin's book will shape forever how we think about the Clinton scandals.

From Chapter 17
"I Don't Care If I'm Impeached . . ."

For all the condemnation of Clinton's speech in the news media, the prosecution team didn't take any false optimism out of the events of August 17. In his grand jury testimony, the president had been more careful than in his deposition, seven months earlier.

Increasingly, the savvier members of the prosecution staff recognized that their entire case came down to the sex - whether the president had lied about it in his deposition and then in his grand jury testimony. In light of Clinton's refusal to answer certain questions, Bittman and Wisenberg had pinned him down as best they could. Before the grand jury, Clinton had repeated his position that as he understood the definition of sexual relations provided to him on January 18, he had not had such contacts with Lewinsky. Clinton had admitted to "inappropriate intimate contact," which he declined to spell out, but by a sort of process of elimination, he had ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Detroit Free Press

Toobin's book is literate, well-researched, penetrating and evenhanded, laying blame where it belongs, offering a reasonable perspective on this shabby case.

New York Times

His prose is fluent, direct and supple, his assessments pithy and succinct....He uses his legal expertise to assess defense and prosecution strategies, highlight crucial developments and sketch in the background of principle players in such a way that the stories create a mosaic of life.

New York Times

His prose is fluent, direct and supple, his assessments pithy and succinct....He uses his legal expertise to assess defense and prosecution strategies, highlight crucial developments and sketch in the background of principle players in such a way that the stories create a mosaic of life.

USA Today

A well-written, profoundly rational analysis...Toobin's book possesses fresh insights.

Detroit Free Press

Toobin's book is literate, well-researched, penetrating and evenhanded, laying blame where it belongs, offering a reasonable perspective on this shabby case.

Entertainment Weekly

A real page-turner...blunt, sardonic, often morbidly funny.

Entertainment Weekly

A real page-turner...blunt, sardonic, often morbidly funny.

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