"It's a challenge when a journalist is put in the awkward position of writing about a friend -- all the more so when that friend happens to be the president-elect of the United States. But for Taylor Branch, that exact situation produced a terrific book -- one of the most detailed and vivid portraits of a White House and its occupants ever to end up between hard covers. It was in December of 1992, after Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton defeated incumbent George H.W. Bush, that Branch found himself face-to-face with the incoming leader of the free world some twenty years after they were thick as thieves. In 1972, Clinton and Branch and a third friend, Julius Glickman, now a Houston lawyer, co-chaired the Texas presidential campaign of Democrat George McGovern. Branch and Clinton, and Clinton's then girlfriend Hillary Rodham, shared an apartment in Central Austin. But after Richard Nixon trounced McGovern, the friends went their separate ways -- and didn't see each other until Clinton reached out to Branch, by then an acclaimed author, to see if he would be the personal historian of his administration. The conversations that resulted over the next several years, mostly recorded in secret in the East Wing, spanned the high and low points of the Clinton era, and as such provide rich material for Branch's book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History from the President, which was published in late 2009. For 62-year-old Branch, a graduate of the University of North Carolina and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, it's a worthy cap to a career whose highlight is a multi-volume, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Martin Luther King Jr. Of course, Branch didn't know King the way he knew Clinton -- warts and all -- which is why this latest effort is, in so many ways, an undeniably compelling must-read." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 11.18.09

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