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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Behind the Scenes at Camp Clinton

Dick Morris was forced to resign from his privileged position as one of President Clinton's most intimate political advisers last summer when a prostitute with whom he had a long-term relationship revealed that -- as foreplay to sucking her toes -- Morris had allowed her to listen in on conversations with the President.

Less than six months later, Morris, a self-confessed egomaniac, has put himself firmly back in the public eye with the publication of his book Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties (Random House $25.95). While much of the material in this book is cynical, sleazy and self-serving, readers with an interest in the processes of American politics will still find it a compelling read.

Morris, who has worked with Clinton for 19 years (as well as a host of other politicians on both sides of the political divide), describes the President as possessing a split personality. First there is the "Boy Scout" with idealistic dreams of doing good in the world, who wants nothing to do with snakes such as Morris. And then there is the "Politician" who is vulnerable to Morris whispering in his ear (their meetings were originally clandestine) that, without descending first to the level of a Politician and getting re-elected, the Boy Scout will not be able to do good.

Morris reveals Clinton to be a compulsive poll-watcher, fine tuning his utterances and policies to the slightest shift in the public mood. While Morris portrays this as a lofty "dialogue with the public," an example he gives undermines this perception. In the summer of 1995, Clinton had 10,000 Americans nationwide canvassed for their views on what kind of holiday he should take. When the results said "take a hike" and play some golf, that is just what Clinton did, donning state-of-the-art golfing gear to appeal to a tiny pocket of high-tech, golf-playing swing voters out there on the courses. But the public proved fickle and Clinton returned from his holiday complaining bitterly and, one hopes, with some measure of irony, about "the first vacation that I've taken that didn't help me in the polls."


You are unlikely to have heard of Robert Clark yet since The Deep Midwinter (Picador, $23) is this American writer's fictional debut. But critics have been quick to note its mature qualities; you will find no autobiographical, self-obsessed, rites-of-passage first novel here.

Set in the Minnesota city of St. Paul in the winter of 1949-50, the novel opens with the death of James MacEwan, 45, seemingly in a hunting accident. But as James' older brother, Richard, begins to sort through the dead man's papers he is possessed of a demonic suspicion; did his brother and his own wife, Sarah, betray him?

From here we are launched into a psychological suspense novel which is as compelling to read as it is thought provoking. For as Clark shows, people are more often weak than bad, and a cowardly impulse in a moment of crisis can make a sinner out of a good man.

-- Compiled from The International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times.