In a country more prone to hit the self-destruct button than to come to terms with rabid partisan quarrels it's hard to give a balanced verdict of this book.
On the one hand Gormley lets almost everyone speak their minds, right or wrong, partisan account or balanced judgment.
On the other hand there's Gormley interpreting these accounts.
Gormley's basic assumption is that all parties were wrongly vilified, because basically they had the best of intentions save for an occasional outside juggernaut.
Is that really the case? Careful reading of all the statements from the varying participants seems to lead me to a different conclusion.
Basically Clinton remains a man with questionable sex ethics, short of hormone treatment to ease his stupid sex urges. And Starr and his ilk remain the largely partisan folks out to "get" Clinton personally and derail his administration in the process as well.
It might be the result of appeasing all parties to get them to talk to Gormley in the first place.
Linda Tripp claims she did it all for the best of everyone, but fails to explain why. All we learn is that she uses paranoia as an excuse to frame Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton in a partly illegal undertaking.
Most adversaries of Bill and Hillary Clinton get their actions explained in ridiculous wordings. "I thought Clinton was sick and depraved, but I swear I respected him"; "I thought Clinton was a low life liberal scum, but I swear it's wasn't politics that drove me"; "I joined forces with Starr because I was anti-Clinton all my life, but there were no politics involved in my decision." "When we found a way to use our digging into the personal sex life of Clinton to make him pay, and made high fives to celebrate the fact, it was all because we were only seeking out the truth."
When Paula Jones claims Clinton had to pay because The American Spectator smeared her name, Clinton wonders why she was out to get him and not the AS instead. Why did she go in cahoots with the very magazine that smeared her name? Why didn't Gormley ask her the obvious question?
All in all the book does little to change the image of a partisan mud fight, a continuing struggle for power with all means available. It does not explain why the Starr operation was a neutral search for truth instead of a derailed partisan quest. It doesn't even enlighten us why Clinton was such a stupid person to have a sexual relation in the White House while fighting a court case around a sexual relation in his his gubernatorial period. Weird.
Maybe Gormley chose the best solution after all. Write down what they all told him and let history judge. But maybe he did so afraid of being accused of partisanship in the current festering US political landscape.
If that's the case it's a pity. I don't buy such books to rehash the clippings from the legal proceedings, the papers and the Drudge report, but because I want a perspective as objective as possible, to come to a sensible discussion of the way democratic governments and their opponents function. And in the end, what we can learn from their mistakes.