The Presidents Club

Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity

The Presidents Club

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The New York Times bestselling history of the private relationships among the last thirteen presidents—the partnerships, private deals, rescue missions, and rivalries of those select men who served as commander in chief.

The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.

Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 656 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439127728 | 
  • February 2013
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Presidents Club includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Backroom deals, secret alliances, bitter rivalries—these are just a few of the facets of what is perhaps the most important fraternity in American History. Bound by experience and the singular weight of holding supreme office, this club of former and current presidents has, in one way or another, acted as a secret and impactful instrument on the course of American—and world—history. Time editors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy put these complicated relationships, from Truman and Hoover’s truce at Eisenhower’s inauguration to Clinton and Obama’s touchy modern relationship, under the ultimate lens, revealing the ways in which presidents in office must rely, sometimes against their will, on those few men who have sat in the same seat.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. List and discuss the most unlikely relationships in the Presidents Club. Who reached farthest across the aisle? Why are former and current presidents so likely to work together, even when their policies and pe see more

About the Authors

Nancy Gibbs
Photograph by Javier Sirvent

Nancy Gibbs

Nancy Gibbs is the deputy managing editor of Time magazine and coauthor with Michael Duffy of the New York Times bestseller The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House.


Michael Duffy

Michael Duffy is Time’s executive editor and Washington bureau chief and directs coverage of presidents, politics, and national affairs for the magazine.