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The Secret History of the Clinton White House

A little over a year after Bill Clinton left the presidency, a stream of former administration officials began making quiet, unannounced visits to Charlottesville, Virginia, to spend a day or two alone with scholars. They usually came to the parlor of an antebellum mansion named for William Faulkner, where they reflected privately into a tape recorder on what they had experienced. Among the initial visitors to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, a nonpartisan research institute with a special focus on the presidency, were Secretary of State Warren Christopher, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler, and Chief of Staff Mack McLarty. The job of collecting these recollections also took the center’s scholars to other places, however, including my own travels, as co-chair of the program, to the personal residence of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Kim Dae-jung in Seoul and to Vaclav Havel’s modest but whimsical office in Prague.

Over a 10-year span, the center collected 134 oral histories on the 42nd presidency. The Clinton archive now runs to 10,000 pages of transcribed conversations, making it the largest of the Miller Center’s presidential projects, which date back to the Ford White House. Roughly half of these interviews were released to the public in November. The rest, following standard oral-history protocols, will be opened as soon as each interviewee is comfortable doing so. The center relies on the presidential-library foundations to fund the considerable transactions costs of these oral histories—including plane tickets, research, and transcription—but the center’s scholars maintain complete editorial control over the proceedings. Indeed, some 50 political scientists and historians from 38 colleges and universities volunteered their time to assist with the questioning....

Read entire article at Atlantic