Picks and Pans Review: A Vast Conspiracy

updated 02/21/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Jeffrey Toobin

It seems unlikely that any writer could make the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal fresh and entertaining, but that's just what Toobin has accomplished. An ABC News legal analyst and staff writer at The New Yorker who similarly deconstructed the O.J. Simpson saga in 1996's The Run of His Life, Toobin zeroes in on the suspect motives of the President's tormentors, creating a story as taut and surprising as any legal thriller.

Nor does Toobin spare Bill Clinton, whose "abject self-pity" and "sustained dishonesty," he says, ensured that the scandal would rage on. But the real story here is how Clinton's many adversaries—lawyers, reporters and bureaucrats driven largely by petty grudges and greed, as well as ideology—converged inexorably into a "vast conspiracy," if not precisely the one alluded to by Hillary Clinton. The intimate conniving of Linda Tripp, for instance, revived Kenneth Starr's moribund inquisition. By the time Paula Jones is made to sketch the President's penis during a deposition, Toobin's nifty tale reads like the ultimate political satire. (Random House, $25.95)

Bottom Line: Unimpeachable page-turner

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