Taylor Branch: Book on Bill Clinton Emerges From 8 Years of Tapes

Historians in the News

The conversations between President Bill Clinton and the historian Taylor Branch were long and late, sometimes stretching until 2 a.m., and always in secret. For eight years, at Mr. Clinton’s urging, they met in a second-floor office in the family quarters of the White House, Mr. Branch scribbling notes and a tape recorder running.

Those sessions, nearly 80 in all, are the fodder for a new book by Mr. Branch, tentatively titled “Wrestling History: The Bill Clinton Tapes,” that Simon & Schuster plans to publish in late 2008, the publisher said today.

Mr. Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “America in the King Years, 1954-1968,” a trilogy on the life and times of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said he intended to write about what he called an extraordinary and unprecedented series of sessions that began as an oral history project when Mr. Clinton was still the president-elect.

They are also the product of a friendship between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Branch that dates back nearly 40 years, to when the men met at antiwar meetings in the thick of the Vietnam War and collaborated on Senator George S. McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign in Texas.

Mr. Branch, 60, is currently winnowing 2,600 pages of raw material into a book that he plans to begin writing within a few weeks, he said....
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