I COULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN this book without the support of the University of Oklahoma, the insight of many colleagues and scholars, and the encouragement of friends. I am indebted to David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma; Provost Nancy Mergler; and Dean Robert Con Davis-Undiano for giving me the freedom to work on this project. Special thanks to Carolyn Morgan, Robert Griswold, and Mindy Jones for all of their help and support over the years. Research assistants George Milne, Paul McKenzie-Jones, and Chris Davis provided a steady stream of material. Nick Davatzes, Gary Ginsberg, and Julian Zelizer read the entire manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions. James T. Patterson, who is one of America’s most eminent historians and also a good friend and mentor, read an early version of the manuscript. He scribbled detailed notes on nearly every page. His comments, always penetrating and always constructive, sent me back to the library for another six months, but they also made this a much better book. At Oxford University Press, Susan Ferber guided the project from beginning to end, making numerous helpful suggestions along the way.
Of course, it would have been impossible to write this book without the cooperation of the two people profiled: President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich. I had the opportunity to interview the president at the very beginning of this project. Although he never formally responded to written follow-up questions, the president did give many of the people around him permission to speak with me. I am especially indebted to Speaker Gingrich, who not only made himself available for interviews, but also opened up his private papers and encouraged all of his close associates and aides to cooperate. For the critical years 1996–98, I depended heavily on the recollections