Joe Klein reviews ‘The Clinton Tapes’ by Taylor Branch

September 27, 2009

UNC alum Taylor Branch ( ’68 History) and former President Bill Clinton are friends and of course Branch is the acclaimed author of  Parting the Waters, the three-volume Martin Luther King biography. So when Clinton wanted to record his thoughts for posterity, he called on Branch.

Branch’s newest book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, comes out Tues. Sept. 29. It doesn’t include actual excerpts from the tapes, for they are still under the control of Clinton.  The book is about Branch’s recollections about what was said during those extensive, often late-night White House sessions, with the kind of context an award-winning historian can provide. Branch took notes during their recorded conversations and dictated his own account of what was said into a tape recorder in his car on the way home. So we have a lively book based on notes, analysis and tapes about the tapes.

Branch is donating his tapes and papers associated with the making of The Clinton Tapes to UNC’s Southern Historical Collection, as part of the Taylor Branch Papers.

So who reviews The Clinton Tapes for the Sunday New York Times Book Review? Joe Klein, the journalist who made news himself by writing an anonymous, controversial, fictionalized account of the Clinton campaign, called Primary Colors, which was made into a movie. Klein, whose fiction surely helped shape public opinion about Clinton, then wrote a Clinton biography, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton.

Branch’s book includes a “blue jillion” colorful anecdotes, Klein says, such as Senator Robert Byrd’s “gaseous disquisition” on homosexuality and Julius Caesar when Clinton was trying to decide what to do about policies concerning gays in the military (“don’t ask, don’t tell”), and Elizabeth Taylor’s question about whether Clinton checked out Sophia Loren’s breasts during a state dinner.

“Branch’s friendship with Clinton…makes possible a remarkable portrait of White House life,” Klein writes, including the revelation that Bill and Hillary Clinton seemed to have a strong relationship and that the President was an attentive father to Chelsea.

“In the end, though, The Clinton Tapes will stand as an important work about American political life because of two dominant themes that emerge gradually,” Klein continues, ” one about the man himself and the other about the nature of the current era. ”

You can read Joe Klein’s New York Times review here.


Alum is new social-entrepreneur-in-residence

September 24, 2009

Micah C. Gilmer ’03, a Morehead-Cain Scholar and UNC College alumnus, is Carolina’s new social entrepreneur-in-residence.

Gilmer is now directing Project Innovation, an initiative to examine the courses, programs and services needed to support students interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship. He will create a development and funding plan as well.

He is teaching a new course in public policy called Implementing Change: Barriers and Opportunities n Policy, Government and the Nonprofit Sector.

“UNC has a tremendous history and culture of public service and engagement,” says Gilmer, who has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke.

Click here to learn more about Gilmer and social entrepreneurship across the UNC campus.

‘Obama and the World’ with Strobe Talbott, Thurs 9/24

September 22, 2009

Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and former US deputy secretary of state, will discuss “Obama and the World” at UNC, Thursday Sept. 24. The free public lecture will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Fed Ex Global Education Center. Click here for more details.

B.B. King, Lucille and more

September 18, 2009

B.B. King, a guitar named Lucille, and more Mississippi blues tales in UNC blues historian William Ferris’ new book and DVD, Give My Poor Heart Ease, coming soon from UNC Press. Learn more here about the book, film and audio clips online.

Biking for brotherly love

September 17, 2009

Summer is usually all about the outdoors: enjoying the summer weather, and maybe taking a nice bike ride or two. UNC-Chapel Hill senior Stephen Prince of Pinehurst, N.C., took that a bit further. Last summer he biked across the country, raising $34,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Stephen did it for his older brother, Andrew, who was a math major at UNC-Charlotte. Andrew battled neurofibromatosis, a tumor-causing disease that affects the growth of brain tissue, for most of his life — until he lost his battle at 23, soon after Stephen graduated from high school.

Taking the 55-day ride from Lubec, Maine to Imperial Beach, Calif. (the easternmost town of the country), gave Stephen the opportunity to grieve his brother’s death. It also helped raise awareness about neurofibromatosis and finding a cure. On his Web site,, he said he “[hoped] that money raised by the ride will help researchers find a cure so that others won’t have to go through everything Andrew suffered.”

Stephen has a double major in history and peace, war and defense in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Read the original story in The Daily Tar Heel:

UNC women’s soccer documentary airs Sunday at 5

September 1, 2009

“Winning Isn’t Everything,” a documentary about the amazing UNC women’s soccer team, is scheduled to air on the Fox Soccer Channel Sunday Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. Produced by UNC communication studies professor Hap Kindmem, the film follows the 2007 team in their attempt to repeat as NCAA national champions. It also features two NCAA national championships for the women’s team, in 2006 and 2008.

The UNC women’s soccer dynasty has won 19 NCAA national championships in the last 27 years. One of the current players featured in the documentary is communication studies major Casey Nogueira, named the 2008-2009 ACC Female Athlete of the Year. She has also won multiple national player of the year honors.

Viewers will hear head coach Anson Dorrance’s pregame, halftime and sideline speeches to the 2007 team. Former stars Mia Hamm, Heather O’Reilly, Cindy Parlow, Carla Overbeck and Wendy Bebauer Palladino are also in the film.