WHILE there have been many takes on the rise and fall of Bill Clinton, John D. Gartner's "In Search of Bill Clinton" comes at it from a truly unique perspective.

Gartner, a psychologist, believes Clinton is "hypomanic," someone who is filled with charisma, but prone to making devastating decisions.

Though he spent little time with Clinton himself, Gartner interviewed childhood friends, campaign staff, former White House personnel and current friends and associates to develop his unique view of the former president.

Gartner claims that through his life, Clinton tried to re-create the abuse sustained at the hands of his stepfather, Roger Clinton. So he taunted his enemies during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

He also always seeks to have two kinds of women in his life--one stern and a limit-setter, like his grandmother Edith Cassidy, who helped raise him; the other like his mother, Virginia Kelley, who was seductive and wild.

In addition to his interviews with others, Gartner follows Clinton to Africa, where his foundation has made incomparable progress in helping AIDS victims.

There, he gets to personally experience the Clinton charisma he has heard so much about from others.

It's a fascinating look inside the mind of one of America's most confusing presidents.

Laura L. Hutchison is an editor at The Free Lance-Star.

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