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Monica's Story

Monica's Story

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Monica's Story

2.5/5 (5 valoraciones)
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Aug 15, 1999


Behind the headlines, there was one fascinating woman. This is her story.

Monica Lewinsky. You know her name, you know her face, and you think you know her story: the pretty young intern who began an illicit affair with the President of the United States-- a liaison that ignited an unprecedented political scandal and found Bill Clinton as the second U.S. president to ever be impeached. But there is much more to the Monica Lewinsky story than just that. Andrew Morton, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Diana: Her True Story, takes you beyond the headlines and the sound bites to discover the real Monica Lewinsky, a woman as interesting, intelligent, and misunderstood as they come.

Read Monica's Story and you'll discover:

* How a difficult childhood shaped Monica's tumultuous adult romances
* Her relationship with Bill Clinton: how she saw a side to him few know-- and why she sometimes still misses her "Handsome"
* The betrayal by Linda Tripp-- and how Monica's trusting nature snared her in Tripp's treacherous web
* The horror of Kenneth Starr's exhaustive and intrusive inquiry-- how it affected her and her family, and how it still haunts her
* Where Monica will go from here: What are her career plans? Will she realize her dream of marrying and starting a family in the wake of the scandal?
* And much, much more

With sixteen pages of photos.

Aug 15, 1999

Sobre el autor

Andrew Morton is one of the world’s best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity and royalty. His groundbreaking 1992 biography of Diana, Princess of Wales—written with her full, though then secret, cooperation—changed the way the world looked at the British royal family. Since then, he has gone on to write New York Times and Sunday Times (UK) bestsellers on Monica Lewinsky, Madonna, David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The winner of numerous awards, he divides his time between London and Los Angeles.

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Monica's Story - Andrew Morton



Betrayal at Pentagon City

STIFLING A YAWN, Monica Lewinsky pulled on black leggings and a gray T-shirt, then made for the door, negotiating her way around the half-filled packing boxes that littered her ground-floor apartment in the Watergate Building in downtown Washington. Once outside, she climbed into her brother’s Jeep Cherokee and nursed it through the morning traffic for the fifteen-minute journey to her new gym on fashionable Connecticut Avenue.

Conscious, as ever, of her weight, she wanted to get in shape for her new job, working in the Public Relations Division of Revlon, the cosmetics company, in New York. Yet while it was an exciting and enticing prospect, her anticipation of this new life was tinged with regret. She was leaving the person she loved, the one man who had occupied her every waking moment and invaded her restless nights for the last two years—the President of the United States.

There was another and more pressing worry. As she took part in the morning aerobics class, her mind was occupied with more than a sentimental reverie for the man she had loved and now seemed destined to lose. She had been ordered to make a sworn statement in a civil case brought by Paula Jones, a clerical worker from the President’s home state of Arkansas, who claimed that, in May 1991, when he had been state Governor, he had sexually harassed and assaulted her. But while she had complied with the order, Monica had lied in her affidavit. As far as she was concerned, the fact that she had had an affair with a married man, even if he was the most powerful individual in the free world, was nobody’s business but her own.

As the disco beat pounded through the mirror-walled exercise room, Monica knew she had a major problem, a predicament that had been gnawing at her soul for nearly a month. She had told a girlfriend, a middle-aged secretary at her office in the Pentagon, about her affair. Now that friend was threatening to go public. For the last month Monica had tried everything to ensure her silence, even offering her a condominium in Australia.

What she did not know then, however, was that her friend, Linda Tripp, had in fact been bent on betraying her for almost a year. She had even taped Monica’s phone calls to her, planning to use the girl’s indiscreet remarks in a kiss-and-tell book she proposed to write; worse still, she had plotted with a right-wing political spy, a magazine reporter and Paula Jones’s lawyers to expose her. In the last couple of days Tripp had made a Faustian pact with the Special Prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, a former Bible salesman turned lawyer who had been zealously pursuing Monica’s lover, the President, for the last four years. Starr would guarantee Tripp’s immunity from prosecution for illegally taping her friend’s calls if she told him everything, a deal that would leave Monica facing jail for having sworn a false statement.

Monica knew none of this, however, as she stopped off at the Starbucks coffee shop for her usual brew, a large latte, skimmed, with sweetener and a shake of chocolate and cinnamon. As she sipped her coffee and read the Washington Post for that Friday, January 16, she was paged on her beeper by Mary, the code name Tripp was now using in their increasingly fraught communications.

She immediately called back, hoping that the older woman had at last seen sense and agreed to file an affidavit that would leave both of them in the clear. In her nasal New Jersey drawl, Tripp told her that she was planning to see her new lawyer later that day, and wanted to meet with Monica before that critical meeting to discuss what she should say in her affidavit. Monica readily agreed and arranged to see her at the shopping mall in Pentagon City at eleven o’clock. Relieved, she resumed her reading of the paper, only to be interrupted by another page from Mary, who now pushed the meeting back to a quarter to one. Again she agreed.

That was not the only page she received that fateful morning. Next there was a call from Kay—the code name used by the President’s Personal Secretary, Betty Currie. She told Monica that she had spoken to the President about inquiries from the media, and particularly from Michael Isikoff of Newsweek magazine, whose questions seemed to indicate a level of knowledge about the illicit affair. The President’s message was to say nothing. Monica asked Betty to wish the President Good luck, knowing that he was due to give his sworn statement in the Paula Jones case on the following day.

Finishing her coffee, she decided that, rather than return to her apartment, she would pick up a few more packing boxes for her move to New York. She hoped that, if Tripp held firm in her affidavit and the President did the same in his deposition on the following day, then at last she would be able to wake up from this silly nightmare and the ridiculous Paula Jones case would drift out of her life.

Having killed some time, Monica still arrived early at the Pentagon mall, and therefore stood by the sushi bar reading a women’s magazine. By now, however, she had begun to feel sick—seriously nauseous, in fact, as an awful sense of dread dragged at the pit of her stomach. She had lost all faith in Tripp, whose behavior and disposition had altered dramatically over the last few months. Indeed, she now seemed a different person from the friend to whom Monica, one fateful day just over a year before, had reluctantly confided her love for the President.

In truth, she was tired of Linda Tripp, sick of her prevarication and her lies; she hated, too, the fact that she was now beholden to a woman she no longer liked, let alone trusted. A three-hour lunch a couple of days earlier had been a dragging ordeal, Monica forced to be pleasant as she listened to the other woman’s evasions and her sly excuses. Now, to cap it all, Tripp was late.

It crossed Monica’s mind that she should leave the mall and go home to finish her packing. She delayed, worried about the look on the face of her Handsome—her affectionate nickname for the President—if he were ever to discover that she had revealed their intimate secret. And he certainly would find that out if Linda Tripp were to swear an affidavit expressing what she knew of Monica’s affair with him.

Then, as she continued to loaf by the sushi bar, she at last spotted the lumpy figure of Tripp, dressed in a dun-brown business suit, slowly descending the escalator. Lowering her magazine, Monica walked towards her, hiding her irritation behind a mask of friendship, preparing to greet her one-time friend while hoping that their meeting would be as short as it would be successful. Hi, she said, reaching out to hug Tripp. The other was stiff and unresponsive, however; worse, she gestured with her eyes to two cold-faced men in dark suits and white shirts who had followed her down the escalator.

As they approached, an overwhelming sense of fear seized the base of Monica’s throat, almost choking her. They introduced themselves as agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, extending their shiny steel badges rather than their hands to confirm their identities. Then, in clipped sentences that she could barely hear above the hubbub of the lunchtime throng, they told her that they were sanctioned by the United States Attorney General, Janet Reno, to investigate crimes committed in relation to the Paula Jones lawsuit.

Ma’am, you are in serious trouble, they told her ominously, before adding, But we would like to give you an opportunity to save yourself. Gasping for air, she looked plaintively at the two agents and then at Linda Tripp. How could she have done this to me? How could I ever have trusted her; and trusted her for so long? Hardly able to breathe, her heart pounding harder than she had ever thought possible, she managed to blurt out the one sentence she had heard in almost every crime movie she had ever seen: I’m not talking to you without my attorney.

They barely missed a beat, replying with practiced certainty, That’s fine. But if you do that you may not be able to help yourself so much. We just want to talk to you. You are free to leave when you want. Monica’s token defiance barely lasted the time it took for them to say the words; shocked and frightened, she burst into a flood of tears. Tripp now spoke for the first time. In her rasping voice she told her young friend, Trust me, Monica, this is for your own good. Just listen to them. They did the same thing to me. Then she reached forward and, like a latter-day Judas, tried to embrace her. Monica pulled away in revulsion.

The FBI men made it clear that if she cooperated she might not be in so much trouble, and it took Monica a few seconds before she grasped the meaning of what they were saying. Her every instinct told her to walk away; equally, however, she calculated that if she did so she would not find out what was going on, and would not therefore be able to help either her case, or the President. She therefore agreed to accompany the FBI agents to their room in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which is adjacent to the concourse. At this point she had one overwhelming thought in her mind—she must warn the President.

As this unlikely group now ascended the escalators Monica was screaming in her head to the passing parade, Help! These monsters have me. Please, somebody save me. Dear God, please help me. But the shoppers passed by without a glance, without offering a helping hand, without even having a clue about the calamity that had just overtaken the silently pleading girl.

She was in shock and she was panicking, but most of all she was in deep, deep trouble. As the lift took Monica, her treacherous friend and the two cold-eyed FBI men to the Ritz-Carlton’s Room 1012, she found herself thinking,

How did I get here?


My Little Farfel

ON A HOT SUMMER’S DAY—July 23—in 1973, after an interminable labor in the same San Francisco children’s hospital where she herself had been born, Marcia Lewinsky gave birth to her first child, Monica Samille. As the proud father, Bernie, himself a doctor, looked on, the nurses who had helped Marcia through her longest day marveled at the beautiful long eyelashes of her seven-and-a-half-pound daughter. Bernie called her My little Farfel, farfel meaning noodle.

Bernie Lewinsky’s parents had both fled Germany in the 1920s to escape the increased harassment of the Jews by the emerging Nazi Party. His father, George, sought a new life in El Salvador in Central America, where he worked as an accountant for a coffee import—export business. During a trip to London in 1939, on the eve of World War Two, he met Susi, a young German teacher who had left her home in Hamburg after the Gestapo took away her entire class of Jewish children during a raid on the school where she taught Hebrew. Two weeks later George and Susi married. They settled in El Salvador, where they enjoyed an affluent lifestyle, far removed from the horrors of the war that was to devastate Europe. Yet even though their homeland was thousands of miles away, they instilled in their son Bernie, who was born in 1943, the archetypal Teutonic virtues of hard work, self-discipline and respect for the rule of law. When Bernie was fourteen, the family immigrated to California, where, after high school, he went on to study medicine at the University of California in Berkeley and Irvine. It was while he was at medical school that he first met Marcia Vilensky, then aged twenty to his twenty-five.

Like George Lewinsky, Marcia’s father, Samuel, had fled his native land—in his case, Lithuania, then suffering under Stalin’s purges of the 1930s. Samuel Vilensky first settled in San Francisco, where Marcia was born in 1948. When she was four, the family moved to Tokyo, her father having decided that there were exciting business opportunities in postwar Japan. Samuel developed a successful import-export business in Tokyo, and the Vilenskys enjoyed a life as affluent as it was cosmopolitan, given their Russian roots, expatriate social circle and Japanese friends. Marcia and her sister Debra, who was born three years after the family had left America, wanted for nothing: the house was staffed by a bevy of servants, including a chauffeur. The two girls integrated well into the local community, both becoming fluent in Japanese. This idyll was, however, to be abruptly shattered.

In 1964, Samuel Vilensky died suddenly of a heart attack. With his death the family business fell in ruins, and Marcia, Debra and their mother, Bernice, had to return to California, where they stayed with Bernice’s mother, Olga Polack, in Sonoma County, just outside San Francisco. To support the family, Bernice took a job as a legal secretary, although it barely paid enough to make ends meet. The days of a large house and lavish lifestyle were consigned to history. It was, Marcia recalls, a bitter wrench, a huge change, to move out of the country you have grown up in.

With the family coffers suddenly empty, Marcia enrolled for study at a community college. After two years one of her uncles stepped in, undertaking to pay the fees for her to attend California State University, Northridge, where she majored in urban studies, aiming to become a town planner once she had graduated. These dreams were shelved for good when, at Easter 1968, she met Bernie Lewinsky, a quietly spoken, self-effacing medical student five years her senior. The bond that drew us together was the fact that we had both lived abroad, says Marcia, although she concedes that after the trauma of her father’s death she was looking for emotional security.

With Bernie facing the stressful prospect of a medical internship, both families agreed that it would be better if the couple, young as they were, married before he began this time of long hours and little sleep, so that they could, at least for a while, enjoy a normal married life. In the commotion and excitement surrounding the wedding, the differences in their characters—she charming, biddable, shy, unconventional and creative, he undemonstrative, down to earth, practical and hard-working—were set aside, and they were married in a Jewish ceremony at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel in February 1969.

Shortly after their wedding they moved to London, where Bernie worked for a year as a registrar (the British term for resident) at the Royal Marsden Hospital, concentrating on his specialist field, oncological cancer. Both look back on that period with fond memories; Marcia, an Anglophile to her fingertips, loved the country’s history and tradition, while Bernie enjoyed the challenges he faced at one of the world’s leading cancer hospitals. It was during this time that Monica was conceived. Marcia, who returned to San Francisco near the end of Bernie’s time at the Royal Marsden in London, excitedly sent a telegram to her husband at the hospital: Dear Bernard, We’re having a baby. Love, Marcia.

For Marcia, the arrival of Monica signaled a fulfillment of a kind. As she says, Like many women of my generation, I never really assigned myself a career. Being a mother was my goal. My kids are precious to me—you could say too important.

It was clear from early on that Monica was a bright child; she could talk before she could walk, and was speaking fluently before her second birthday. Marcia doted on her baby daughter, but she soon discovered who was the boss: Monica, she says, with a smile of weary acceptance. She was a strong-willed child who always knew her own mind. Yet her strong will and determination have never been to control others. It is all about Monica knowing what is right for Monica.

Both her mother and her Aunt Debra remember numerous examples of Monica’s utter certainty about her own decisions, even as a small child. When she was two years old, Debra took her to the park near her home in San Francisco to play on the swings. When it was time to leave, Monica refused to get off her swing and, although she adored her aunt—who throughout Monica’s life has been a close confidante and staunch friend—ignored all attempts to persuade her to go home. Eventually, Debra tried to trick her by calling out, Bye, and walking away, thinking the little girl would run and catch up to her. She was wrong. Although it was getting dark, Monica remained glued to her swing. It was only when she had at last had enough that she agreed to leave. To me, says Debra, that isn’t necessarily bad—she knew her own mind even at two years old. I think she is an exceptional person, quite fascinating. She was then like she is now, charming, sweet, extremely bright and difficult, very strong-willed.

Her strength of will, which some might call obstinacy in one so young, surfaced again when Debra was due to marry her fiance, Bill Finerman, a cardiologist, at his grandmother’s home in Beverly Hills in 1976. Monica, then three, was to be the flowergirl. Just twenty minutes before the service, she decided that her light-blue dress, which had long sleeves, would look better if it was sleeveless—she already had an eye for fashion. With the bride putting the finishing touches to her own dress, there was no time for argument or persuasion. Marcia decided that the only solution was to do as her daughter wanted, and she reached for her scissors. The offending sleeves removed, Monica happily put on her dress and, her aunt says, stole the show.

Marcia also admits that the combination of her daughter’s tenacious yet emotionally needy nature and her own readiness to avoid a fuss, at almost any cost, probably influenced Monica’s behavior in adulthood. I’m by nature non-confrontational; Bernie was very autocratic, very stern, because of his upbringing so you can see the dynamics of the family.

In 1976, after Bernie had finished a two-year stint at the Letterman Hospital in San Francisco, the family left their three-bedroom home there for Los Angeles, where he had secured a well-paid position in private practice. A year later, Marcia gave birth again, this time to a boy, whom they named Michael. Monica was thrilled. The four-year age gap was deliberate, designed to prevent sibling rivalry, but Monica adored her baby brother from the first, and immediately nicknamed him Jo Jo. When mother and son returned to the family’s Spanish-style house in Beverly Hills they found, stretched across the front door, ribbons and a huge banner saying: Welcome Home Jo Jo. She was so taken with her brother that she would often hide in a closet until his nanny, who liked a regimented routine, put him to bed for the night. Then she would squeeze from her hiding place and play with him until they were discovered. She mothered him to death, recalls Marcia, who, significantly, also observes that, unlike his elder sister, Michael has a relaxed, shrug-of-the-shoulders approach to life’s decisions and difficulties.

In general, Michael remembers, Monica was overly thoughtful and always concerned about me, though he adds that she was a great sister. For his part, he agrees that he is much the more level-headed of the two: Monica can run the spectrum of emotions in a very short amount of time, he says diplomatically. So while he remembers their three-bedroom house on North Hillcrest Drive with affection, recalling days splashing about in their own pool with their father, Monica remembers the fact that the suburb was plagued by raccoons coming into the houses.

Although, some people have portrayed Marcia as a flighty socialite, perhaps because under her pen name Marcia Lewis she wrote a monthly column for the Hollywood Reporter Magazine, in reality she was a homebody, happy to devote her time and energies to her children. Which was just as well because besides Michael’s arrival, there was another significant change for Monica: at the age of six, she first went to school. The John Thomas Dye School in Bel Air is a well-established private school with a daunting academic and social reputation. With its immaculate buildings and grounds, high-caliber teaching staff and a roll-call of former students who have reached the political and economic summits of the country, it is a quintessential example of WASP culture. Its alumni include political friends of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, the son of Katharine Graham, owner of the Washington Post, and also a number of California congressmen and senators.

For a time, this bright, lively Jewish girl fit in well. She excelled at mathematics, her written work regularly earned top grades, and her love of poetry was recognized early on. The fact that both her parents read to her a lot as a child and encouraged her own reading was a significant factor in her early intellectual growth. In the hothouse atmosphere of John Thomas Dye it was perhaps no surprise that her stated ambition was to become President of the United States. She had other, less daunting, dreams, however. When she was seven she wrote that she wanted to be a teacher and help other people to learn . . I would be nice but strict, she stated.

Nancy Krasne, a family friend who was in the same school car pool as the Lewinskys, and who has known them for twenty years, remembers Monica as a very special girl among a high-powered group. I always thought that she was the one who was going to be successful, Nancy says. Monica was very bright, bordering on the brilliant, and very expressive. She was hard-working, conscientious, very much the little adult in some ways, but in others, emotionally very immature. The problem was that she didn’t fit the Beverly Hills mold, even though she was so eager to please, to join in with the others. As an example of this driving wish not to be set apart from her fellows or, worse, excluded by them, Monica once spent an entire weekend at home learning how to jump rope so that she could join in with the other girls on schooldays. For a girl who confesses that she is hopeless at sports, nothing could better demonstrate her overwhelming desire to be one of the crowd. She certainly made the grade academically, regularly winning commendations for her work, and invariably bringing home excellent report cards. She remembers it as "a really terrific school … very challenging and

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  • (1/5)
    Manipulative. Childish. Pathetic. Book poorly written and with little facts.
  • (4/5)
    This is a very human look at a woman who is very human. Compassionate and readable, this book gives the reader a look inside the scandal. We all have faults, most of our faults are not on display for the whole world to see and judge. Fascinating and devourable.
  • (1/5)
    WHY WHY WHY? would I have tried to read this?? I really tried to read this book. But it was SOOO boring!!A waste of time!!6/20/99