August 30, 1999 12:00 PM

by Christopher Andersen

Given the stories in this tawdry tell-all, our current Commander in Chief should have another title: grossest national product. After all, Christopher Andersen, the author of books on Princess Diana and the Kennedys (and a former senior editor at PEOPLE), reports everything from Mr. Clinton’s piggish eating habits (he wolfs down bananas smeared with peanut butter) to Hillary’s alleged concern that her husband could possibly contract a sexually transmitted disease. And there are enough scenes of extramarital unzipping to make the Starr Report seem downright sweet in comparison.

And yet the marriage Andersen portrays here is not entirely miserable: From the beginning, sex-addict Bill has used his wife’s fierce intelligence to his political advantage. (He supposedly called her “the warden” to his girlfriends.) In exchange, Hillary, now a potential Democratic Senate candidate in New York, amassed enormous power even as she suffered her many humiliations. Andersen, clearly no fan of the First Couple, seizes on sleaze too much and with too little attribution. Titillating, perhaps, but in the end the book is merely banal, as the mystery of what keeps Bill and Hillary together remains largely unanswered. (Morrow, $27.50)

Bottom Line: Close, but no cigar

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