Presidential biographer Michael Takiff is developing a reputation as today’s preeminent practitioner of oral history. In "A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him" (Yale University Press), he brings together 169 people to tell President Clinton’s biography: from the cousin who took him to the Saturday afternoon Westerns in Hope, Arkansas, to a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, from classmates at every stage of his education to journalists like Sam Donaldson and Tom Brokaw, as well as over two dozen current or former members of Congress, from Democrats like Barney Frank and John Lewis to Republicans like Bob Dole and the late Henry Hyde. Historian Rick Perlstein, author of "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,” calls "A Complicated Man" "an outstanding accomplishment. . . . A historic contribution to the biographical record which will stand for generations."
Working with former senator and presidential nominee George McGovern, Michael created a book concept and sold it to Stephen E. Ambrose, who turned it into the bestseller "The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany" (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
In 2005 he taught at the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University. Titled “The American Experience: War and Memory,” his course presented a survey of American memoirs, oral histories, and letters from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He is also the author of two chapters, “The First World War (1914-1918)” and "The Era of World War II (1935-1945)," for a middle-school American history textbook published by Prentice-Hall.
As a writer, Michael’s trademark is deft, witty prose that is intelligent, crystal clear, and logically tight. His opinion pieces have appeared on the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as in The Nation, HuffingtonPost, and now The Winning Words Project.