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“By the way,” he added, “it’s not just Washingtonians who look first at the index. Academics do it all the time.”

One government official owned up to being an index-looker in testimony before the commission that investigated the 9/11 terror attacks. In March 2004, when then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was asked if he had read a book by former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, he confessed: “I’m the only honest person in Washington. I gave it the Washington read.”

“You looked in the index to see if your name was in it?” he was asked.

“And then what was said about me,” Armitage admitted.

There’s a mixed history when it comes to offering indexes for books on politics and government.

George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove’s memoir, “Courage and Consequence,” had an index. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s “The Audacity to Win” didn’t.

The index to Bill Clinton’s mammoth autobiography, “My Life,” ran 42 pages. Hillary Clinton’s “Living History” index checked in at 27 pages.

Barack Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” index is just 11 pages.

Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue” has none.

Washington veterans say there are pros and cons to having an index.

One theory is that an index crammed with names equals more sales.

A contrary theory is that if people can’t do a quick index scan at Borders, they’ll have to pony up and buy it to see who’s mentioned.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, in defending the president’s war deliberations as revelations from the book trickled out last week, worked in a pitch for people to go beyond the index this time to get the full picture.

“I hope people get the whole book and read the whole book,” Gibbs said. He’d read an advance copy in one night.

More Beltway reads are in the pipeline for release this fall: former President George W. Bush’s book “Decision Points,” and Palin’s “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.”

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