WASHINGTON -The list in the back of Bill Clinton's memoir is an embodiment of the political pecking order, a tiny-print world of foreign dignitaries, campaign advisers, fund-raisers, celebrities and assorted high-achievers. For the former president, there was only one place where his glittering network belonged.

For names, dropping of, see the index.

A random index scan of My Life yields famous names stacked between policy references, a place where only the most important get a page number. A single perusal can span the globe: What begins with Arafat, Yasser, goes to Bandar, Prince; Gore, Albert, Jr.; Imus, Don; Mandela, Nelson; Mitterrand, Francois; Starr, Kenneth; Streisand, Barbra.

Even Teresa, Mother.

References to the Clintons outnumber all others (i.e. "Clinton relationship, mutual love in"), but an array of other characters appears, too. A reference is a nod to a person's importance in the Washington universe (NBC's Tim Russert is listed), while an omission can be seen as a slight. (What? No Chris Matthews from Hardball?)

In the capital's bookstores, people are searching for themselves - and not in the existential sense.

"People at cocktail parties may not talk about looking for their names, but you can bet that's what they talk about when they go home," says former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta (pages 459-62, 488, 535, etc.).

The index of Clinton's My Life is 38 pages of status anxiety. Panetta considers the index-scan a must.

"To be honest," says Panetta, "when I get the book, I'll do the same thing."

Some names that appear in the book - Clinton's pre-Hillary girlfriends, for example - are not referenced in the index. But in general, the list is relentless. Of all the sections of the book, it could be the most heavily read.

That's at least what Barbara Meade suspects. As the co-owner of Politics and Prose, the Washington bookstore that has shared in a season of top-selling political memoirs, she has watched people pick up the Clinton book and flip to the back, again and again. She expects My Life to be one of her best-sold and least-read books.

"I would be very surprised if there are many people who do more than a good skim," says Meade, whose 20-year-old independent bookstore will host Clinton for a reading next month. The memoir's debut last week was the biggest ever for a nonfiction book, selling more than 400,000 copies nationally on its first day. Meade credits a slew of new political books, specifically Clinton's, with making this the most lucrative June in the bookstore's history.

Meade, whose first job was as an indexer for National Geographic, says she used to do the painstaking referencing by hand entirely on - what else - index cards. "It was," she says, "a very, very tedious job."

His friend Sacagawea

Now indexing is executed more easily through computer searches. That means, to quote a new Clinton catchphrase, that the former president can make his index as big as he wants for the worst possible reason: because he can. (Perhaps this explains why a single offhand reference to the Indian guide on the Lewis and Clark expedition results in the inscrutable index line, "Sacagawea, 948," amid references to Friends of Bill.)

Plenty of lines involve subjects, not people, but it's the personal references that can be the most juicy. Though some mentioned in the back pages won't be able to look themselves up (Plato, 77), those who can, do.

"I wanted to read exactly what he had said in the book so I read just the couple of pages," says journalist Steve Kroft, referring to pages 385 and 386, where Clinton takes aim at him. It was Kroft's 60 Minutes interview with then-candidate Clinton about allegations of the affair with Gennifer Flowers that is credited with salvaging Clinton's campaign, but Clinton describes being so offended by Kroft's questioning that "I wanted to slug him."

"I've had an awful lot of people come up and ask me about it," Kroft says of his mention in the book, noting that Clinton knew the only reason for the interview was his alleged infidelity. "A lot of reporters have come up to me and said, 'You should really wear it as a badge of honor,' and I kind of do. That was a very difficult interview to do - he was going to give one interview on the subject, and I had to make sure that he answered the questions."

Despite the acid comment about Kroft, most personal references in the book are neutral at worst, glowing at best. Reviewers have said Clinton is not using this book to settle scores with anyone other than his impeachment nemesis, former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, and he treats others - how else - diplomatically.