9780743222242

Living History

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

ISBN 10: 0743222245 / 0-7432-2224-5
ISBN 13: 9780743222242
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis:
Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady. "Living History" is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain -- responding to the changing times and her own internal compass -- and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America's great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women's rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, "Living History" captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice -- as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics.


Review:
As with most books written by politicians while in office (or at least aiming for one), Living History is, first and foremost, safe. There are interesting observations and anecdotes, the writing is engaging, and there is enough inside scoop to appeal to those looking for a bit of gossip, but there are no bombshells here and it is doubtful the book will change many minds about this polarizing figure. This does not mean the work is without merit, however, for Hillary Clinton has much to say about her experience as first lady, which is the primary focus of the book. Those interested in these experiences and her commentary on them will find the book worth reading; those looking for revelations will be disappointed.

Beginning with a brief outline of her childhood, college years, introduction to politics, and her courtship with Bill Clinton, Clinton covers a wide variety of topics: life on the campaign trail, her troubled tenure as leader of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform, meeting with foreign leaders, and her work on human rights, to name a few. By necessity, she also addresses the various scandals that plagued the administration, from Travelgate to Whitewater to impeachment, though she does not go into great detail about each one; rather, she seems content to simply state her case and move on without trying to settle too many old scores.

Along the way, she offers many apologies, though perhaps not the kind some would expect. She does not shy away from her "vast right-wing conspiracy" comment, for instance, though she does wish that she had expressed herself differently. Regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she maintains that her husband initially lied to her, as he did the rest of the country, and did not come clean until two days prior to his grand jury testimony. Calling his betrayal "the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience of my life," she explains what the aftermath was like personally and why she has elected to stand by her man. In all, Living History is an informative book that goes a long way toward humanizing one of the most recognizable, and controversial, women of our age. Shawn Carkonen

Review

Review:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is a woman of many talents, including the ability to slime fish. She learned this skill while working in Alaska one summer during college, and, although she does not define the term in her new memoir, LIVING HISTORY, it sounds like a useful talent for a future politician. The major portion of Clinton's memoir is devoted to her years as a role-redefining first lady in the White House. It is full of both the shining and the tarnished events that we all remember-health care reform efforts, the endless Whitewater investigations, her advocacy for women and children's rights, the Arafat-Sharon handshake, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the fight to protect the president from impeachment. Clinton offers a comprehensive account that runs the risk of scrolling numbingly in the manner of a film with a too long list of credits. This is particularly apparent in the abridged audio's necessary cut-to-the-chase style. Thankfully, Clinton interrupts her blow-by-blow account with emotional reactions and reflections on the events of those years. Hillary Rodham Clinton comes across as smart, determined, humorous, and-you may or may not be surprised-a nice woman. Senator Clinton narrates the abridged audio of LIVING HISTORY in a forthright, level-voiced speaking style, which she would say is typically Midwestern. She is well paced, easy to understand, and, blessedly, possesses a moderately pitched voice that is pleasant to listen to. Admittedly, during the first half-hour or so she reads so carefully that the result is rather flat, yet as her comfort grows, she begins to vary her tone and develops an easy rhythm. Although the focus on the White House years is understandable, Clinton's early years are a story unto themselves. One hopes very much that she will one day expand on her engaging, all too brief account of them. The delight is palpable in her voice as she recounts her suburban childhood in a home that embraced both her father's conservative-and-proud-of-it Republicanism and her mother's quiet-yet-stubborn Democratic stance. Clinton is equally interesting in her reflections on her own transformation from a Goldwater Girl-yes, Goldwater Girl-during her college years at Wellesley to a Democrat during the turbulent 1960s. And for all of us, even those who profess not to be curious, she is delightfully funny about falling head-over-heels in love with Bill Clinton at Yale Law School. Bearded, he looked "more like a Viking than a Rhodes scholar" and seemed like "a force of nature." Of that marriage, she says that "they started a conversation" that still continues, which, as far as this reviewer is concerned, is all one really needs to know. (Yes, she does say more.) What else? Clinton both adores and admires her daughter, Chelsea. She values loyalty in herself and others. She is a fiercely devoted friend. And she seems genuinely committed to using politics as a tool to make the world a better place. That, and the ability to slime fish. She is worth a listen. A.C.S. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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