Living Hillary, and planning the next campaignThere has been a flood of reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book, “Living History,” which is jousting with the latest Harry Potter saga as the hottest new issue of 2003. All the usual suspects have taken their crack. Even Maureen Dowd, the acid-penned columnist at the New York Times, has produced a wicked review.
What you think of this book will depend almost entirely on what you thought about Hillary Clinton before you picked it up. I am no great admirer of hers, and probably would not have read the book had I not been asked to review it. I just don’t care that much about her travails with the man the singer Dolly Parton once referred to as “a horny little toad.”
But the book is extremely well-written, even if unintentionally humorous in a few places, so it’s not too much to ask of a Clintons-hater to at least hear her out. The book is not an “as told to” effort, although Ms. Clinton acknowledges three collaborators, one her former White House speechwriter. The narrative flows well, and her presentation of her side of several incidents are perhaps more moderate than one would expect. The descriptions of her childhood and youth are familiar to this fellow baby-boomer, although her modesty rings false when she refers offhandedly to her student leadership posts, as if to convince us that she was just an ordinary teenager and coed. Later, the book occasionally lapses into somnolence-inducing travelogues about her official trips.
Second, this is a political tract as much as an autobiography. Ms. Clinton gets in her licks on many hot-button issues, although one wonders whether she is not carrying things too far on occasion. She writes, for example, of a trip to a national park in the U.S. West: “Bill announced a historic agreement to stop a large, foreign-owned gold mine on the border of Yellowstone from threatening the pristine environment. The older I become, the more passionate I am about protecting our earth...” Yes, sir; we ’Murcans have to protect ourselves from evil foreigners, and Hillary’s here to do that, presumably in the 2008 election campaign.
Third, forget about looking for the dirt about Monica. Ms. Clinton is noble. She writes, “As a wife, I wanted to wring Bill’s neck. But he was not only my husband, he was also my President...” I can’t top Maureen Dowd’s comment on that line ― would Ms. Clinton have been as forgiving if Mr. Clinton had been only her United States trade representative?
By Hillary Rodham Clinton
Kyobo price: 40,390 won
by John Hoog