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My Life [Hardcover]

Bill Clinton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 21.96 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Jun 2004
President Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas, three months after his father died in a traffic accident. When he was four years old, his mother wed Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school, he took the family name. As a delegate to Boys Nation while in high school, he met President John Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden. The encounter led him to enter a life of public service. Clinton was graduated from Georgetown University and in 1968 won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He received a law degree from Yale University in 1973, and entered politics in Arkansas. He was defeated in his campaign for Congress in Arkansas's Third District in 1974. The next year he married Hillary Rodham and in 1980 and Chelsea, their only child, was born. Clinton and his running mate, Tennessee's Senator Albert Gore Jr., then 44, represented a new generation in American political leadership. For the first time in 12 years both the White House and Congress were held by the same party. But that political edge was brief; the Republicans won both houses of Congress in 1994. In 1998, as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions with a young woman White House intern, Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was tried in the Senate and found not guilty of the charges brought against him. He apologized to the nation for his actions and continued to have unprecedented popular approval ratings for his job as president.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st edition edition (21 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091795273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091795276
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 16.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's My Life is a refreshingly candid look at the former president as a son, brother, teacher, father, husband and public figure. Clinton painstakingly outlines the history behind his greatest successes and failures, including his dedication to educational and economic reform, his war against a "vast right-wing operation" determined to destroy him, and the "morally indefensible" acts for which he was nearly impeached. My Life is autobiography as therapy--a personal history written by a man trying to face and banish his private demons.

Clinton approaches the story of his youth with gusto, sharing tales of giant watermelons, nine-pound tumours, a charging ram, famous mobsters and jazz musicians and a BB gun standoff. He offers an equally energetic portrait of American history, pop culture and the evolving political landscape, covering the historical events that shaped his early years (namely the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr and JFK) and the events that shaped his presidency (Waco, Bosnia, Somalia). What makes My Life remarkable as a political memoir is how thoroughly it is infused with Clinton's unassuming, charmingly pithy voice:

I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgments can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain.

However, that same voice might tire readers as Clinton applies his penchant for minute details to a distractible laundry list of events, from his youth through the years of his presidency. Not wanting to forget a single detail that might help account for his actions, Clinton overdoes it--do we really need to know the name of his childhood barber? But when Clinton sticks to the meat of his story--recollections about his mother, his abusive stepfather, Hillary, the campaign trail and Kenneth Starr--the veracity of emotion and revelations about "what it is like to be President" make My Life impossible to put down.

To Clinton, "politics is a contact sport" and while he claims that My Life is not intended to make excuses or assign blame, it does portray him as a fighter whose strategy is to "take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could". While My Life is primarily a stroll through Clinton's memories, it is also a scathing rebuke--a retaliation against his detractors, including Kenneth Starr, whose "mindless search for scandal" protected the guilty while "persecuting the innocent" and distracted his administration from pressing international matters (including strikes on al Qaeda). Counterpunch indeed.

At its core, My Life is a charming and intriguing if flawed book by an intriguing and flawed man who had his worst failures and humiliations made public. Ultimately, the man who left office in the shadow of scandal offers an honest and open account of his life, allowing readers to witness his struggle to "drain the most out of every moment" while maintaining the character with which he was raised. It is a remarkably intimate, persuasive look at the boy he was, the president he became and the man he is today. --Daphne Durham,


"Bill Clinton has given an unprecedented story of a White House life and the roads that led to it" (Peter Stothard The Times)

"You can't help but feel you're in the company, one on one, of the man himself... The narrative is engaging... The accounts of high-wire diplomacy... are all riveting" (Jonathan Freedland Guardian)

"His book tells, in an extraordinary way, a truly heartening story of American democracy" (Peter Jay Evening Standard) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from the inside... 26 Jun 2004
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
I must confess I am a fan of political autobiographies. The first one I ever read was the Nixon autobiography; I've since read the various presidential and prime ministerial works past and present. Against these various tomes, Bill Clinton's memoirs, 'My Life', stacks up well. There is nothing earth-shattering and revealing here; there are some different nuances and a little more candour involved, but not a lot. After all, Clinton is still a relatively young man, and could have other political aspirations (he wouldn't be the first president to also serve in the Congress after the presidency), and of course, his wife has an active political life of her own, which I am certain was a major consideration in the tone and content of this volume.
I was fortunate to get advance reading material of this before the day of release, and got the local bookseller to permit me a purchase after midnight last night. Of course, like many people, I turned first to the part about Monica Lewinsky, who, for better or worse, will be a defining image of Clinton's presidency for the foreseeable future - history will likely be kinder to Clinton (as it ended up being for Nixon, and others who have stumbled in office), but for the present, this image holds true. There is a typical Clinton-esque mixture of self-reproach and blaming of others. Clinton's greatest ire is saved for Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor, who Clinton characterises as being the tip of the spear of a vast right-wing conspiracy including conservative white southerners who never worked for civil rights.
He discusses the icy situation with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea after the revelations, and how he slept on the sofa in different rooms for a significant period after the revelations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but inspiring nonetheless 17 Aug 2004
Jed Bartlet, the fictional US President in TV's The West Wing, is a political hero of mine, so it's perhaps not surprising that I find myself instinctively warming to Bill Clinton. The Bartlet character is, in part, a reflection of Clinton - a deeply religious, hard working, liberal internationalist, driven by the desire to serve community and country. A self-styled 'New Democrat', Clinton first came to national prominence as Governor of Arkansas in the 1980s. Architect of the once-fashionable 'Third Way', Clinton modernised the progressive message by co-opting core ideas from the conservative agenda (fiscal hawkishness, family values, work not welfare) and infusing them with a strong belief in social justice and opportunity for all. Along the way, he revitalised a factious Democratic Party, forced the Republicans to the wilderness of the radical right and blazed a trail for his soulmate Tony Blair to follow in Britain after 1994.
I approached this autobiography with some trepidation - as well as a dictionary of American idioms and an atlas. Though a keen student of politics, I am a novice with regard to American government; its systems, structures and procedures seem arcane and baffling. Another potential obstacle for the British reader is the vernacular of American politics, a problem compounded by the folksy, conversational style of Clinton's writing. Hence, I'm still not au fait with the politics of campaign finance reform, 'soft money' and the rest and Clinton's confession that, during preparations for the 1996 Presidential TV debates, George Mitchell "cleaned my clock" just mystified me!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Bill Clinton's autobiography 19 Mar 2005
By A Customer
I don't normally read autobiographies of politicians, but read this and really got into it. Yes, it is long - but don't be put off by other people's comments re: it's length - just settle down and enjoy what is an interesting read.
Had inspired me to pick up other political autobiographies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Friends and Fans of Bill and Historians 9 Aug 2004
In the acknowledgments, former president Clinton thanks his editor, Robert Gottlieb, for helping him make the book half as long and twice as good. That man should get five stars! This book is way too long in its current form and not good enough.
Unless you are a friend or a big fan of Mr. Clinton, you will find this book not worth the effort. Fully half is devoted to descriptions of daily events during his two presidential terms. Almost all of the events you will probably remember from living through those years. Although these events were needed for completeness, there was little added that was new. I found the background descriptions of assisting the negotiations between Israel, Syria, and the Palestinians to be the most interesting part of the presidential section.
The best part of the book comes in the period before his first election in Arkansas. How did a young man from a very troubled home end up on the fast track for early political success? Although you will not be able to totally answer that question from reading this book, you will certainly know a lot more than you did before you started. I was especially impressed by the incredible loyalty that he showed to his stepfather, despite the awful treatment that his mother received. I did not realize that Mr. Clinton had only legally adopted the last name of Clinton after his mother remarried his stepfather.
If you are looking for lots of insights into his personal inclination to cause pain in his marriage through affairs, you won't find anything new. You will find out the day when his wife stopped making him sleep on the sofa in the White House.
Although the book is mostly a diary of what he did and when, there are occasional moments of reflection in the book that make reading it rewarding.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
He writes brilliantly and shares his views on what he faced as President in a unique and honest fashion. Brilliant.
Published 1 month ago by FAH
2.0 out of 5 stars It feels like he sat down at some point and thought:
"Right, so what did I do all these years?" And then he starts to recount the people he met, the places he's been to, the books he read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Duder
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
Excellent read he was one great president and his record speaks for itself history willttreat bill Clinton well in the future
Published 4 months ago by james woodcock
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is worth reading
I have always wanted to read this book, although political details were a bit too much in the book, the rest is good.
Published 9 months ago by sunny Yu
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill's. Book
Fascinating read and plenty of it this is what autobiographies are all about still a little pricey but worth the money
Published 15 months ago by speedyt
5.0 out of 5 stars What Is 'Is', Is
I can't help but begin this review with that famous Clinton solipsism: the definition of 'is'. We don't really find out in the end what is 'is', or rather what 'is' was, but what... Read more
Published 20 months ago by T. T. Rogers
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed!
I bought a used book and it lacked 35 papers inside (from chapter 1 to half of chapter 5). So disappointed!
Published on 14 Sep 2011 by David Do
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
What a tedious book. Although I am British I am interested in USA politics and hoped this book would give me some insight into decisions in the US during his Presidency, many of... Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by Kborom
4.0 out of 5 stars scribble, scribble, scribble Mr Gibbon
Blimey, Bill Clinton doesn't half go on. Then again it is mostly a delight to listen to him, his views are advanced and he is one of the leading statesmen of the 20th and 21st... Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by D. J. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
This is a great book one I have read twice now as their is a lot of information to digest in one reading. Read more
Published on 15 Dec 2010 by Brawny Withed
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