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My Life [Paperback]

Bill Clinton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Jun 2005
President Bill Clinton's My Life is the strikingly candid self-portrait of a world leader who decided in early life to devote his intellectual and political gifts, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work, to serving the people of America and the entire world population. It is the fullest, most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written, and a testament to the positive impact that his work and his political ideals had on America and on the world. Here is the life of a great national and international figure, revealed with all his talents and contradictions. Filled with fascinating moments and insights, it is told openly, directly, in President Clinton's immediately recognisable voice. A fascinating journey through American politics, and one of the world's most famous politicians, and popular presidents.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (2 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099441357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099441359
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,323 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, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"My Life is, without question, the best written U.S. presidential tome of all time" (Douglas Brinkley Financial Times)

"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)

"By a generous measure ... the richest American presidential autobiography - no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States ... And he can write" (Larry McMurtry The New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from the inside... 26 Jun 2004
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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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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2 of 2 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A detailed account of his life 8 Aug 2004
Well here it is. The history of Bill Clinton, as narrated by Bill Clinton. A rather candid description indeed. What struck me almost immediately is that it is written like a speech rather than 'a book'. His childhood and life right up to 1992 are explained quite thoroughly, although I was amazed how much time he spends on describing his childhood. His years as President read a bit like a diary and again very detailed. I would have preferred somewhat less detail and more of a coherent story. The man is on a mission, but we only catch a glimpse of it now and then.
I like it that he only very briefly deals with the Monika Lewinski affair. Even though there was a lot of fuss about it (in the US) when it happened, in the scheme of things it is only a minor event. Bill Clinton is definitely obsessed with Kenneth Starr, but I think this is a result of Kenneth Starr's obsession with Bill Clinton.
Don't be put off by the book's length. 1,000 odd pages may appear a lot, but it is reasonably short. Politicians' memoirs often have a habit of running into thousands of pages. There also tends to be a common theme of 'how I saved the world and why I did it'. There is some of that in this book. But that's what you would expect.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 12 days 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 16 days 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 5 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 11 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 15 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
3.0 out of 5 stars My Life- almost verbatim minute by minute!
Like many people, I suspect, I bought this book expecting to gain access to elements of Bill's professional and personal life not typically available from other media sources. Read more
Published on 15 April 2010 by Earthmover
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