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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but a bit self-serving, 29 Jun. 2008
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
There are two parts to this book:the opening half describes Bill's rise from lower middle-class student to Rhodes Scholar, attorney and ascendency to governor of Arkansas. This is some of the best political writing I have read, it's basically an instruction manual on how to suceed in local politics in the US: firstly, appreciate the concerns of the electorate; secondly, discover what makes the swing-voters tick and finally, capture the middle ground from your opponents. Bill lived through interesting times: church burnings, George Wallace and opposition to the Vietnam War certainly played an important part in framing his politics. The problems with this book start in the sencond half when he finally gets to the White House. Everything is documented in scrupulous detail, one minute he is meeting with Yasir Arafat, the next opening a school in Gary, Indiana and this means that the book adopts a linear structure rather than reviewing the key achievements of Bill's presidency in seperate chapters. Maybe this is to disguise the underachievements of Bill's presidency given that his reforms of healthcare, gun control and environmental care were mainly scrapped or blocked by the GOP Congress or the GW Bush administration. There is also a slightly grating "down-homeness" about the writing where Bill describes how a month catching soft-shell crabs made him realise how important it was to ratify the START Treaty (or something). There is a severe case of sour-grapes aimed at Dole, Gingrich et al for blocking his legistlative program; (wait a minute Bill, weren't they also elected), and he misses a chance to give his side of the story re: the Lewinsky affair.
This book is OK but Bill could have taken a leaf out of his contemporary John Major's book and firstly improved the narrative structure, and secondly made it 200 pages shorter.
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Location: Darlington, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 629,859