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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 11 November 2004
I enjoy reading memoirs/biographies. Even though I found many negative reviews, I bought the book anyway. It is a great book! From a great man! Very interesting and a very good read, keeps you going to the point you don't want to put the book down. I enjoyed readings his views on religion, and politics. It taught me a lot about politics, the South, people, marriage, personal mistakes and everything we human beings are of. There is pieces of several of my favorite memoirs in this book. The sadness, the trials and tribulations of life...the courage to succeed. I recommend this book as I do Nightmares Echo by Katlyn Stewart, A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neil, My Fractured Life by Rikki Lee Travolta and Living History by Hillary Clinton. All Highly recommended
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VINE VOICEon 2 July 2004
Although not my usual choice I read and mostly enjoyed My Life. (I think) I liked Clinton before reading his autobiography but must say at the beginning I felt he was too goody goody and got a bit fed up hearing about the lessons he learnt. I found too that there seemed to be endless lists of people. However as the story progressed I realised that many of these early people stayed with Bill Clinton all the way to the Presidency which must say something about him. I liked his references to Chelsea and thought that the strong love of both parents for her shone from the pages. Couldnt really get any impression of his relationship with his wife though. I am not political and did find many of the intricacies of American politics difficult to follow. The darker side of American politics however was explained and frightening. Could it happen here? I did enjoy reading of the many personalities that we heard of during the gulf war i.e. Madeleine Allbright, Colin Powell. Britain and Northern Ireland also discussed. I do think however that Monica Lewinski was dealt with rather briefly, however who can blame him. I did want to finish the book and I did but yet could never say whether I liked it truly or not. I think it is worth a read.
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on 5 April 2014
"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. Kindle tells me I am only 15% into the book, but to be honest I have a hard time convincing myself to continue. And I like Clinton. A lot.

But this here feels like I am having a cup of tea with him, him sitting in a rocking chair and starting to remember his life, without much interest for questions anybody has, more like him going "Oh, remember that guy?"

I have seen plenty of interviews with him, where he was asked his opinions on a lot of complicated questions of our time, and his answers were insightful, fascinating and yes, charismatic.

This book feels like somebody should have every now and then nudged him, saying "Come on Bill, snap out of your memories and talk to us."

I will read on for a bit, but my hopes aren't high.
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on 15 April 2010
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. I really wanted to get a better understanding of some of the patterns of behaviour which coloured part of Bill's time in the White House. I must confess that I was disappointed in the book.

The most interesting part of this tomb is the first third, where at least one gets an understanding of his traumatic upbringing and his determined approach to rising through the ranks of public life. As for the rest I found it to be unnecessarily detailed and long winded, difficult to read for sustained periods of time and tedious.

It begs the question as to whether the book was written as a therapy for Bill himself, rather more than being written to enlighten and inform a target audience. It is a pity that such a great international figure has produced such a disppointing record of his life.

I would not recommend the book to anyone other than those with an academic interest in the politics of Bill's tenure in office.
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on 29 June 2008
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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on 7 October 2007
'My Life' is a long and detailed autobiography of William Jefferson Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States of America. Though this book is very long, approximately one thousand pages, it was entertaining enough to read the whole thing. It is obvious that he kept a detailed diary his whole life.

Pres. Clinton's book is not the normal biography. It is written in chronological order starting with his boyhood. Though as you read it you will find yourself jumping all over time. He does this whenever he feels he has to defend his actions. And I felt the whole book is about trying to defend his legacy and set the record straight. The book seems very self-serving and he seems more concerned about what we think of him, instead of just writing what transpired.

Though I did find his book very easy to read. I did feel as if he I was sitting on a covered front porch with a class of ice tea and listening as Pres. Clinton spins an interesting tale. I had no problem reading the entire book and did find it enjoyable despite his agenda. He does share some of his shortcomings and how he overcame them. This is also a story of a boy making good in America. He comes from rural state and used every opportunity America offers each and every one of us. And that message is worth sharing.

Do not pick up this book looking for dark details of his life. You will not find it. But I did learn much about how he saw himself and his view on affairs that affected or touched his life. I do recommend reading this book.
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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. Unfortunately, the new reflections only occur about every 50 pages or so. Most of the best reflections are in the first half of the book.
The main ingredient that is missing from the book is the tremendous personal appeal that Mr. Clinton excites in many people. That element of his success is largely hidden in this account. He has a genuine liking for others, a sense of commitment to helping them and an incredible stamina for taking on challenges. It would have been good to combine this book with a CD of reminiscences about peoples' reactions to him at very times.
You also don't get much of a sense of his high intelligence, encyclopedic memory, and grasp of complex situations. I have heard Mr. Clinton go on for hours about difficult policy questions without notes and without knowing what questions would be asked. In fact, he tends to downplay those skills.
The material about his presidency would have been greatly enhanced with advice for future presidents.
The end of the book has an almost whiny tone in complaining about Right Wing conspiracies and recalcitrant Republicans in Congress. That part could have been edited down further. You'll get the idea after the first few pages of this discussion.
Frankly, I would not have finished the book except that many of my friends are in the book, and I found myself looking forward to their appearances in the text and what would be said about them.
For most people, you can read the first half and skip the rest.
If you really want to know about certain parts of his life and want to skip the others, the index can give you a condensed books version of his life.
If you did not find him to be a person who inspired you, I suggest that you skip the book.
Seek to do the best for all!
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VINE VOICEon 15 January 2008
My review is based not on the book but on the audiocd. I had heard that the book was very long and also that a lot of it went into detail about particular bills in the US that were up for passing/veto etc.

As a Brit I wanted to get a more summarised view without having a three week read. This I got expertly by listening to the 6 hour abridged CD version.

With the CD version you get all the main parts, the growing up, the family life that shaped his, the running for election, the white house, and a review of things that followed.

Im sure its a bit biased and you have to read other books to get a clear picture, but it does give an incredibly interesting insight to Bil Clinton, what makes him tick, and the american political environment in which he had to work in.

Fully absorbing and to hear it read by the president himself adds a much more personal encounter.

A must listen too audiocd.
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on 3 September 2008
I was torn, reading this book. On the one hand, there can be little doubt that Clinton was the best-educated U.S. President (and I mean in the true sense educated, not just that he attended Georgetown, Yale and Oxford) for a generation, perhaps of all in fact, BUT BUT BUT he leaves a lot of questions unanswered in these memoirs: the women...well, that is really just his own private or family affair, but also there is left out a lot of how he became President. He was assisted by the fact that Arkansas has the lowest educational-qualificational level in the USA (with Mississippi) and so a young man with Oxford, Yale and Georgetown (and attorney qualification) behind him has a head start. Also, the taxpayers of the state had not raised the Governor's salary for 60 years! That reduced the field too.

I was more interested in how, having become Governor for the second time (after having been chucked out after an unsuccessful first term), he was put "in the frame" to be Democratic nominee for the Presidency. He says, offhand, that he attended the Bilderberger secret (they say "private"...Denis Healey has been a notable participant over the years) conference in Europe in 1991. Hillary mentions it too, in her memoirs, "Living History", by the way. These meetings, set up after WW2, have been said to perform the function of beauty contests by which hidden groupings influence the supposedly "democratic" politics of the "West". It seems that his attendance worked for Bill Clinton, anyway...

Like "Obliterate Iran" Hillary in her memoirs (Living History), Bill presents himself, probably partly truthfully, as a caring sharing good ol' boy, but not only does he engage in the despicable "sport" of shooting tired ducks that fly to Arkansas from Canada for the winter, but he says he "had no qualms" sentencing some people to death, in effect, by refusing to commute their sentences. He says they deserved it. Perhaps so, but his job is, at his discretion, to exercise mercy, not justice. He sentenced others to death more directly when his missiles hit various countries, including Sudan (he says a chemical plant, others say a sweet factory). And he bombed Serbia, killing thousands. Clinton is erudite enough to recognize the quotation from Saint-Just: "No-one can rule guiltlessly"...

He says that the American-Jewish community "did a lot for me". Hm...certainly he had no problem putting on a skullcap and attending a synagogue prior to election as President, as I saw on American TV myself (I lived in the USA at the time of his election in 1992). That seems to be a rite of passage for all those aspiring to the Oval Office now. Without that stamp of approval from Zionism, the candidate has no chance of funding or election.

He does feel the need to explain just why he gave in to Israeli demands to pardon the FBI most wanted fugitive Marc Rich (in exile in Switzerland) in the last days of his Presidency. To my mind, his explanation did not convince.

There is a huge amount relating to the Special Counsel invesigating him and Hillary over Whitewater. To my mind, you have to be a very political American to value that part of the book. As for the domestic policy details, ditto. The truth is that there are anyway so many "checks and balances" in the US system that it is hard for even a 2-term President to really change anything much.

Overall, I enjoyed the first half of this massive tome (good value on Amazon at about one pound, btw!) more than, especially, the last third or so and I am sure that he would make a great conversationalist, but I was left with doubts about just how decent and "nice" he really is, under the surface.
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on 16 December 2007
I bought the audio book version of Bill Clinton's My Life autobiography. It was fascinating from start to finish. Bill Clinton is an everyday man who I'm convinced was driven to do more for the country and for others than he was given credit for. Underlying strength of character shows through even with his very human failings that everyone has. I listen to it in the car while driving and I've listened through it twice now. I hope he writes another one about the next chapters...
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