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What do you most want to know about Hillary Clinton? If it's why she stayed in her marriage to the wandering Bill, you'll probably find A Woman in Charge will satisfy your curiosity.

If your question is what kind of a president she might make, you could feel pretty clueless after reading this book. The only substantive issue since 1994 that's addressed here is her thinking about voting for the Iraq War. Democrats will probably draw the happy conclusion from A Woman in Charge that she's learned from all of her mistakes and will be virtually perfect in staying in tune with the voters and Congress. Republicans will be concerned that she will be the aggressive opponent who successfully fought off an impeachment vote and spend all of her time painting Republicans as the enemy. Both views are probably off the mark, but you won't know that from reading this book.

Carl Bernstein's view of Hillary Clinton is that her faith, her father, and her husband shaped her more than she shaped herself. A Woman in Charge portrays a sincere Methodist who feels called to make a public contribution, a docile daughter who was mistreated by her father, and a woman who put her commitment to her husband, her marriage, and her child above her self interest. Mr. Bernstein sees Hillary as a woman who would have become the best of her generation if she had stuck to hanging out with good role models and well-behaving people. He seems vaguely annoyed that falling in love with Bill Clinton caused Hillary's pathway to veer into Arkansas and highly partisan sniping. Her career since 2000 is briefly described as going back to learning the ropes the right way after having lost her original sense of purpose . . . in other words, she's running her life based on old habits and a desire to win rather than bright-eyed idealism. In a sense, you might say that this biography casts her life as a sort of tragedy for her and the nation.

Mr. Bernstein also wants to inflate her story to a bigger size than it is. Rather than seeing the defeat of health care reform as yet another Democratic failure in a series of many failures over decades, Mr. Bernstein transforms the defeat into the end of the Democratic Party and almost seems to hint that she single-handedly created the George W. Bush presidency through her efforts to defend Bill while he was president. I think his sense of drama is misplaced. Hillary Clinton was an activist First Lady, but she certainly wasn't the wheel around which all politics rotated from 1993-2000.

What does the title of the book refer to? After Bill was no longer president, Mr. Bernstein argues that Hillary could set her own course without being limited by directions and issues that Bill creates.

It's a curious choice of titles given that the book devotes almost no attention to her post White House life. You could almost argue that the title is a spin tactic of the sort that politicians and their handlers are so fond of using with journalists.

Although I haven't read any other biographies of Hillary Clinton, I suspect that this book will be far from the definitive story. I suspect that a trained historian could do a better job than a journalist could. Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure for a journalist to perceive from an objective distance.
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What do you most want to know about Hillary Clinton? If it's why she stayed in her marriage to the wandering Bill, you'll probably find A Woman in Charge will satisfy your curiosity.

If your question is what kind of a president she might make, you could feel pretty clueless after reading this book. The only substantive issue since 1994 that's addressed here is her thinking about voting for the Iraq War. Democrats will probably draw the happy conclusion from A Woman in Charge that she's learned from all of her mistakes and will be virtually perfect in staying in tune with the voters and Congress. Republicans will be concerned that she will be the aggressive opponent who successfully fought off an impeachment vote and spend all of her time painting Republicans as the enemy. Both views are probably off the mark, but you won't know that from reading this book.

Carl Bernstein's view of Hillary Clinton is that her faith, her father, and her husband shaped her more than she shaped herself. A Woman in Charge portrays a sincere Methodist who feels called to make a public contribution, a docile daughter who was mistreated by her father, and a woman who put her commitment to her husband, her marriage, and her child above her self interest. Mr. Bernstein sees Hillary as a woman who would have become the best of her generation if she had stuck to hanging out with good role models and well-behaving people. He seems vaguely annoyed that falling in love with Bill Clinton caused Hillary's pathway to veer into Arkansas and highly partisan sniping. Her career since 2000 is briefly described as going back to learning the ropes the right way after having lost her original sense of purpose . . . in other words, she's running her life based on old habits and a desire to win rather than bright-eyed idealism. In a sense, you might say that this biography casts her life as a sort of tragedy for her and the nation.

Mr. Bernstein also wants to inflate her story to a bigger size than it is. Rather than seeing the defeat of health care reform as yet another Democratic failure in a series of many failures over decades, Mr. Bernstein transforms the defeat into the end of the Democratic Party and almost seems to hint that she single-handedly created the George W. Bush presidency through her efforts to defend Bill while he was president. I think his sense of drama is misplaced. Hillary Clinton was an activist First Lady, but she certainly wasn't the wheel around which all politics rotated from 1993-2000.

What does the title of the book refer to? After Bill was no longer president, Mr. Bernstein argues that Hillary could set her own course without being limited by directions and issues that Bill creates.

It's a curious choice of titles given that the book devotes almost no attention to her post White House life. You could almost argue that the title is a spin tactic of the sort that politicians and their handlers are so fond of using with journalists.

Although I haven't read any other biographies of Hillary Clinton, I suspect that this book will be far from the definitive story. I suspect that a trained historian could do a better job than a journalist could. Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure for a journalist to perceive from an objective distance.
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on 22 September 2014
Not as good as Living History or Hard choices, possibly more factually correct, but hard going to read. Print very small find your best reading glasses if you buy this
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on 7 October 2007
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein takes a probing look at the background, character, and political career of this current U.S. senator representing New York and Democratic presidential candidate. The book is based on extensive interviews and research. Bernstein's account covers Hillary Clinton's midwestern girlhood, religious upbringing, education, marriage, her decision to stay married, her time as First Lady and a term as senator.
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on 26 August 2012
This is the first book about Hilary Clinton that I have read, and as I am neither a Republican or a Democrat (or an American) my interest in this book is purely academical. Further, Hilary seems to inspire intense emotions - both for and against her - so some people may find the book is neither too critical or or too favorable. I find it fairly objective, tending towards the sympathetic.

Bernstein quotes extensively from Hilary's main memoir, Living History; most of the chapters open with a quote from this book.

Bernstein, one of the journalists who worked on the Watergate scandal, weaves a fairly interesting narrative through Hilary's early life, her time at Little Rock as Bill Clinton's wife when he was governor, the period as First Lady, and on to her time as a senator.

The book also reveals how destructive, and largely counter-productive Washington politics is. One critic of Hillary, New Gingrich, claimed of the then First Lady, "Her thoughts sound a lot like Karl Marx. She hangs around with a lot of Marxists. All her friends are Marxists."

This is pure nonsense. Based on this quote we could say about Gingrich that he is an idiot who does not think his opinions through; he hangs around with a lot of idiots. Can anyone dispute this? I am no fan of Hilary, but it's hard to think of either Bill Clinton and her as Marxists. Idealistic and egotistical maybe, but never Marxists.

Hilary does like to force her opinions on people. As one commentator put it about Hillary, "That's what she thrives on more than anything - the battle." But battles come become expensive and time-consuming. Much of her time as First Lady seemed to be consumed by largely avoidable battles.

Hillary also thinks she is better than most people, "She thinks that she should be telling the 'little people' how to live... She talks sometimes as if she's explaining something to a third grade class." Mind you, when opponents, like Newt Gingrich display the same lack of maturity as third graders then her actions may be more forgivable.

And Hillary never liked opposition. She felt "that given responsibility and power [which she was given] she could solve virtually any problem she applied to by dint of sheer force of will, intellect, study and hard work."

Of course, the one major problem she couldn't solve was Bill's womanizing!

Having read several books on "important" political leaders like George Bush, Tony Blair and other a few others, the main subject that seems to consume them is their view that history should view them sympathetically.

Bush stated in Decision Points that he wrote the book (or a ghost writer did!) so that historians could get a better perspective of his presidency; Tony Blair gave us A Journey and was obsessed with his "legacy"; while Hilary gave us Living History.

These people are just public servants, or that is what they are employed to be. We could all be living history (our lives in other words) much more productively if these people stopped being consumed by their own self-importance and actually got on with their jobs. And in the case of Newt Gingrich, he should just grow up!
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on 1 August 2014
Excellent, as new. I had hoped it would have been the 'larger' sized paperback but no to worry!
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What do you most want to know about Hillary Clinton? If it's why she stayed in her marriage to the wandering Bill, you'll probably find A Woman in Charge will satisfy your curiosity.

If your question is what kind of a president she might make, you could feel pretty clueless after reading this book. The only substantive issue since 1994 that's addressed here is her thinking about voting for the Iraq War. Democrats will probably draw the happy conclusion from A Woman in Charge that she's learned from all of her mistakes and will be virtually perfect in staying in tune with the voters and Congress. Republicans will be concerned that she will be the aggressive opponent who successfully fought off an impeachment vote and spend all of her time painting Republicans as the enemy. Both views are probably off the mark, but you won't know that from reading this book.

Carl Bernstein's view of Hillary Clinton is that her faith, her father, and her husband shaped her more than she shaped herself. A Woman in Charge portrays a sincere Methodist who feels called to make a public contribution, a docile daughter who was mistreated by her father, and a woman who put her commitment to her husband, her marriage, and her child above her self interest. Mr. Bernstein sees Hillary as a woman who would have become the best of her generation if she had stuck to hanging out with good role models and well-behaving people. He seems vaguely annoyed that falling in love with Bill Clinton caused Hillary's pathway to veer into Arkansas and highly partisan sniping. Her career since 2000 is briefly described as going back to learning the ropes the right way after having lost her original sense of purpose . . . in other words, she's running her life based on old habits and a desire to win rather than bright-eyed idealism. In a sense, you might say that this biography casts her life as a sort of tragedy for her and the nation.

Mr. Bernstein also wants to inflate her story to a bigger size than it is. Rather than seeing the defeat of health care reform as yet another Democratic failure in a series of many failures over decades, Mr. Bernstein transforms the defeat into the end of the Democratic Party and almost seems to hint that she single-handedly created the George W. Bush presidency through her efforts to defend Bill while he was president. I think his sense of drama is misplaced. Hillary Clinton was an activist First Lady, but she certainly wasn't the wheel around which all politics rotated from 1993-2000.

What does the title of the book refer to? After Bill was no longer president, Mr. Bernstein argues that Hillary could set her own course without being limited by directions and issues that Bill creates.

It's a curious choice of titles given that the book devotes almost no attention to her post White House life. You could almost argue that the title is a spin tactic of the sort that politicians and their handlers are so fond of using with journalists.

Although I haven't read any other biographies of Hillary Clinton, I suspect that this book will be far from the definitive story. I suspect that a trained historian could do a better job than a journalist could. Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure for a journalist to perceive from an objective distance.
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on 14 November 2014
An interesting person who could eventually be an American President.
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