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3.6 out of 5 stars
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2014
This is a thoroughly researched and well written presentation of the State Department under Hillary Clinton. This serves as an insightful book. Readers learn how foreign policies are made and how they were fashioned by the active style that Hillary Clinton used. This bill is useful to readers interested in international relations as well as Presidential politics.

The following are notes from this book for students of Political Science and International Relations:

Hillary R. Clinton (HRC) has a “bias for action” in seeking action on problems, the authors observe.

The Senators who most helped HRC’s 2008 Presidential campaign included John Kerry, Bob Casey, Jay Rockefeller, and Patrick Leahy.

Sen. Claire McCaskill had been helped by Bill and Hillary Clinton in her 2006 Senate campaign. McCaskill later said of Bill “he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.” HRC canceled a fundraiser she had scheduled for McCaskill. McCaskill tearfully apologized yet admitted she didn’t want to be caught alone in the same elevator with HRC. McCaskill was the first female Senator to endorse Obama over HRC.

The endorsements of Obama by Ted Kennedy and John Lewis were personally painful to Bill Clinton.

Clinton aids would note of those who betrayed HRC: “Bill Richardson, investigated. John Edwards, disgraced by scandal Chris Dodd, stepped down, Ted Kennedy, dead.:

The Clintons were upset by some junior politicians such as Rep, Jason Altmire. Altmire worked by Hillary Clinton’s health care task force and has been helped get elected to Congress by the Clintons. HRC won Altimire’s district by 31 percentage points. Alltmire upset HRC by remaining neutral. Bill Clinton would later campaign for Altmire’s successful primary opponent, who thought would lose the seat to a Republican.

The Clintons demanded and rewarded loyalty. They often acted accordingly in Democratic primaries.

Lisa Muscatine, a leading speechwriter for HRC, now co-owns the Politics and Prose bookstore.

Bill Clinton and his advisors from his successful 1996 campaign are often blamed for creating the wrong campaign strategy and tone for HRC in 2008.

Obama asked HRC to be his Secretary of State. David Alexrod asked how they could work together after such a tough battle against each other. Obama replied “she was my friend before she was my opponent. She’s smart, she’s tough, she has a status in the world. I’m sure she’ll be a loyal member of the team. I have no concern about her.” Biden supported naming HRC.

The first Cabinet Secretary Obama chose was Tim Geithner at Treasury. HRC was his second decision.

HRC initially turned down the offer. Obama asked her to think about it. For several days, HRC did not want to accept. Some aides were against her accepting.

HRC turned down the offer three ties. Obama asked her to wait to the next day for her final answer. Obama agreed to let HRC pick her own people at the State Department.

Cheryl Mills was selected as Chief of Staff and Counselor to HRC. She was known for her loyalty to HRC. Mills knew how to keep egos in check.

Hama Abedi was HRC’s “most trusted personal aide”. She traveled with HRC everywhere HRC traveled. Her critics claimed Adedin would make small changes to things and pretend she fixed a problem.

Jake Sullivan was third most key aide. He had prepared HRC for political debates. Sullivan was named to lead the Policy Planning Office.

HRC has criticized Gen. David Petaeus for what she believed was an overly optimistic view of the Iraq War. She mended any rift between them and ask Petraeus to work on issues involving Afghanistan and Pakistan along with her trusted aide Richard Holbrooke.

Holbrooke had wanted to become Deputy Secretary of State. Obama aides remained upset over criticisms Holbrooke made of Obama during the campaign. Obama picked Jim Steinberg for the position. Steinberg had hoped to be picked for the National Security Advisor position. Steinberg insisted on being made a permanent member of the National Security Commission. Obama agreed. HRC approved of this as it gave the State Department two Council seats. Steinberg also was trusted by the Clintons.

Jack Lew was named to a post newly created by Congress as Deputy Secretary for Management and Budget. Lew had been an executive at Citigroup.

George Mitchell agreed to be a Special Envoy to the Middle East.

There were some tensions between lower level State Department aides between those who had supported Obama versus those who had supported Clinton.

HRC set up to gain the respect of Obama and of White House aides.

Secretary Geithner spoke Mandarin and had studied China at Dartmouth College. HRC sought to exert dominance on Chinese policies. Geithner was personally fine with this although his aides were upset. Chinese economic policies were reviewed by the State Department.

HRC sought a double digit increase in funding of the State Department. Peter Orszag, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, approved a small cut in their funding. HRC had Jack Lew, himself a former OMB Director, state this was unacceptable. Orszag then approved a spending increase of slightly more than 1%. HRC wanted more. HRC allied with the Defense Department and the National Security Council who agreed the State Department needed more money. HRC went to Obama and received what she wanted, which was a 6% increase. Included in this was funding for embassy protections in war zones.

Defense Secretary Bill Gates, a moderate Republican, and HRC, a hawkish Democrat, formed an alliance. The Defense Department had increased its role in foreign policy making under the previous President and both Gates and HRC believed that was wrong. Their united front made them a powerful team.

Holbrooke wanted increased troops in Afghanistan to then force the Taliban to negotiate for peace. Obama aides feared getting involved in a war which could cost Obama reeleciton. Holbrooke believed achieving peace would be far better than withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and getting nothing in return.

Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wanted to reduce troops in Afghanistan. Obama initially approve 21,000 troops and then increased this to 40,000. Negotiations did not become feasible. The State Department became allied with the Defense Department in supporting the war effort. Obama found Holbrooke abrasive.

HRC fundraiser for an American pavilion at the Chinese World Fair, She used some of her contacts, some of whom had also contributed to the Clinton Foundation, such as executives at Microsoft, Yum!, Chevron, General Electric, Honeywell, Intel, Bloomberg, Pepsi, Pfeizer, the National Basketball Association, Dow Cheimcal, Citigroup, Proctor and Gamble, and Sidney Harmon.

HRC seldom fired people and often stood by people forced out for mistakes or other reasons. She and Bill personally thanked P.J. Crowley, the Assistant State Department Secretary for Public Affairs, who stepped down after criticizing the government’s handling of Bradley Manning who had leaked documents to Wikileaks.

HRC fell and broke her elbow. This caused her to miss some foreign relations trips. It also diminished her influence while she was healing.

HRC reviewed policies on same sex marriages for State Department employees. This included housing and medical expense and made travel and evacuation procedures better for same sex couples.

HRC began her day going over news clips, briefing books, and funny cat videos. Aides noted that she read the memos. In her four years as Secretary, she traveled over a million miles.

Jared Cohen of the Planning office observed that Green Movement demonstrators in the Iranian elections would be protesting in Iran and tweeting to the rest of the world during a time when Twitter had planned to shut down for maintenance. Cohen spontaneously convinced Twitter to change its maintenance hours. He did not inform his superiors and did not realize he had violated the policy that the State Department did not intervene in elections. Further, the Green Movement did not want to be seen as supported by Americans. The press found out about what Cohen had done. HRC read the New York Times article on what Cohen did and replied “this is great. This is exactly what we should be doing.”

HRC traveled to war areas of Congo. She had the US provide $17 million in rape prevention and help to women raped by Congolese soldiers.

HRC knew that public criticism of a policy was not a reason to abandon that policy.

HRC avoided discussing domestic policies with anyone other than Obama, Emmanuel, and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina. She was useful in advising on people she knew in Congress.

HRC sought to have more effective sanctions against companies doing business with Iran.She negotiated that if Russia and China helped limit Iran’s weapons capabilities that U.S. sanctions would not apply on their companies. HRC knew that unilateral sanctions would be less effective than in getting international help on limiting Iran’s capacities.

HRC negotiated a treaty with Russia where inspectors could inspect their weapons. Most Republican Senators objected to the treaty and it did not appear to have the two thirds of Senators required for ratification. HRC and Biden met with Senators. 71 voted for ratification, four more than the minimum necessary.

Holbrooke died of a heart attack. Holbroke was forceful and at times abrasive. His passing removed a barrier between some Obama and HRC aides.

Protestors in Egypt rose up against their President, Hosni Mubarak. HRC was cautious as Mubarek, which an autocrat, was an ally. The U.S. preferred democracies, yet was leery especially once Mubarek was toppled and the Muslim Brotherhood was elected into power in Egypt.

The rise in demonstrations led to what is called the Arab Spring. Demonstrators led to ousting the government of Tunisia.

HRC urged Middle East leaders to change their own societies before others changed them. She warned that terrorist groups and extremists were appealing to those in poverty. She pledged the U.S. would assist countries that rose to improve their societies.

HRC supported the revolution against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. She worked with various parties in forming an alliance of the opposition that each could live with. HRC sought to prevent genocide by Qaddafi against the rebels. France and England joined in supporting the revolution. HRC avoided upsetting NATO or the Arab nations. She achieved the use of military force over the objections of Secretary Gates.

Leon Panetta advised HRC of secret intelligence as to the likely whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Since the information was not certain, Panette feared Obama would hesitate and miss this opportunity to kill bin Laden. HRC joined in urging for action. Admiral Bill McRaven discussed every possible contingency. Biden was worried bin Laden might not be there Gates questioned the raid. HRC favored the raid. Obama agreed to the raid, which was successful in killing bin Laden.

Burma allowed some economic and political reforms. The U.S. lifted some its sanctions against Burma. HRC visited Burma. No U.S. Secretary of States had been to Burma in half a century.

Ambassadpr Gene Cretz in Libya felt “there was no credible threat” and that the Bengazi computer had as much security as did others in conflict areas. Cretz was replaced by Chris Stevens. Stevens requested two Mobile Security Deployment units to remain yet his request was denied and the units were transferred away from Bengazi even though an IED had exploded and created a large hole in the outer wall. Stevens objected to reducing the Bengazi compound from 34 security personnel to 7. The increase in personnel was placed in Tripoli which also saw increased threats. The request for more security personnel for Bengazi was denied by Pat Kennedy, the Undersecretary of State for Management. There is no indication this request went to any more superior than Kennedy.

20 to 125 people attacked the compound with explosives, gunfire, and setting fires. A CIA team arrived yet no before Sean Smith had died and Stevens was missing. Stevens was later found dead. The CIA team held off attackers for several hours until reinforcements arrived. The reinforcements were attacked with five mortar blasts over 90 seconds that killed two CIA contractors.

Susan Rice incorrectly stated the Benghazi conflict was similar to a demonstration that happened the same day in Cairo. HRC stated the attackers were terrorists, which conflicted with Rice’s portrayal. Congressional critics attacked these inconsistencies. Some argued HRC did not act quickly or effectively. The authors note there is little to substantiate those charges and that she responded quickly. On the other side, Sen. Lindsay Graham declared that HRC “got away with murder.”

HRC intended to be Secretary for one term. She declined to serve in Obama’s second term.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2014
There are several books about Hillary Clinton that have been advertised recently (including her latest memoir) but this is a good wrap-up of her most recent role as Secretary of State. The authors are obviously well-connected and provided a lot of inside information (although with many unnamed sources). Clinton is a compelling subject and her personality shines through here as she deals with working for a former campaign rival and managing expectations as the most visible face for foreign policy. While the book did highlight some of her shortcomings, I thought it was mostly a favorable account of her last seven years of work. I found this book extremely interesting but definitely political and I am sure it will not be for everyone. I received this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2014
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton tells the story of Hillary Rodham Clinton from the time of her 2008 defeat for the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States, to the present, as she contemplates another run for the big prize. Written by Politico White House Bureau Chief Jonathan Allen and White House correspondent (for The Hill newspaper) Amie Parnes, the book pieces together a number of conversations from sources obviously close to the former First Lady and Secretary of State, to give the reader insight into her remarkable drive and energy.

The story begins with the loss of the 2008 campaign, the post-mortem and laying of blame (mostly at the feet of Clinton's campaign manager Patty Solis-Doyle). It goes on to describe the courtship of Hillary by President Barack Obama into the key cabinet position of Secretary of State, the mending of fences and healing of wounds remaining from the hard fought campaign between the two party front-runners and their staffs, and the resulting trust gap that existed. A power struggle develops over whether key positions in the State Department will be filled by Obama's people or Clinton's, and we are told of the strength of confidence possessed by the new Secretary of State in setting her own terms for accepting the President's challenge.

The book goes on to describe the remarkable transition of how Hillary Clinton went from becoming Obama's chief rival to his hardest working and most trusted cabinet member. A secondary story is told of how Bill Clinton goes from becoming one of the people that Obama dreads contact with to becoming an important asset to his re-election in 2012. The authors also tell us of how the Clintons continue to reward their friends and smite their enemies in electoral contests, even at timed when this may conflict with the wishes of the President.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book for me was the recounting of the details of some of the most notorious moments of Hillary Clinton's tenure at the State Department, including the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the attack on the Benghazi State Consulate (in which Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed). The book also describes that incident's significance in the 2012 Presidential election, the subsequent senate hearings and the fallout from the incident on the political career of Hillary Clinton.

The final section of the book explores the issue of whether or not Hillary Clinton will run for President and what steps are being taken to prepare for such an eventuality. Although the authors are coy on the answer, they spend far too many pages in the book for the case to be other than their unspoken assumption that a Hillary for President in 2016 Campaign is a done deal. They even speculate on the make-up of the campaign team and fundraising operations.

The authors think very highly of their subject, writing of her ability and work ethic in glowing terms. At times this is suspect, such as when they tend to suggest that she may have been the tipping point for President Obama's decision to go after Osama Bin Laden. The authors are not overly blatant in their praise for their subject, but this book should not be confused with an objective assessment of Hillary Clinton.

At times the book is too full of dropped names of political operatives and staffers that mean nothing to the average reader, and this tends to slow the book down. At other times, stories are told of incidents involving staffers and insiders which might be of interest to Washington based gossip circles, but add little to the history of the book's subject. As a result, only about 40% of this book will hold the reader's interest captive, while the rest is best saved for Washington insiders.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2014
If you’re a lover of books, and burdened with the ability to read way too fast, what do you bring on a 17 hour flight from New York City to Ethiopia?
If you’re a political junkie and lover of all things electorate, you pack “HRC” by Jonathan Allen, which documents the time between Hillary’s defeat during the 2008 Democratic primary and selection, and ultimately her political rebirth as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
I remember reading “Game Change” a couple of years ago and thinking that to have been on the very inside of either the Obama or Clinton campaign would have been both inspirational and disheartening. In order to achieve as much as Hillary Clinton has, it must have been heart-breaking for her to lose in the primary to a young unknown senator from Illinois.
HRC takes the reader through just about every emotion – and brings you inside the campaign ‘war’ rooms and gives detailed accounts of the choices Hillary had to make including her carefully selected words during her concession speech, paving the way for a new relationship with the future President Obama.
If there’s one take away from HRC, it is that Hillary tried, at all times, to be fully aware of the mistakes her presidential campaign made and has worked diligently since 2008 to reinvent herself – something she has done many times over the years, each time rising higher than her fans and adversaries believed possible.
Jonathan Allen does a wonderful job of bringing you inside the White House and foreign affairs offices around the world and shows you a woman who is powerful and smart enough to know that as a woman, her strength has to be countered by self-deprecation and humor. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the 2008 election and the woman who one day may be known as our first female president.
This was my first selection from the many wonderful books available on Blogging for Books and as a note to anyone reading this review: "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2014
Well-researched, but definitely slanted. How is it possible to write a book with multiple chapters about the Benghazi scandal and not mention Hillary's remark to the murdered men's families that the government would punish the video maker who supposedly provoked the "riot"? At the time she said this (at the ceremony when the coffins were returned), she knew the video had nothing to do with it. And what does her remark, even if she thought the video was involved, say about her views on the First Amendment? I was disappointed in the author's lack of objectivity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2014
As other reviewers have pointed-out, this book is replete with the names of third-tier players, many of which are now long gone. Too many details about the squabbling of these uninteresting people whose behaviour is borderline childish and petulant. The book does offer some insight into the workings of the executive branch ... but one is left wishing for one's previous blissfull ignorance.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2014
Since the early 1990’s, there has been a Clinton in the news. It all began with Bill being elected as POTUS is 1992 and 1996. This was followed by Hillary’s election to the Senate. This was followed by a failed attempt by Hillary to defeat Barrack Obama for the presidency in 2008. Her defeat was followed by confirmation as Secretary of State, a cabinet office which she held well into 2012. Suffice to say that Americans have come to know the Clinton family very well through both scandal and service. In their new book, “HRC; State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Rodham Clinton” veteran Washington journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes have put together a snapshot of a very specific 4-5 year period of Hillary’s life. They chronicle her rise from the ashes of a failed presidential bid and subsequent work as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

The opening of the books is reminiscent of a funeral service which lay to rest a failed political campaign. The authors reveal the thought process of Hillary’s camp, referred to as “Hillarylanders” as they attempt to determine what happened and who they need to blame. Allen and Parnes trace the steps and connect the dots as to how Hillary goes from defeated candidate and Obama’s most visible rival to Obama’s most trusted and influential cabinet member. The great majority of the book details the highs and lows of Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State. The high points include the tracking and death of Osama bin Laden and the facilitation of the democratic efforts among nations involved in the Arab Spring. The lowest point of her tenure include the mishandling and leadership failure in protecting US personnel and American interests during the attacks in Benghazi, Libya where four American died. The authors dedicate an entire chapter to this tragedy, tragedy that will likely haunt Hillary the rest of her political life. The final part of this book deals with the possibility of Hillary’s presidential run in 2016.

There are two words that describe the Clinton political machine that comes through in HRC so very clear: loyalty and revenge. You need to look no further than the opening chapter, “Hillary’s Hit List”. One of the things that get in the way of the effectiveness of this book is the consistent muddying of the storyline through name-dropping. The authors seem to want the reader to know all of the people that personally know. This book is as much about Bill as it is Hillary. Although this book is intended to chronicle rebirth to the political landscape, the authors tell what Bill was to doing all along the way to facilitate that rebirth. This book proves a point that may have been unintended, but is still crystal clear. The point is that if it had not been for Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton, Hillary would likely have enjoyed a much smaller public stage.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2014
Another Puff Piece for Hillary. When will someone write from an objective standpoint? Interesting but not as insightful as I had hoped.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014
The book seemed a puff piece for HRC. I also doubted that the author was completely honest regarding some facts, or regarding HRC.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2014
The authors are clearly from the left. Many of the quotes come from members of Hillary's team who are completely blinded by her brilliance. Every time they discuss the Republican's complaints they consider it "political". Maybe some of these complaints are simply accurate. It dawned on me that when the Republican's screw up, the Dems know that they can just sit back and let the press dig up all the dirt. When the Dems screw up, the press goes silent, so the Republicans are forced to demand answers, cause the press will not. The authors are clearly in love with Bill Clinton too. Pages and pages about Bill Clinton raising money and votes for Obama. What a selfless guy.
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