From Publishers Weekly
Gertz was one of the New York Times investigative reporters who started poking around the Whitewater case, but that doesn't mean readers should expect any four-alarm scandals from this unauthorized biography. Even with never-before-seen material from sources like White House counsel Vince Foster's notebooks, the worst Gertz and Van Natta (First Off the Tee) can say about Senator Clinton is that she may have padded her fees as a corporate lawyer and is lax about the required paperwork for hiring staff advisors. Their primary contention about Clinton-that she's a "meticulous architect of her persona" with "an almost scientific devotion to self-creation" and an unwillingness to admit to her mistakes-is hardly news, although a ballyhooed "secret pact," in which she and Bill planned from the earliest days of their marriage to maneuver him into the White House, may raise eyebrows. The profile in ambition is rich in anecdote, spending far more time on Clinton's Senate career than Carl Bernstein's bio. Far from a conservative hit job, their reportage tends to focus on public reaction to Clinton rather than to her politics, with the notable exception of her 2002 vote to support George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, including her vocal support of the theory that Saddam Hussein supported Al Qaeda, and her subsequent attempts to reinvent herself as an anti-war presidential candidate without refuting her previous position. The analysis of the early stages of her presidential campaign is somewhat hurried by necessity, but effectively supplements the balanced character study. Though they face stiff competition, Gertz and Van Natta's version of events is poised to gain traction.
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Since New York Times reporters Gerth and Van Natta's book on Hillary Clinton appears only a few weeks after Carl Bernstein's A Woman in Charge, it is difficult to review the new entry without comparing it to what came before. When put side by side, this book is the far inferior work. One reason why can be found in the authors' notes. Although Clinton was not interviewed for either work, Bernstein clearly had access to friends and family, which makes his book far richer. For instance, he takes several chapters to chronicle Hillary's formative years and includes an array of insightful quotes and commentary that helps explain what shaped her. Gerth and Van Natta wrap up the early years more quickly, using virtually nothing beyond familiar incidents and material from Clinton's autobiography. In later chapters, Her Way relies heavily on information from Kenneth Starr and others from the Office of the Independent Counsel, all of whom clearly still have an ax to grind, slanting the material. One of the "scoops" of this book is the (flimsily sourced) news that the Clintons made a pact decades ago that both would have eight-year presidential terms, making Hillary seem even more calculating than usual. In the final pages, the authors do admit that their subject has strength of will, but their tone, and most of what comes before, makes even this seem like an undesirable characteristic. Cooper, Ilene