Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy's engrossing biography of Hillary Clinton is a refreshing departure from the political hit jobs that have appeared elsewhere in print. That's not to say Hillary's Choice is a pro-Clinton book--Hillary herself would probably bristle at reading it, and her husband ("The story of the Clinton presidency has always been the story of the Clinton marriage," writes Sheehy) comes off as a bright but demented cad. Yet Hillary's Choice is broadly sympathetic and often nonjudgmental at crucial moments. Sheehy writes very little about public policy, but includes plenty of pop psychologizing. She suggests that the president is a sex addict afflicted by what "a highly qualified mental health professional who works too close to the White House to be identified" calls "dissociative identities"--what used to be known as "multiple personalities ... a sum of various identities that have been split off at some time in the past." And the president gets away with so much in his personal life because Hillary has become his unwitting enabler: "Every addict or alcoholic needs one. The enabler is usually an intimate of the addicted person who allows him to persist in self-destructive behavior by making excuses or helping him avoid the consequences of his actions."
That describes Sheehy's Hillary perfectly: a woman apparently ignorant of her husband's several flings in the White House before Monica Lewinsky came along, and then willfully deceived by the president's lies until just hours before his momentous grand-jury testimony. Theirs is a mother-son relationship in which true love must negotiate its way through astonishingly difficult periods. That's not a formula for how marriage ought to work, but it has nevertheless helped this ultimate power couple achieve enormous success. Hillary's Choice is full of on-the-record and background interviews, all assembled in an absorbing narrative. Writes Sheehy: "The saga of Bill and Hillary, with its echoes of Eleanor and Franklin, or Tracy and Hepburn with undertones of Bonnie and Clyde, is animated by melodrama, high passion, narrow escapes, and knock-down-drag-outs." And it comes alive in this biography of the most enigmatic woman of our time. --John J. Miller
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Although as First Lady it is impossible to protect one's privacy, much about Hillary Rodham Clinton's life is not really well known. Sheehy, renowned author of Passages and a political journalist for Vanity Fair, presents an objective portrait of this intelligent and tenacious woman. Not surprisingly, Clinton was a successful student although her parents offered little support. During law school, she found an intellectual equal in Bill Clinton and became determined to make him president. Through interviews with those close to Clinton, Sheehy portrays her as shrewd and passionate about the things she loves and values. Although promoted as an intimate biography of the senatorial candidate, Sheehy's book fails to delve into her true feelings and reactions and instead succumbs to defining Clinton through her husband's antics. In addition, Clinton's role as mother is only briefly examined. Despite these flaws, Sheehy's competent writing, which makes the book feel more like a novel, and the eternal appeal of information about Presidents and their families will make this popular in most public libraries.
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-Susan McCaffrey, Haslett H.S., MI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.