There is no shortage of anti-Hillary Clinton books on the shelf--authors ranging from conservative critic Peggy Noonan to pop psychologist Gail Sheehy have offered volumes that must make fans of the former first lady gnash their teeth. New York
magazine columnist Michael Tomasky provides something of an antidote with Hillary's Turn
, his sympathetic chronicle of Hillary Clinton's successful election to the Senate in 2000. This is not a biography, but the story of a candidacy. Readers interested in the nitty-gritty of New York State politics will enjoy learning how Mrs. Clinton "cobbled together a coalition of urban minorities, Giuliani Democrats ... and white upstaters that, in the post-Reagan age, we've been told it was impossible for a Democrat to achieve." Much of Hillary's Turn
is given over to an almost day-by-day treatment of the campaign, from its shaky beginnings to its surprising margin of victory on Election Day. And all the controversies surrounding Mrs. Clinton receive full attention: running for office in a state where she had no roots, insisting that she really was a Yankees fan, kissing Yasir Arafat's wife on both cheeks right after she gave a speech that dubiously blamed Israelis for using "poison gas" against Palestinians, and so on.
Tomasky is clearly taken by his subject: "I was fascinated by the very fact of her normalness," he confesses, following an interview with Mrs. Clinton. "Here before me was the most polarizing woman in America.... She wasn't enigmatic or brittle; she had enthusiasms and a playful side." She likes archaeology! And The Flintstones! Tomasky goes on to insist that "she has been misinterpreted ideologically [and] that she has been mischaracterized personally." Conservatives may guffaw when he writes that her "liberalism ... is far more oriented toward fixing a problem than changing the world"--but only if they haven't read the preceding pages, in which Tomasky shows Mrs. Clinton to be a fearsomely disciplined campaigner who really did seem to care about issues that concern New York voters, such as dairy compacts and utility regulations. After reading Hillary's Choice, admirers of Mrs. Clinton will find themselves admiring her even more, while detractors will appreciate anew what a formidable opponent they have. In short, this is an excellent book about an important campaign, and an even more important politician. --John J. Miller
E. J. Dionne, Jr. author of Why Americans Hate Politics
and They Only Look Dead
Michael Tomasky is not only one of the very best political reporters in the country, but also one of the most thoughtful and fair-minded interpreters of what political events really mean. That shows in every chapter of Hillary's Turn.
It's a brilliant page-turner that takes us not only behind the scenes, but also to New York City's streets, suburban cul-de-sacs, and the upstate countryside to tell the story of an amazing and surprising campaign. It's insightful, it's entertaining, and it's very smart. -- Review