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Living History Paperback – April 19, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

As with most books written by politicians while in office (or at least aiming for one), Living History is, first and foremost, safe. There are interesting observations and anecdotes, the writing is engaging, and there is enough inside scoop to appeal to those looking for a bit of gossip, but there are no bombshells here and it is doubtful the book will change many minds about this polarizing figure. This does not mean the work is without merit, however, for Hillary Clinton has much to say about her experience as first lady, which is the primary focus of the book. Those interested in these experiences and her commentary on them will find the book worth reading; those looking for revelations will be disappointed.

Beginning with a brief outline of her childhood, college years, introduction to politics, and her courtship with Bill Clinton, Clinton covers a wide variety of topics: life on the campaign trail, her troubled tenure as leader of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform, meeting with foreign leaders, and her work on human rights, to name a few. By necessity, she also addresses the various scandals that plagued the administration, from Travelgate to Whitewater to impeachment, though she does not go into great detail about each one; rather, she seems content to simply state her case and move on without trying to settle too many old scores.

Along the way, she offers many apologies, though perhaps not the kind some would expect. She does not shy away from her "vast right-wing conspiracy" comment, for instance, though she does wish that she had expressed herself differently. Regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she maintains that her husband initially lied to her, as he did the rest of the country, and did not come clean until two days prior to his grand jury testimony. Calling his betrayal "the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience of my life," she explains what the aftermath was like personally and why she has elected to stand by her man. In all, Living History is an informative book that goes a long way toward humanizing one of the most recognizable, and controversial, women of our age. Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Whether or not you believe that the Clintons were victims of what Hillary calls a "vast right-wing conspiracy," this memoir has enough information and personality to appeal to people on both sides of the political fence. Most will not be surprised by Clinton's reading style, as it is similar (though not nearly as formal) to the manner in which she has delivered many television addresses. Her Midwestern accent is evenly pitched and pleasant. She easily laughs at herself, and fluctuations in her delivery render her emotions nearly palpable. Indeed, the casual straightforwardness of her delivery will engender a sense of trust and respect in listeners. Though she does not offer much new material, she is adept at disclosing many "backstage" details-from the personal, like her inner feelings about the Lewinsky scandal ("the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience of my life"), to the humorous, like the time a mischievous Boris Yeltsin tried to coax her into sampling moose-lip soup. Her devotion to Chelsea, Bill and to her country feels genuine, as do her hopes for future. All in all, her infectious sense of optimism and unwavering energy shine through in her delivery and will leave listeners with a new respect for the former First Lady.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (April 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743222253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743222259
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (852 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By R.J. Corby on July 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One of our most controversial and polarizing first ladies has written a fine book that offers insight into her psyche and political viewpoints. Whether you love her or hate her (put me in the former group), the Clintons always make for good reading.

This was a very good read, even though I feel there were a few sections of self pitying. But, to be honest, I find this perfectly acceptable considering the despicable attacks that the first family had to endure for eight years. She mostly leaves out her feelings about the whole Lewinsky affair, but why should she air those? I happen to feel that it's pretty obvious how she felt about the affair - her husband cheated on her, so why state the obvious? Besides that, if you are looking for some deep feelings about the affair, read "My Life," President Clinton's book, where he writes candidly about his failings and why he had the affair in the first place.

She did leave a few details a bit thin that I would have liked to have - I could have used a couple of hundred more pages. After all, the Clintons did spend eight years in the White House, and she has very strong opinions on important issues, clearly evidenced by her being the only first lady to serve in the Senate. More of her thoughts on policy during the Clintons' tenure in the White House would have been nice. The book's brevity is what prevents this book from getting five stars.
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65 of 85 people found the following review helpful By JK on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I must admit I had more pleasure reading the reviews here than reading the book! I wonder whether the Hillary-haters actually bought the book or simply received their opinions from the vituperative conserative media hosts.
It is nearly impossible for Americans to remain neutral in their assessment of Mrs. Clinton. Consequently, when any of us approach writing either by her or about her, we tend to bring our own preconceptions with us. Of course, this is nothing new. Conservatives railed about Mrs. Roosevelt to a degree that has still not been matched in more modern times. The accusations that she and her husband were driving us into world socialism are well documented.
I found this book rather a boring read. Mrs. Clinton is a very intelligent woman, but that doesn't make a book worth reading. Yes, I consider it somewhat self-serving. Why would anyone write a memoir that wasn't? Mrs. Clinton delves somewhat into the whole sordid Lewinsky affair, but almost as if she were a member of the press corps, not the President's wife. For this reader the account only reinforces that this was a rather distant marriage to begin with. The political twist is nothing more than I would expect from any political partisan on either side of the aisle.
I still consider the gold standard in recollections of First Ladies to be Mrs. Johnson's "White House Diaries". No other First Lady has accomplished this, and Mrs. Clinton hasn't either. This book will probably only reinforce whatever political baggage each reader brings along. As an entertaining read I have seen many better.
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266 of 355 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was up all night with this book. Here's what I learned: nothing. What I knew, I know some more. What I didn't know, I found hard to believe. Everything comes across as calculated, one eye on the polls. Even the fictitious account of Bill breaking the news to her about Monica is an obvious ploy to capture the hearts of both women and men who she'd like to see her as more sympathetic. (If she really didn't know, she was the only person in America who didn't, which makes her a lousy candidate for leader of the free world, and if she did know, that makes her a liar. But hey, Bill's defenders always said, "Hey, everybody lies," so I guess it's no slur.)
I bought it as a gift for a friend. I hope he'll still be speaking to me a week from now when he's done.
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128 of 170 people found the following review helpful By David Danzig on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've got nothing against Hillary Clinton. I voted for her for Senate, and I'd certainly vote for her if she were to become the Democratic candidate for President against George W. Bush. But this is just not a good book. It reads like a children's book, except with the word "Republicans" substituted for "scary monsters." She makes everything sound so simple and one-sided, with the Democrats always on the side of right, and the Republicans always on the side of greed or pettiness or evil. But I certainly remember that at the time a real debate was happening, even if the Democrats might have had the better of the argument. The book is boring, uninsightful, unrevealing, and totally self-serving. Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, this is just not a good book to read.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on July 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must admit that this is the first memoir I have ever read that was by the First Lady and given this one is graded as one of the better ones, I think it may be my last. It was not that the book was badly written, it was just that the majority of what the First Lady does is not all that interesting to me. Reading about this fund raisers, good will trips or party planning are not my idea of thrilling political insider info. I am more interested in the hard fought, inside the beltway battles that make major decisions. I obviously new this book was about the First Lady, but given the Clinton Presidency, I assumed that it would cover more in depth the political battles the administration faced. Then again the book was about her.
The next compliant I would have about the book is that the author seamed to take the high road on all the areas you thought she would come out with both guns blazing on. Her comments were so bland that they almost acted to diminish or completely disregarded the very negative attacks the Clinton's faced during their terms. Sure she touched on the items of major interest, heath care reform, the full independent counsel investigation, Monica and the Senate race, but it seamed to be at such a high level that all the real nasty, dirty inside details were left out of the book. Ok I know that she has a new job now so that she did not what to lay waste the political landscape that she will be working in and one could make the argument that the First Lady needs to stay above the partisan attacks, but hey this is the edge of the seat reading I wanted.
Lastly I wanted more detail.
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