18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2004
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.
65 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2003
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.
262 of 348 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2003
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.
40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
First, this review is actually based on reading the book.
It is clear that many of the reviewers here have not actually read the book, but just used this forum to express their dislike against our former First Lady. While it's certainly up to each person to form and express their own opinions about Clinton, I seriously doubt that typing a few lines of malicious words in an Amazon book review is an effective use of anyone's time.
Hillary Clinton, oft demonized and misunderstood First Lady, has finally added her voice to the cacophony in her new book, "Living History". After reading the book, it is amazing to see how much "living in history" this woman and her much addled husband have endured over the course of their political lives.
The book starts with a recounting of her early years, and ends with her dramatic U. S. Senate victory in New York. Between those two events, this books serves as a partial memoir, partial explanation of events, and partial lambasting of the biased forces so intent to remove the Clintons from Washington DC.
These are the two parts of the book that I enjoyed the most, the beginning and the endings, possibly because I had a sense Hillary was really speaking to me in these sections. She comes across as warm, supported, and encouraged as she retells her childhood and her families stories. As she deals with the Lewinsky scandal towards the ending, she also seems to drop her defenses and explains her anger.
The parts in the middle seem the most distant to me, though. As she recounts the entire Whitewater disaster (a scandal that admittedly I'm still confused about), and the early years of Bill Clinton's presidency, there is a distance. She lists the facts and her viewpoints succinctly, but the passion of the early and later chapters is simply not there. That is one reason I took off a couple stars.
What impressed me most about her book is the wealth of incredible experiences she's had, and her utmost devotion to being Chelsea's mother. Also, her drive to improve the rights and options for women worldwide should be applauded warmly. I also appreciated how she shared her struggles about whether or not she should stay married, and how she reconciled that within herself. Frankly, she didn't need to write that; it's her own business.
Speaking of which, for those who claim this book is nothing but lies, I'd like more specific clarification what are the lies: that women worldwide are still constantly suffering rights abuses? That Hillary doesn't love her own child? That she was very upset when her husband confessed the truth about Monica? That she won the New York U.S. Senate campaign? The book is full of truths, her truths, and I suggest we allow her the opportunity to share them.
Disagree with Hillary as much as you want, but give her the right to explain and express her thoughts as she sees them. As it is with all of the critics who denounce her, Hillary should not be silenced.
126 of 168 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2003
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.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2004
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. Now given that she had lead a rather full life, Governors wife, working on the Nixon impeachment, First Lady and now Senator, to get a real detailed account of all of these areas she would have needed a much larger if not multiple volume book. I guess I would have just liked her to focus on the First Lady section of her life and have gone into more detail. Just as the book seamed to be getting into a topic, the chapter was over and on to the next installment of Hilary on the move.
Even though I have focused on the areas I disliked with the book, overall I thought it was probably better then most books dealing with the Clinton years. I did think the writing was better then average and she did have an interesting story to tell. The details she did given about the life of the First Lady and some of the inside information about the Clinton Presidency were worth the purchase price, throw in some of the personal bit and the book was not bad at all. I also have a sympathetic spot for her, so the increased my enjoyment of the book. I guess I am just a bit disappointed that the book could have been so much better. It could have been a stinging and focused rebuttal of all the overly negative and harmful to the country attacks. Then again how could one book fight back the 8 year, over the top negative campaign focused against the Clinton's. I felt the book was interesting and enjoyable.
106 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2003
thank heavens I read a friend's copy. Pure spin, few real insights into the author's mind or heart, from the woman who hopes to be the first female President. Save your money.
54 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2006
Like many Americans, I had a strong, pre-conceived idea of Hillary Clinton before I picked up this book. To my surprise, I found myself wrong on many, many counts--and right on others.
I think that Clinton is correct when she says that her public persona was mostly created for her, from public gaffes she made in the beginning (and admits), and from everything from her clothes to her hair (about which she is very funny) to her very strong and unyielding views to her constant championing of causes that are not popular in the Bible Belt.
"Living History" shows us the more private side, and allows us entree into the personal Hillary--at least as much as she wants to show us. She is very honest about her reaction to her husband's scandals, and about why she took him back. I did not think she owed me or any reader such a painful admission, so I admired that very much. I also admire, deeply, all this woman, who is my age, has accomplished in her life. It is truly amazing. And I admire that she steadfastly sticks to her convictions no matter what.
That having been said, I found the last third of the book self-serving and increasingly annoying, and I really do not know why. I think part of it is that every single world leader she and Bill met became "close personal friends," or that her rigid views (many of which I share) never waiver for an instant, or what--I just don't know. My favorite part of the entire book is her poignant recollection of "losing" her daughter to a college 3000 miles away. Any parent could relate. Does that make me shallow, that I found more "real" in her personal feelings than in her strong political views pounded home in paragraph after paragraph? So be it...
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the politics and travails of the Clinton Administration. There are many insights into life "behind the scenes," and all in all, I found this book immensely interesting.
40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2004
I just love Hillary Clinton, but this is only after I read this book. I never really cared for her, but I decided to give this book a shot. Now that I've read it, I can see what an incredible woman she really is. I admire her greatly.
As for the book itself, it wasn't the best thing I had ever read. Some of it was a little boring, but overall I thought it was worth reading. I enjoyed reading about her childhood and I loved hearing about her getting involved in politics. I now see her relationship with Bill in a new light, and I am glad she didn't dwell on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She had a much bigger story to tell, and I am glad she did it.
The reason some people may not like this book is because it reads more like a political manifesto rather than an out-and-out memoir. The times when she went into too much detail on foreign policies were things I could have done without. Still, I am glad I gave this book a shot because it really does make you see her in a new light. She is no longer the ice woman I once thought she was. Then again my family is predominantly Republican, so it's no wonder I thought that. It's hard for me to think I once thought so little of this incredible woman.
Another reason people may not like this is because they were expecting a juicy gossip rag about the Lewinsky scandal. Like I said earlier, Ms. Clinton does not dwell on this and I love her for that. That is a time in her life she has moved on from and we should all take a page from her book.
I have a newfound respect for Hillary Clinton. She has inspired me to become more involved in politics and I think she is just an amazing woman. Thanks to her, I have come to embrace my liberal views and am not afraid to be the only Democrat in a family full of Republicans. Go out and buy this book to get a glimpse into who this woman really is. She will get my vote if she ever decides to run for the presidency of the United States.
76 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2003
I expected a true and honest accounting of Bill and her rise to power - an accounting of the scandels as well as the accomplishments. Never got a sense of what kind of a person she really is. Or maybe I did. She came across as cold and uncaring. It's unbelievable how little she says.