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My Life Paperback – May 31, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140003003X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030033
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (783 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's My Life is a refreshingly candid look at the former president as a son, brother, teacher, father, husband, and public figure. Clinton painstakingly outlines the history behind his greatest successes and failures, including his dedication to educational and economic reform, his war against a "vast right-wing operation" determined to destroy him, and the "morally indefensible" acts for which he was nearly impeached. My Life is autobiography as therapy--a personal history written by a man trying to face and banish his private demons.

Clinton approaches the story of his youth with gusto, sharing tales of giant watermelons, nine-pound tumors, a charging ram, famous mobsters and jazz musicians, and a BB gun standoff. He offers an equally energetic portrait of American history, pop culture, and the evolving political landscape, covering the historical events that shaped his early years (namely the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK) and the events that shaped his presidency (Waco, Bosnia, Somalia). What makes My Life remarkable as a political memoir is how thoroughly it is infused with Clinton's unassuming, charmingly pithy voice:

I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgments can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain.

However, that same voice might tire readers as Clinton applies his penchant for minute details to a distractible laundry list of events, from his youth through the years of his presidency. Not wanting to forget a single detail that might help account for his actions, Clinton overdoes it--do we really need to know the name of his childhood barber? But when Clinton sticks to the meat of his story--recollections about Mother, his abusive stepfather, Hillary, the campaign trail, and Kenneth Starr--the veracity of emotion and Kitchen Confidential-type revelations about "what it is like to be President" make My Life impossible to put down.

To Clinton, "politics is a contact sport," and while he claims that My Life is not intended to make excuses or assign blame, it does portray him as a fighter whose strategy is to "take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could." While My Life is primarily a stroll through Clinton's memories, it is also a scathing rebuke--a retaliation against his detractors, including Kenneth Starr, whose "mindless search for scandal" protected the guilty while "persecuting the innocent" and distracted his Administration from pressing international matters (including strikes on al Qaeda). Counterpunch indeed.

At its core, My Life is a charming and intriguing if flawed book by an equally intriguing and flawed man who had his worst failures and humiliations made public. Ultimately, the man who left office in the shadow of scandal offers an honest and open account of his life, allowing readers to witness his struggle to "drain the most out of every moment" while maintaining the character with which he was raised. It is a remarkably intimate, persuasive look at the boy he was, the President he became, and man he is today. --Daphne Durham --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Condensing a 900-page text into a six-and-a-half–hour audiobook is no small challenge, but this production proves that it can be done—and done well. Inevitably, people will wonder what has been left out. The answer: anecdotes from Clinton's childhood; blow-by-blow accounts of his gubernatorial and presidential races; a plethora of details regarding his smaller accomplishments as president; and some blistering indictments of Kenneth Starr and other conservatives. What's left is a moving but all-too-brief portrait of Clinton's troubled childhood and an in-depth look at the battles he fought before and after being elected. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has heard Clinton speak that the former president narrates his autobiography with aplomb. His voice rings with mirth when he relates an amusing anecdote and expresses sadness when he describes how his abusive, alcoholic father faced death with more courage than he did life. Clinton covers the expected topics—Whitewater (a "bogus scandal"); his "immoral and foolish" dalliance with Monica Lewinsky; his attempts to balance the budget and bring peace to the Middle East—but the most illuminating details are the small ones (such as when he recalls, with a smile in his voice, impulsively buying a house and telling Hillary: "Remember that little house you liked so much? I bought it. You have to marry me now, because I can't live there alone"). Although not all of the transitions between topics are seamless and listeners may wish John McElroy, who created this abridgment, had included more details from Clinton's younger years, Clinton's legendary charisma shines through in his reading, making this audiobook a rare treat. B&w photos on packaging.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I read this book 5 years ago, in 2004 when it was first released.
Mr. Roopesh Joshi
People like Bill Clinton just don't get it because thier friends and associates are all "Yes" people.
Jack Vink
Clinton wrote an interesting book about an interesting presidency.
D. Bourque

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

170 of 202 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a conservative economist who, like many of the reviewers here, never voted for Bill Clinton. However, unlike those same reviewers, I read this entire book. I must say that it is somewhat satisfying to understand the thought processes behind this president. He is a remarkably bright individual who overcame a somewhat deprived childhood to excel at some of the world's finest educational institutions. Given the ineptitude of the current administration which won on pedigree, it is refreshing to know that hard work, intellect, and perseverance can also lead to the White House.
The book has a few tedious moments. The Arkansas campaigns are littered with the names of individuals no one outside of the Ozarks will recognize. On the whole though, this book delivers for the aficionado of American politics. You will see the deep thought and debate surrounding policy decisions. You will appreciate the fact that this president actually led his administration with his own ideas and strategies for implementing them. Likewise, he wrote many of his own speeches and routinely held press conferences without knowing the questions in advance. I would have liked even more from these areas, but the book does provide as much depth as most political memoirs.
What I would like from Clinton's second book would be a discussion of the perception and reality of American politics. For example, the Bush administration, with annual budget and trade deficits of over $1 trillion, has the most liberal fiscal policy since the Johnson administration. At the same time, they have increased the size of the government more than any other administration in history, with the effects of the war and 9/11 accounting for only 45% of this enormous growth.
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498 of 616 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must confess I am a fan of political autobiographies. The first one I ever read was the Nixon autobiography; I've since read the various presidential and prime ministerial works past and present. Against these various tomes, Bill Clinton's memoirs, 'My Life', stacks up well. There is nothing earth-shattering and revealing here; there are some different nuances and a little more candour involved, but not a lot. After all, Clinton is still a relatively young man, and could have other political aspirations (he wouldn't be the first president to also serve in the Congress after the presidency), and of course, his wife has an active political life of her own, which I am certain was a major consideration in the tone and content of this volume.
I was fortunate to get advance reading material of this before the day of release, and got the local bookseller to permit me a purchase after midnight last night. Of course, like many people, I turned first to the part about Monica Lewinsky, who, for better or worse, will be a defining image of Clinton's presidency for the foreseeable future - history will likely be kinder to Clinton (as it ended up being for Nixon, and others who have stumbled in office), but for the present, this image holds true. There is a typical Clinton-esque mixture of self-reproach and blaming of others. Clinton's greatest ire is saved for Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor, who Clinton characterises as being the tip of the spear of a vast right-wing conspiracy including conservative white southerners who never worked for civil rights.
He discusses the icy situation with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea after the revelations, and how he slept on the sofa in different rooms for a significant period after the revelations.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Mohamed F. El-Hewie on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The intelligence, eloquence, charm, and generosity of Bill Clinton all come alive in a 957-page documentary of an intriguing and rich life. The adoption of the "Clinton" name after his abusive and alcoholic first stepfather and his acceptance and forgiveness of his second stepfather, despite his bad reputation, signal the magnanimity of the young Bill. His mother's life-long struggle to provide him stable family environment, education, and love all made him a special person who understood the suffering of the poor, the black, the sick, and the old. His rural Arkansas upbringing fostered his curiosity in early life to explore the greater world of politics that took him to Washington, New York, Oxford, and Moscow, in only two decades of his early life. Clinton reveals the crucial role of school in training and preparing young people for future participation in democratic governments.

No wonder why the rich, white, and religious hated his guts since he embodied the struggle and charisma of the poor and well-educated class that would shake the foundation of the old tradition of politics that only serves the rich and powerful minority. He won all wars waged against him solely by the way of reasoning he had inherited from his poor yet closely attached family members, in addition to his extensive reading of books that made his mind deals with complex conflicts without losing focus of the fundamental issues. His encyclopedic mind was also his drive for adoring sex and appreciating its great pleasure in soothing life, which also infuriated his haters. That also made him the most peaceful and economically successful president that loved sex and hated violence.
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More About the Author

William Jefferson Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. Under his leadership, the country enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in United States history. President Clinton's core values of building community, creating opportunity, and demanding responsibility resulted in unprecedented progress for America, including moving the nation from record deficits to record surpluses; the creation of over 22 million jobs--more than any other administration; low levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime; and the highest home ownership and college enrollment rates in history. After leaving the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. His Clinton Global Initiative brings together global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues. He served as the UN Envoy for Tsunami Recovery and is now the UN Special Envoy to Haiti.

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