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Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers [Hardcover]

by Susan Morrison
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 22, 2008 0061455938 978-0061455933

No other politician inspires such a wide range of passionate feelings as Hillary Rodham Clinton. As America's first viable female candidate for president, she has become the repository of many women's contradictory hopes and fears. To some she's a sellout who changed her name and her hairstyle when it suited her husband's career; to others she's a hardworking idealist with the political savvy to work effectively within the system. Where one person sees a carpetbagger, another sees a dedicated politician; where one sees a humiliated and long-suffering wife, another sees a dignified First Lady. Is she tainted by the scandals of her husband's presidency, or has she gained experience and authority from weathering his missteps? Cold or competent, overachiever or pioneer, too radical or too moderate, Hillary Clinton continues to overturn the assumptions we make about her.

In Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary, New Yorker editor Susan Morrison has compiled this timely collection of thirty original pieces by America's most notable women writers. This pointillistic portrait paints a composite picture of Hillary Clinton, focusing on details from the personal to the political, from the hard-hitting to the whimsical, to give a well-balanced and unbiased view of the woman who may be our first Madam President. Taken together, these essays—by such renowned writers as Daphne Merkin, Lorrie Moore, Deborah Tannen, Susan Cheever, Lionel Shriver Kathryn Harrison, and Susan Orlean—illuminate the attitudes that women have toward the powerful women around them and constitute a biography that is must reading for anyone interested in understanding this complex and controversial politician.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Whatever your political leanings, you'll be alternately pleased and dismayed by the parade of highly intelligent contributors-including fiction author Lorrie Moore, New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean and Vanity Fair editor Leslie Bennetts-offering their views on presidential candidate and former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Though many issues are covered, the most prevalent is the gender question: "I wish I could vote gender blind," says novelist and essayist Kathryn Harrison, but admits that, "everything else being equal, I will vote for a woman over a man." Rarely, if ever, has cookie-baking (or not baking), hairstyles and spouses been so often brought up in relation to a presidential candidate, but the question of authenticity dogs the every move of both Clinton and her critics; says Laura Kipnis, "the specter of loss looms at the moment, at least for men... So what gets spoken of instead? Well, hair for one thing." Elsewhere, Daphne Merkin looks at Bill and Hillary as a couple; Susan Cheever examines Clinton's list of favorite books; and Deborah Tannen explores the "damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't paradox of women in charge." Readers interested in Hillary, gender politics or the evolution of the presidential campaign should find this book fascinating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Immensely satisfying and very entertaining.” (Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles)

“A cascade of crackling insights about gender, marriage, work, and politics that yields genuine literary pleasure.” (Hendrik Hertzberg, author of Politics: Observations and Arguments)

“Intriguing…. These essays attest to the infinite subjectivity of people’s views, the pure relativism of perception….This volume of reflections corroborates Mrs. Clinton’s own long-ago observation that she is ‘a Rorschach test’ for voters.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

“Pithy, imaginative, and bold essays by exceptionally shrewd women writers....In all, a discerning, engrossing dissection not only of a galvanizing figure but also of our conflicted feelings about women and power.” (Booklist)

“An unusually insightful and particularly well written collection.” (New York Daily News)

“The collection gathers strength as the variety and ferocity of opinions, insights, disappointments, and projections unfolds, often revealing more about the writers than about Hillary, and more about our warring notions of power, politics, and sex roles than it seems possible to hold in any brain at one time.” (Elizabeth Benedict, Huffington Post)

“This original collection features a stellar group of women writers.” (Newsday)

“A timely book of essays (or critiques, it often seems) written by many of today’s prominent women writers....the book is decidedly fluid....the contributors share a certain elegance in tone....the collection is a unique study and more insightful, if critical, than a general biography.” (

“Clever, entertaining, provocative, and elegantly written.” (Newsweek)

“Thirty Ways does provide grist for thought....canny and thoughtful.” (New York Observer)

“An exhilaratingly honest collection of essays by many of the top writes of our time.” (More Magazine)

“Compelling....this book deserves your vote.” (Bust Magazine)

“[A] chewy must-read.” (Rush & Molloy, New York Daily News)

“These essays should be required reading for voters.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Impressive....reflective.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Well-written...thoughtful.” (Miami Herald)

“Everyone has an opinion about Senator Hillary Clinton....In Thirty Ways, notable contributors sound off about her...these witty, insightful voices struggle to get a grasp on this larger-than-life figure.” (Redbook Magazine)

“This timely collection of 30 original pieces by some of America’s most notable writers is a must read for anyone interested in this complex and controversial politician.” (The Standard (Ontario))

“As these witty, insightful voices struggle to get a grasp on this larger-than-life figure, they expose how difficult a task that really is.” (Redbook Magazine)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061455938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061455933
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,730,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leslie Bennetts' essay is worth the price of the book January 22, 2008
This is a fun book, though mixed. (Who cares if you think Hillary is a cat or a dog? or what she eats?) Roz Chast is Hillaryous. Leslie Bennetts' "Beyond Gender" is the longest essay and also the last, so many will never get to it. But it is a scathing, funny, thoughtful review of Hillary's career in the context of feminism's failure, thus far, to change archtypes, stereotypes, and monotypes. She catalogues how the public overlooks or forgives the sins of male politicians while demanding that women politicians conform to society's traditional view of the role of women.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Yellow Pantsuit March 10, 2008
Is there anyone who is neutral about Hillary Clinton? It isn't even as simple as you love her or you hate her, although there are plenty of people who do simply love her or hate her. Many of us want to like her or used to like her or liked her during the brief period between finding out about Bill's Oval Office tryst with an intern and the moment she uttered "vast right-wing conspiracy." Quite a few people would love to see a woman as president but can't bear the thought of that woman being Hillary Clinton. What is it about her? What is it about us?

Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary gathers thirty essays by women who think and write for a living. Most of the pieces here take the subject seriously, notwithstanding a trivial piece by Susan Orlean on whether Clinton is a cat person or a dog person and a mock high school yearbook page by Patricia Marx ("pet peeves: bad punctuation, martial law"). Some essays seem frivolous at first, but turn out to be quite thoughtful, such as Mimi Sheraton's look at Hillary through her taste in food and Lauren Collins on Clinton's apparent lack of hobbies.

Several writers have written about Hillary Clinton before and stand by their controversial opinions such as Robin Givhan on Clinton's cleavage. On the other hand, Judith Warner all but apologizes for her 1992 biography, Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story: Revised and Updated, which at least one reviewer called a hagiography.

There are no right-wing hit jobs in this collection, but Laura Kipnis does a survey of Hillary biographies (many of which fall into the hit job category) and finds they reveal more about the authors than about Clinton.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary Plus One June 18, 2008
I'm betting the editors of the recently released collection of essays called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary were assuming the presidential political landscape would look a bit different today, at least from a marketing point of view.

If the primary race was over and Hillary had become the Democratic nominee after Super Tuesday, as many expected would happen, they probably sensed that this baby would be a best-seller.

There isn't a lot that's particularly revealing about Clinton in Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary. It's more a volume of essays about how the various authors feel about her and view her in ways (usually) not covered by the main stream media.

I was a little surprised at the critical and sometimes flip tone of some of the authors. Some of the essays ponder who is the real HRC? Is she a dog person or a cat person? Is she better or worse than Lady Macbeth? What did she like to snack on in the White House?

(Can you imagine the outcry if someone had written a similar volume about any of the men candidates?)

While entertaining and well-written, I'd like to look at Hillary in a 31st way.

What would her candidacy have looked like if she hadn't married Bill?

What if she had married someone else, kept her name and was still Hillary Rodham? If we take the Bill Clinton lens off the glasses through which we scrutinize Hillary, what would an objective look at her candidacy be? I have a feeling it would be much more charitable in terms of her experience, her personality and her judgment.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not about Hillary April 4, 2014
This book is a series of essays by people removed from the real world of being a woman today. These women are using her to promote their own cleverness. It was so small especially compared to writings by men. Women love Hillary in the real world. These Queen Bees can't even imagine that, it seems.
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