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A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton First Edition Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0375407666
ISBN-10: 0375407669
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Read an excerpt from A Woman in Charge
A Woman in Charge is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein's illuminating account of Hillary Rodham Clinton, revealing the complex of motivations and machinations behind her extraordinary life and career. Drawing on over 200 interviews with Clinton associates (both colleagues and adversaries), as well as major pieces written by and about the former First Lady, Bernstein has constructed an indelible portrait of perhaps the most polarizing figure in American politics, from her midwestern roots to her own presidential ambitions; but don't take our word for it--read an excerpt from the first chapter and decide for yourself.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Chapter One: Formation

I adored [my father] when I was a little girl. I would eagerly watch for him from a window and run down the street to meet him on his way home after work. With his encouragement and coaching, I played baseball, football and basketball. I tried to bring home good grades to win his approval.
–Living History

Hillary Rodham’s childhood was not the suburban idyll suggested by the shaded front porch and gently sloping lawn of what was once the family home at 235 Wisner Street in Park Ridge, Illinois. In this leafy environment of postwar promise and prosperity, the Rodhams were distinctly a family of odd ducks, isolated from their neighbors by the difficult character of her father, Hugh Rodham, a sour, unfulfilled man whose children suffered his relentless, demeaning sarcasm and misanthropic inclination, endured his embarrassing parsimony, and silently accepted his humiliation and verbal abuse of their mother.

Yet as harsh, provocative, and abusive as Rodham was, he and his wife, the former Dorothy Howell, imparted to their children a pervasive sense of family and love for one another that in Hillary’s case is of singular importance. When Bill Clinton and Hillary honeymooned in Acapulco in 1975, her parents and her two brothers, Hughie (Hugh Jr.) and Tony, stayed in the same hotel as the bride and groom.

Dorothy and Hugh Rodham, despite the debilitating pathology and undertow of tension in their marriage (discerned readily by visitors to their home), were assertive parents who, at mid-century, intended to convey to their children an inheritance secured by old-fashioned values and verities. They believed (and preached, in their different traditions) that with discipline, hard work, encouragement (often delivered in an unconventional manner), and enough education at home, school, and church, a child could pursue almost any dream. In the case of their only daughter, Hillary Diane, born October 26, 1947, this would pay enormous dividends, sending her into the world beyond Park Ridge with a steadiness and sense of purpose that eluded her two younger brothers. But it came at a price: Hugh imposed a patriarchal unpleasantness and ritual authoritarianism on his household, mitigated only by the distinctly modern notion that Hillary would not be limited in opportunity or skills by the fact that she was a girl.

Hugh Rodham, the son of Welsh immigrants, was sullen, tight-fisted, contrarian, and given to exaggeration about his own accomplishments. Appearances of a sort were important to him: he always drove a new Lincoln or Cadillac. But he wouldn’t hesitate to spit tobacco juice through an open window. He chewed his cud habitually, voted a straight Republican ticket, and was infuriatingly slow to praise his children. "He was rougher than a corncob and gruff as could be," an acquaintance once said. Nurturance and praise were left largely to his wife, whose intelligence and abilities he mocked and whose gentler nature he often trampled. "Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on your way out," he frequently said at the dinner table when she’d get angry and threaten to leave. She never left, but some friends and relatives were perplexed at Dorothy’s decision to stay married when her husband’s abuse seemed so unbearable.

"She would never say, That’s it. I’ve had it," said Betsy Ebeling,* Hillary’s closest childhood friend, who witnessed many contentious scenes at the Rodham dinner table. Sometimes the doorknob remark would break the tension and everybody would laugh. But not always. By the time Hillary had reached her teens, her father seemed defined by his mean edges–he had almost no recognizable enthusiasms or pretense to lightness as he descended into continuous bullying, ill-humor, complaint, and dejection.

From Publishers Weekly

Which Hillary Clinton will prevail in this sprawling, muddled biography? Is she a "messianic" idealist or a ruthless pragmatist given to negative ad campaigns and vilifying opponents? A liberal feminist firebrand or a closet traditionalist and Washington prayer-group fixture? A Lady Macbeth, a First Soul-mate, or a stand-by-your-man marital martyr? Bernstein (All the President's Men) gives us all these Hillary's, foggily uniting them by reference to her "extraordinary capability for change and evolutionary development." (Then again, the Senate candidate who "told voters largely what they wanted to hear" seems much the same species as the Wellesley student-body president who "was more interested in...achieving victory than in taking a philosophical position.") Bernstein's ill-balanced treatment puts "the Journey"-Hillary's mystic term for her politico-conjugal relationship with Bill Clinton-at the center of the story, particularly her dominant, sometimes disastrous role in Bill's scandal-plagued administration. Ever the investigative reporter, the author serves up chapters of eye-glazing Whitewater arcana and probes Hillary's emotional turmoil as she defends Bill from bimbo eruptions, but flits through her entire post-impeachment career as a high-profile senator and leader of the Democratic party in a scant 19 pages. Bernstein provides a densely detailed road-map of Hillary's life, but we get little sense of where the Journey has taken her. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375407669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375407666
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Comprehensive, detailed and surprisingly easy to read, this biography of Hillary Clinton should be read by anyone who has a vote in any of the upcoming Democratic primaries and, if she wins that party's nomination, anyone planning to vote in 2008. Sure, many people claim to already know all they need to about Mrs. Clinton, but reading this book you really start to understand her. And whether you love her or hate her, your opinion just might be changed.

An amazingly interesting book, "A Woman in Charge" is divided into three sections. The first 70 pages cover Clinton's childhood in Chicago and college years. The next 100 recount her years in Arkansas. The remaining 350 focus on Hillary's experience as First Lady, with just a few devoted to her time as a senator.

From a young child's love of earning Girl Scout merit badges, to a 14-year-old Goldwater Girl's trip to see Martin Luther King, to a modern senator's remarkably unique reason for voting for authorized force against Iraq (she said it would make "war less likely"), there's never a dull moment. And thanks to interviews with more than 200 Clinton associates and more than 500 footnotes, every sentence rings true.

The book doesn't offer any juicy gossip, but does have lots of intimate behind-the-scenes detail. Hillary's first college boyfriend supplies Bernstein with the letters she wrote to him (what a jerk!), in which the 18-year-old freshman describes herself as "a progressive, an ethical Christian and a political activist" who is nevertheless "outrageous... as outrageous as a moral Methodist can get.
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Format: Hardcover
Carl Bernstein, top-notch investigative reporter and prolific writers in our time, has tackled many tough subjects in his time, starting with bringing down an American president. His new subject, Senator Hillary Clinton, is yet another tough subject that he attempts, not to bring down, to bring "to light" in his new biography "A Woman in Charge". The overall result is entertaining and enlightening.

Need I bother to try to introduce one of the most controversial figures in American History, at least in the 20th and 21st centuries? Many people have their well-formed (if not well informed) opinions about Hillary, based on her history, her time in the White House as First Lady, and her life after. Certainly, this book is not going to sway those that support her, and those that hate her, into a new direction. I don't believe that Bernstein's intended audience was either group.

I believe, with this book, he was aiming for those Americans (and there are many) who claim not to know much about the illusive senator from New York. And now that she's put her face out there as a possible candidate for election, I believe this population will benefit the most from reading this book.

Bernstein's coverage of her life is complete, and focuses mainly on the time in the 90's as she became her most controversial. The Hillary that emerges from this book is certianly a complex woman, but one of strong opinion and certain mind. I was intrigued by her internal strength of character, as portrayed by Bernstein, after the entire Monica affair swept the White House. Of course, that may be the part of the book that most interests us, a greedy public hungry for the inside scoop of what really went on.
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Format: Hardcover
A Woman in Charge is a wonderfully written book. As a good journalist Carl Bernstein wrote a story that was absolutely fascinating about the most dynamic and important couple in recent US history. In reading this book I understood the true nature of the partnership between Hillary and Bill. I also understood at least from Bernstein's point of view how the relations in a marriage can shape history. Unfortunately because the book does stops really with the White House years we do not get his assessment of how Hillary has changed. I read this book in the hope it would help me make up my mind on who to vote for and because it did not cover the Senate years it did not help.
There are several fascinating insights in the book. The first for me was how even early on Hillary had the ability to attract people to her. In high school and college and finally law school she clearly stood out as an extraordinary person. People were drawn to her because of her intellect and ability to get things done.

Second as she grew she sincerely felt herself to be a partner in a venture whether in Arkansas or in Washington. Bill was the front man and the dreamer. She was behind the scene with the ability to get things done. She was a person who saw a goal, was convinced she knew how to achieve it and then would stop at nothing to achieve it. In short she was a dangerous person, not unlike our current president.

Third and more hopeful she seems to have the ability to learn from her mistakes and to grow. It is a shame that Bernstein does not spend more time on her Senate career.

The most interesting point was the dynamics between Bill and Hllary. I got the feeling that Bill is a force of nature. Brillant but undisciplined but totally charming.
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