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Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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“Chafe understands, as do too few historians and biographers, that the personal and public lives of political figures cannot be separated . . . [and he] is quite right to insist that the stories of Bill and Hillary Clinton prove the point.” ―Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Riveting . . . Chafe sees clearly what we who were there, chronicling the Clintons in real time, missed.” ―David M. Shribman, The Boston Globe
“The strength of this book lies in Chafe's reconstruction of the Clinton's early lives and the way their connection affected the decisions Bill Clinton made as Governor of Arkansas and as President . . . [Bill and Hillary is] a welcome reminder of the great promise that the Clinton "co-presidency" initially held, and of the attributes, from Clinton's intellect to his willingness to engage on racial issues and his ability to connect with people, that made those of us who saw him sworn in truly believe, for a time, in ‘a place called Hope.'” ―The Toronto Star
“Chafe . . . delivers a superior portrait of how the dynamic between Bill and Hillary Clinton affected their achievements in public life.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An engaging look at the personal relationship behind one of the most powerful political marriages in the nation's history.” ―Booklist
“An illuminating glimpse behind the scenes.” ―Kirkus
“General readers and political junkies will enjoy this reasoned account.” ―Library Journal
“Not since Franklin and Eleanor has a power couple in the White House fascinated the public as much as Bill and Hillary. How did their personal journeys--especially their marriage--shape the Clinton years? For those of us who worked with the Clintons, this book, by one of the nation's best historians, brings a keen eye and fresh insights to the intersection of their personalities and their exercise of power.” ―David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and adviser to four U.S. presidents
“A fascinating analysis of how Bill and Hillary Clinton's different family backgrounds and complicated marital history shaped their political fortunes. William H. Chafe documents how the personal relationship between these two brilliant but flawed individuals created blind spots and self-defeating behaviors that often undermined their ability to further the political and ethical goals they sincerely supported. Beautifully written.” ―Stephanie Coontz, author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s
“In this mesmerizing account, one of the most astute historians of our era pulls back the curtain on the struggles and passions of the world's most powerful couple. William H. Chafe takes readers behind the scenes to reveal Bill and Hillary as they have never been seen before.” ―Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation
“In electrifying fashion, William H. Chafe reveals that the key to understanding the Clinton presidency is the tortuous relationship between Bill and Hillary. He shows that the First Lady's domination of the president because of his sexual misadventures brought about the failures of his first years in office, but also steeled him to survive subsequent disasters, conspicuously the Monica Lewinsky affair. For any reader seeking to unravel the Byzantine politics of the 1990s, Chafe's book is indispensable.” ―William E. Leuchtenburg, author of In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Barack Obama
“Only a writer as gifted as William H. Chafe could have written this splendid book. In luminous and page-turning prose, Bill and Hillary reveals how two strikingly independent individuals, each the product of difficult beginnings, together changed America and symbolized a new world for women. This is a deeply insightful and warmly empathetic portrait of personal ambition, a complicated marriage, and a powerful political partnership.” ―Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman
About the Author
William H. Chafe is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University and the former president of the Organization of American Historians. The author of numerous prizewinning books on civil rights, women's history, and politics, he is best known, most recently, for The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II and Private Lives / Public Consequences: Personality and Politics in Modern America.
Top Customer Reviews
As an Australian, I didn't live the Clinton presidency as closely as US citizens, but like most global citizens, I lived the very visible lows about this presidency and some of the highs. This book beautifully outlines the roles that both the President and the the First Lady played and paints a pretty compelling picture about the nature of the relationship and how it affected the President's actions. It is probably mostly in retrospect that you truly see the full positive impact Clinton's presidency had.
Throughout the book, I vacillated from thinking this pair are the most community-driven, public service oriented people possible, to swinging my thoughts to them both being master manipulators, intent on grabbing then holding onto power for as long as possible. Bill is painted as incredibly intelligent and politically astute, but lacking any self-control over his sexual urges. Hillary comes through as much more in control but totally arrogant.Read more ›
Both came from dysfunctional families and both were brilliant, highly driven overachievers, but he was charming and reckless and she was disciplined and persistent. Chafe makes it clear that Bill's womanizing was a regular part of his life, even after he had proposed to Hillary, and that Hillary tolerated most of Bill's assignations in order to keep the family together and to play an increasing role in policymaking, first in Arkansas and subsequently in Washington, D.C.
Chafe has great empathy as well as criticism for both Clintons. For example, in Bill Clinton's dealing with the draft in the Vietnam War, Chafe, shows how he both manipulated the system and at the same time anguished over whether he was doing the right thing.Read more ›
Most of us who remember the 1990s marveled then, and still do, at the severe peaks and valleys of the Clinton presidency -- the shining intellect and political skills counteracted by an immature and reckless sexual promiscuity. Bill needed Hillary's steel sense of purpose to focus his political skills and she used his emotional need of her support to achieve control and power in their relationship. One of book's best chapters explores the "what ifs" and dramatizes the extent to which it was Hillary's nearly paranoid decisions about staffing, press relationships, and release of documents that led to the most catastrophic failures of the Clinton presidency. Yet her defenses as a wife were essential in rescuing him from sexual misconduct both in the campaign and during his presidency. It was the later defense that actually set her independent course and propelled her to her subsequent career in the Senate and as Secretary of State.
The irony is the success of each in their late life ventures -- Bill with his global foundation and Hillary as a diplomat -- while living mostly separate but parallel lives. Chafe does not cover this period, which is too soon for a historical perspective, but ultimately deserves equally careful anaylsis.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very revealing. It came across as objective and fair. I found it scary, too.Published 8 days ago by Betty C. Farley
William Chafe is a competent historian and a good writer. This is not the kind of book I personally enjoy reading, it is more like narrative than history. Read morePublished 2 months ago by doug korty
I found the book very lively and extraordinarily revealing. If we take the book seriously, then we may project what the level of interaction at the White House might be if HC is... Read morePublished 14 months ago by stanley cohen
Poorly written, all ideas taken from other sources, no new insights, totally slanted to the negative, like a gossip column.Very disappointingPublished 20 months ago by Julie Walls
Excellent disclosure of these two politicians...where is Romney when this country needs him.? Hopefully, he will run for office again..Published on July 15, 2014 by Nancy J. Roehm
This book will tell you just about everything concerning Bill & Hillary, the bad & good. We all know politics to be a less than honest game & there is much in this book to prove... Read morePublished on June 17, 2014 by cgo
This book is much more fascinating than I expected! I learned that Hillary knew about Bill's fondness for simultaneously maintaining multiple relationships with women, before they... Read morePublished on October 7, 2013 by John L. Davis
The stories, assuming they are true, are shocking to me. It makes me wonder about supporting Hillary for President in 2016.Published on October 3, 2013 by Jus' sayin