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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 11, 2014
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"Books on contemporary political figures rarely have pinpoint timing, but this one does... [Allen and Parnes's] most persuasive accomplishment is to show, backed by impressive detail, the ways in which Clinton never really abandoned domestic politics." –Jodi Kantor, New York Times Book Review
"[HRC] provides useful context and intelligent analysis, and a highly readable account of her tenure at Foggy Bottom... pumped full of colorful you-are-there details." –Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Deeply reported... a revealing window into the le Carré-like layers of intrigue that develop when a celebrity politician who is married to another celebrity politician loses to yet another celebrity politician, and goes on to serve the politician who defeated her." –Washington Post
"HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton manages the rare feat of being both important and entertaining. It opens with a juicy chapter detailing the punishment and reward of Bill and Hillary’s political enemies and friends. But the meat of HRC is its narration of her role in tackling crises in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Libya — an amazingly tumultuous period that provides the best preview of what a Hillary Clinton presidency might look like, at least for foreign policy." –New York magazine
"A character-driven psychodrama, chockablock with sweaty descriptions of its players… It's no easy feat to wring page-turning narrative juice from four years of state craft, but Allen and Parnes have relied on 200 sources…to get them the gossipy goods."—Los Angeles Times
"A thoroughly reported and well-written chronicle of Clinton’s comeback and her tenure at the State Department." –Christian Science Monitor
"Full of the inside baseball that political junkies love and on which opposition researchers thrive. Great stuff to light the hot stove of the off-season." –Hugh Hewitt, The Washington Examiner
About the Author
JONATHAN ALLEN covers the White House and the 2016 presidential campaign for Bloomberg News. An award-winning reporter, he has also written extensively about Congress and national politics, and he appears frequently as a political analyst on national television news programs. He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Stephanie, and their children, Asher and Emma.
AMIE PARNES is the White House correspondent for The Hill newspaper in Washington, where she covers the Obama Administration. A ten-year veteran of political journalism, she traveled with the Clinton, Obama and McCain campaigns while covering the 2008 presidential race for POLITICO. She appears frequently on MSNBC and has also been featured on CNN, Fox News and other networks.
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But after that, the novel becomes ponderous and lacks objectivity in their continual glowing praise --both implied and inferred--of Hillary.
What is useful is the book reinforces the long known "criticisms" about the Clintons--that they are a political machine; that they reward loyalty; that while they believe in public service, it is generally to their own self-aggrandizement. I walked away with a distaste for the lack of separation between the Clinton Global Initiative and the State Department. I walked away with a distaste of Huma Abeden --in fact, everyone around Hillary seems to have a ulterior motive --that by staying close to Hillary, some of the glow and gold will rub off on them, if not now, in their post-political careers, if there is such a thing.
All around, the book left a distaste in my mouth for the lack of objective reporting or writing, and the circle around Hillary.
Read if you're pro-Hillary and are interested in her MO, if you like political play-by-play, if you feel guilty that you don't keep up with current events as much as you should but don't have a ton of time to invest. Read fast, or you might lose momentum and give up.
Don't read if you're anti-Hillary (the author is a fan), don't read if you like Hillary but were looking for a biography, or if political gossip bores you.
-A thorough compendium of every decision Hillary made during the time period and the strategy behind it. Though you won't gain a deep understanding of Hillary the person, you will come away with a very deep understanding of Hillary the politician
-A good contrast between old guard Hillary and upstart Obama, and by extension the generational gap in politics: hand-shakes vs. metrics
-Brings the lay person up to speed on recent foreign policy
-For the same lay person, introduces every character in the vast kingdom of Hillaryland, which is to say, Democratic politics. Allen could have gone the extra mile by inserting a little head shot next to each name to help us keep them all straight, but there are so many players it would have doubled print costs.
-Little credible or substantive criticism of Hillary.
-At times too chocked full of names and details. You have to read the same way you learn to ride a bike: go fast, or you'll fall off, get scraped, and be too freaked out to start again.
-Even a tiny bit more of Hillary's background, i.e., what her personal values are and where they stem from, would have gone a long way.
-An overwrought dissection of the way that loyalty figures in the Clintons' politics. A third of the anecdotes about Bill's revenge on Obama supporters via endorsements in later campaigns would have sufficed.
On her 2016 prospects:
"The problem, the aide said, was that she was operating with a B team of aides unwilling to challenge her and call her out on her mistakes--a specter of her personnel woes in 2008 that indicated that quality staffing is still her Achilles' heel...but Hillary was still heading into a presidential race in as strong a position to win as any open-seat candidate since Dwight Eisenhower. If she lost-or didn't run-her failure would rank among the biggest political falls in American history, even greater than her 2008 loss to Obama. After four years at the State Department and two years of shadow campaigning across the country under the cover of working as a lecturer, philanthropist, and author, Hillary had transformed her public image. Her allies said she had finally found herself. At the very least, she had found a better strategy."