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Hard Choices: A Memoir Hardcover – June 10, 2014

2.8 out of 5 stars 2,404 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A subtle, finely calibrated work….Hard Choices is a statesmanlike document…with succinct and often shrewd appraisals of the complex web of political, economic and historical forces in play around the world, and the difficulties American leaders face in balancing strategic concerns with ‘core values.’ The tone is calm and measured, with occasional humorous asides, like describing an offer by Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader, to take Bill Clinton along on a polar-bear tagging expedition. (Michiko Kakutani The New York Times)

[A] clear and at times riveting account of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s four years as secretary of state….The book bolsters her reputation as a strong “representational” diplomat who carried the flag to 112 countries. But the meaty middle of Hard Choices does something more than chronicle the frequent-flier miles: It provides evidence that Clinton displayed good judgment as secretary of state and understood some important issues earlier than her boss, President Obama…..[O]nce Clinton gets rolling, she does what’s most valuable in this kind of memoir, which is to take readers inside her meetings — sketching portraits of the world leaders with whom she did business…..Perhaps the most revelatory passages in the book involve the secret diplomacy that led to the November 2013 interim nuclear agreement with Iran. (David Ignatius The Washington Post)

Hard Choices is a richly detailed and compelling chronicle of Clinton's role in the foreign initiatives and crises that defined the first term of the Obama administration — the pivot to Asia, the Afghanistan surge of 2009, the ‘reset’ with Russia, the Arab Spring, the ‘wicked problem’ of Syria — told from the point of view of a policy wonk… it's also mercifully free of the bromides that mar most campaign biographies. The book teems with small, entertaining details about her interactions with foreign leaders. (Los Angeles Times)

“To its credit, Clinton’s memoir is serious, sober and substantive….No fair-minded reader could finish this book and doubt Clinton’s essential command of the issues, whatever one might think of her solutions for them. She roams widely and delves into war and peace, terrorism and Russia, economic development and women’s rights. She knows the players and the history.” (Peter Baker New York Times Book Review)

“An amazing story….Above all, what comes through is Clinton's sheer persistence. This is how she does politics, by keeping going and totting up the small victories so that they outweigh the defeats.” (The Guardian)

“Enjoy Hard Choices for what it is at its best — a rich and lively narrative of Clinton's foreign policy successes, and failures.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Undeniable depth.” (Financial Times)

“Blessed with an instant familiarity.” (The Independent)

“Clinton’s voice and world view is authentic…and this is gripping.” (Evening Standard)

“Clinton goes into deep detail about her work in Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan, Latin America, and other hot spots around the globe. She details her vision for U.S. foreign policy and the role of diplomacy. Along the way, she introduces readers to a who’s who of world leaders and gives insight into the way they think and do business.” (Booklist)

About the Author

Hillary Rodham Clinton served as the US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 after nearly four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and Senator. She is the author of several bestselling books, including her memoirs, Hard Choices and Living History, and her groundbreaking work on children, It Takes a Village.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 635 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (June 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476751447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476751443
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert B. Lamm on July 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Some disclosures up front:

--Unlike some of the people who didn't like this book, I am a long-standing liberal Democrat. Among other things, this means that I'm not at all bothered by her constant digs at W's foreign policy (such as it was).
--While I'm not one of those people who worships the ground Hillary Clinton even thinks about walking on, I greatly respect and even admire her. In retrospect, I think she'd have made a better President than Mr. Obama, and I'll likely vote for her in 2016 (and I have got to believe she's running).
--I usually like or love books that combine politics with history.

For all these reasons and more, it's totally disappointing that this book was so bad. Another reviewer called it "pabulum," and while I disagree with other comments he made, that one is spot on. The only thing good about the book is that it was organized by global region. Other than that, it's dull, pre-digested and formulaic. She manages to take matters that are fascinating, terrifying, dramatic or even "just" historically significant and turn them into pedantic pabulum (there it is again). As if that weren't bad enough, she feels compelled to give us at least one moral for every story, but in every case I can recall the moral was something like "I believe that it's important to reach out to people who disagree with you." That kind of thing is really insipid and, frankly, condescending to anyone who shells out big bucks to buy a book like that.
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Format: Hardcover
I so badly wanted to like this book. Full disclosure, I am a strong liberal and I am very well-read on foreign policy and have read a large number of U.S. policy-maker memoirs. I respect Hillary a great deal and think she has had unparalleled experience, particularly in foreign policy, and was excited to see what she had to say. Unfortunately, I struggled through this. I read the first 300 pages very closely and then skimmed the last half. The whole book was written as if it was purely political rhetoric--unsurprising, I suppose, from someone who expected this book to be dissected on every page if she ran for President... but I can't help but think back to Obama's book shortly before he ran, and I did not feel this same way. The book is purely devoid of emotion; the closest it got to heartfelt genuine feeling was in discussing Richard Holbrooke's death, but even that felt guarded. It is full of cliches, fact-of statements, and few insights into decision-making, at least very very few that sound genuine at all.

Example: "It won't be easy to do that [make tough changes at home] in our current political atmosphere. But to quote from one of my favorite moves, A League of Their Own: 'It's supposed to be hard... The hard is what makes it great." Doing what's hard will continue to make our country great."

Cheesy, trite, and meaningless. This was an immense disappointment and I expected much more. I also did not think it was particularly well-written. Hillary exemplifies her diplomatic prowess, I suppose, but, as I read in another review online, proved that she has not mastered how to write a memoir. She somehow managed to take the topic I find most interesting and make it pedantic and dull.
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Format: Paperback
Paperback is a rewrite:

The paperback version of Hillary Clinton’s memoir “Hard Choices” fails to include her support of the international trade pact TPP that rivals Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have opposed, raising criticism about Clinton “reinventing herself” for the general election race.

The paperback version of Clinton’s 2014 book, which details her work as secretary of state for President Obama, omits the passage in which she touts her efforts to get the country to support the 12-nation trade deal, which she once referred to as the “gold standard” for such agreements.

“We worked hard to improve and ratify trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and encouraged Canada and the group of countries that became known as the Pacific Alliance -- Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile -- all open-market democracies driving toward a more prosperous future to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement,” Clinton says in the hardback version about a 2009 effort.

However, Clinton changed her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in October 2015, about a month after the deal was signed and after weeks of being pressed by the news media for an answer.

A total 96 pages were trimmed from the hardback version. Publisher Simon & Schuster said a “limited number of sections” were cut to “accommodate a shorter length for this edition," according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which reported on the changes shortly after the paperback edition was released in April.

“That Clinton's own memoir is reinventing itself for the general election shows the lengths she will go to mislead the American people," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short told DailyMail.com, which along with The International Business Times earlier this week picked up on the changes and reported them.
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