- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (February 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684873028
- ISBN-13: 978-0684873022
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,673,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hillary's Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign Hardcover – February 15, 2001
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There is no shortage of anti-Hillary Clinton books on the shelf--authors ranging from conservative critic Peggy Noonan to pop psychologist Gail Sheehy have offered volumes that must make fans of the former first lady gnash their teeth. New York magazine columnist Michael Tomasky provides something of an antidote with Hillary's Turn, his sympathetic chronicle of Hillary Clinton's successful election to the Senate in 2000. This is not a biography, but the story of a candidacy. Readers interested in the nitty-gritty of New York State politics will enjoy learning how Mrs. Clinton "cobbled together a coalition of urban minorities, Giuliani Democrats ... and white upstaters that, in the post-Reagan age, we've been told it was impossible for a Democrat to achieve." Much of Hillary's Turn is given over to an almost day-by-day treatment of the campaign, from its shaky beginnings to its surprising margin of victory on Election Day. And all the controversies surrounding Mrs. Clinton receive full attention: running for office in a state where she had no roots, insisting that she really was a Yankees fan, kissing Yasir Arafat's wife on both cheeks right after she gave a speech that dubiously blamed Israelis for using "poison gas" against Palestinians, and so on.
Tomasky is clearly taken by his subject: "I was fascinated by the very fact of her normalness," he confesses, following an interview with Mrs. Clinton. "Here before me was the most polarizing woman in America.... She wasn't enigmatic or brittle; she had enthusiasms and a playful side." She likes archaeology! And The Flintstones! Tomasky goes on to insist that "she has been misinterpreted ideologically [and] that she has been mischaracterized personally." Conservatives may guffaw when he writes that her "liberalism ... is far more oriented toward fixing a problem than changing the world"--but only if they haven't read the preceding pages, in which Tomasky shows Mrs. Clinton to be a fearsomely disciplined campaigner who really did seem to care about issues that concern New York voters, such as dairy compacts and utility regulations. After reading Hillary's Choice, admirers of Mrs. Clinton will find themselves admiring her even more, while detractors will appreciate anew what a formidable opponent they have. In short, this is an excellent book about an important campaign, and an even more important politician. --John J. Miller
E. J. Dionne, Jr. author of Why Americans Hate Politics and They Only Look Dead Michael Tomasky is not only one of the very best political reporters in the country, but also one of the most thoughtful and fair-minded interpreters of what political events really mean. That shows in every chapter of Hillary's Turn. It's a brilliant page-turner that takes us not only behind the scenes, but also to New York City's streets, suburban cul-de-sacs, and the upstate countryside to tell the story of an amazing and surprising campaign. It's insightful, it's entertaining, and it's very smart. -- Review
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As for Hillary herself, Tomasky makes it seem clear that just about everything you read about her in regular media is wrong. That's not to say that you will like her from reading this, but you will most likely begin to understand (and understand why) your opinion has been built at least partially out of distorted information.
My favorite line comes in the prologue: "Hillary has been so reluctant to fill in the blank spaces of her life that people filled them in for her, according to the few clues she dropped along the path, and according to their own ideals and neuroses." I can't see how you can hit the nail on the head more squarely.
How else do you explain the reports of more than a few white, professional women (a demographic that was unexpectedly against Hillary) began spending their $185/hour therapy sessions talking not about themselves, but about Hillary?
More questions: Why did she do so well upstate, where she was not expected to? Why did she finally get the jewish vote? Why did she run in the first place? What happened to change her from such a lousy candidate at the beginning to a winner? Tomasky provides most of the answers, and they probably aren't what you are expecting them to be.
Tomasky's three major characters are Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giulliani and Rick Lazio. He somehow manages to paint them all in a fairly good light, while dramatizing their oddest characteristics. He seems particularly fascinated by Giulliani, who he claims did the "most bizarre thing a politician has ever done, ever." Tomasky seems to believe that Hillary herself is sort of boring, but the events that were happening around her were anything but.
For all the fun of this book, it has a few flaws. Most outstanding of these is the great disparity in Tomasky's reporting when it comes to upstate rather than New York City politics. Tomasky's sources and knowledge of NYC politics are first rate, but his knowledge of upstate seems to be limited to what he saw on the bus. Much is left out, not the least of which is a full appreciation for Hillary's use of the upstate economy as an issue, and Lazio's perplexing refusal to do the same.
But that's a subject for someone else and not reason enough to skip this book. HILLARY'S TURN is a real page-turner!
In this book, Michael Tomasky has offered a valuable document to people like me. This is a window through which I was able to finally, at least to my best guess, see the person behind the face and the name some of us have come to meet with churning stomach.
I expected more of a biography, but was met instead with the story of the candidacy for the Senate. We're presented with the ins and outs of the campaign trail, one that would seemingly be somewhat low-key considering it was, after all, for one state and not for all fifty (in a shallow comparison to the Presidential campaign). We're given a look into the turmoils that surrounded Mrs. Clinton, from Rudolph Giuliani's attacks to "that speech, that kiss" from Mrs. Clinton to Arafat's wife. Through it all, we are credibly told and shown, Mrs. Clinton took the high road.
If nothing else, this book has greatly increased my respect for Mrs. Clinton. She's been shown as a human being, one who has the same emotions as you and me, and one who has the character and strength to face a hell of a lot more tribulations in one year than I would ever hope to see in a lifetime. Hats off to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Tomasky for a well-crafted, perfectly outlined book.
I'm sure everyone else is commenting about the politics, so I'll leave that alone. Let's just say that I'm one of those who felt that Hillary was TOO CONSERVATIVE -- the death penalty, the drug war, the HMO/INSURANCE CO/AMA health gin-up, advocating abstinence, all the DLC bs, etc. -- and this is the first book that takes the opinions of our small cohort seriously. Tomasky also makes very clear how and why people of different ideological stripes loved her or hated her.
Most of all, we get a great insight into what's important in NYC and New York State politics today. We see the "gears grind" as Tomasky might have said.