Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book Review - Living History

 Photograph for the front cover by Michael Thompson.  
Zentangle design by the Storybeader. 

I finished my latest book by Hillary Rodham Clinton, called Living History.  I thought letting Hillary speak for herself in this book review would be an interesting perspective, especially being an autobiography.  And she speaks so well.  Like the way she explained her position on education; what she said here is exactly how I feel... this happened a lot with me and Hillary:
One reason I support improving our public school system through higher standards and greater accountability and oppose weakening it through vouchers is that it brings together children of all races, religions and backgrounds, and has shaped and sustained our pluralistic democracy.  Very few countries in the world benefit from such diversity in education.
I think she has a great relationship with her daughter.  Chelsea, along with her parents, are always on display, wherever they go.  Chelsea attended public school in Arkansas, when Bill was Governor.  But her parents decided to send her to private school in DC because the press wasn’t allowed on the grounds.  Good idea. 

Here's a great photo of Chelsea and Hillary on an elephant.  And Hillary writes about the occasion:
On a stopover in the Royal Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal, Chelsea and I rode an elephant.  To be honest, if I hadn’t known I was going to be  photographed for posterity, I would have just put on a pair of jeans.

It's hard to believe that Hillary’s father was such a conservative, and a Republican.  Hillary was too.  She and her friend Betsy volunteered in high school to check Democratic voter lists against addresses in downtown Chicago.  She changed her political views in college.  Hillary always had nice things to says about her parents.  She wrote about her father:
[he] was hardheaded and often gruff, but when he laughed the sound came from deep inside and seemed to engage every part of his body.  I inherited his laugh, the same big rolling guffaw that can turn heads in a restaurant and send cats running from the room. 
And about her mother:
In the winter, she bundled us up on a sled and pulled us to the store.  Then we held and balanced the groceries for the trip home.  In the middle of hanging the wash on a clothesline in the backyard, she might help me practice my pitching or lie down on the grass with me to describe the cloud shapes overhead.
"Some days were better than others, like the one in Botswana.  Bill and I caught the last rays of sun over the Chobe River, on a day I wanted never to end.  A harsher light would shine on us in Washington." 1998.
The Clintons are so affectionate to each other.  The few exceptions, like when Hillary found out the truth about Bill’s infidelity, are totally understandable.  He told her what really happened the night before he gave his testimony before the Office of Independent Council. 
He just stood there saying over and over again, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.  I was trying to protect you and Chelsea."  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Up until now I only thought that he'd been foolish for paying attention to the young woman and was convinced that he was being railroaded.  I couldn't believe he would do anything to endanger our marriage and our family.  I was     dumbfounded, heartbroken and outrage that I'd believed him at all.  Then I realized that Bill and I had to tell Chelsea.
 One of the things I will never forgive Kenneth Starr and the Independent Council for was the death of Vince Foster.  Hillary talked about how the Republicans ruined so many people's lives for political gain.  And how she coped with it.  She was always thinking of others:
I called Maggie Williams, who was devoted to Vince and saw him daily.  All she could do was sob, so both of us tried to talk through our tears... I called Tipper Gore and asked her if she thought we should bring in counselors to educate the staff about depression.  Tipper was both comforting and informative, explaining that many suicides come as a surprise because we don’t know how to read the warning signs.
"Forging good relationships with my fellow spouses provided back channels to heads of state.  During some early rough patches, Queen Noor of Jordan called to check in on me.  She told me that when members of her family faced hard times they would tell each other to "soldier on."  I joined Queen Noor in Amman to mourn her soldier King."
 Like I said before in my AlphabeThursday post, Hillary is a perfect person to hold the office of Secretary of State.  In the eight years as First Lady, she traveled overseas many times and made friends with many leaders.  Queen Noor of Jordan is a favorite foreign leader of mine, but I learned so much more about other foreign dignitaries.  Hillary wrote about how close she was to the spouses who signed the Mideast Peace Accords in Washington in 1995:
Leah [Rabin of Israel], Suzanne [Mubarak of Egypt], Noor, and I often discussed the ongoing negotiations.  No state secrets were exchanged, but we could provide an informal conduit of information and feedback, and Noor or Leah sometimes called me with a message that the King or Prime Minister wanted to convey to the President through informal channels.
Living History was written when Hillary was about my age.  Amazing!  She has done so much, and I'm sure she is destined for more great things.  But I never understood why she ran for the U.S. (New York) Senate while still First Lady.  The end of the book answered that question, and was written when the Clintons were just about to leave the White House:
During the White House years, I had often escaped to New York City with my mother and Chelsea to take in Broadway shows, museum exhibits or just to visit friends.  Even before I contemplated a run for the Senate, the state had been on the top of our short list of places to live after Bill’s term ended.  This desire grew over the years and had now hardened into a firm decision... We had already talked about buying a house, and before long, we were house hunting.
If you're interesting in politics and biographies (or autobiographies) like me, you'll enjoy this book.  It's a little long but so very interesting.  I recommend it!  All the photographs used here were taken from the book, but there weren't any lists of photographers, except for the cover.


Duni said...

I read her book and loved it! I really admire her strength. She really does 'soldier on' and she's certainly had her share of tough times. Great woman!

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

You know me...I'm not a reader.
But your Zentangle of Hillary is great!

tamdoll said...

So interesting. I don't often pick up non-fiction, but your excerpts and descriptions make this something that I might enjoy reading.
Thanks again for sharing!

Splendid Little Stars said...

Sounds very interesting, Deb! What a fascinating woman Hillary is! (I love it when plentiful photographs are included in books of this nature.)

cindy said...

Good review Deb!

Linda B said...

Great review. I'll have to write down the title.

Jenny said...

I love strong, smart women and Hillary is one!

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