Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Woman in Charge or The Prince

A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Author: Carl Bernstein

Carl Bernstein's stunning portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows us, as nothing else has, the true trajectory of her life and career with its zigzag bursts of risks taken and safety sought. Marshaling all the skills and energy that propelled his history-making Pulitzer Prize reporting on Watergate, Bernstein gives us the most detailed, sophisticated, comprehensive, and revealing account we have had of the complex human being and political meteor who has already helped define one presidency and may well become, herself, the woman in charge of another.

We see the shaping of Hillary as a self-described "mind conservative and heart liberal" ---her ostensibly idyllic Midwestern girlhood (her mother a nurturer, but her father a disciplinarian, harsher than she has acknowledged); her early development of deep religious feelings; her curiosity fueled by dedicated teachers, by exposure to Martin Luther King Jr., by the ferment of the sixties, and, above all, by a desire to change the world. At Wellesley, we watch Hillary, a Republican turned Democrat, thriving in the new sky's-the-limit freedom for women, already perceived as a spokeswoman for her generation, her commencement speech celebrated in Life magazine. And the book takes us to Yale Law School as Hillary meets and falls in love with Bill Clinton and cancels her dream to go her own way, to New York or Washington, tying her fortune, instead, to his in Arkansas.

Bernstein clarifies the often amazing dynamic of their marriage, shows us the extent to which Hillary has been instrumental in the triumphs and troubles of Bill Clinton's governorship and presidency, and sheds light on her own political brilliance and her blind spots--especially her suspicion and mishandling of the press and her overt hostility to the opposition that clouded her entry into the capital. He untangles her relationship to Whitewater, Troopergate, and Travelgate. He leads us to understand the failure of her health care initiative.

In the emotional and political chaos of the Lewinsky affair we see Hillary, despite her immense hurt and anger, standing by her husband--evoking a rising wave of sympathy from a public previously cool to her. It helps carry her into the Senate, where she applies the political lessons she has learned. It is now her time. As she decides to run for president, her husband now her valued aide, she has one more chance to fulfill her ambition for herself--to change the world.

In his preparation for A Woman in Charge, Bernstein reexamined everything pertinent written about and by Hillary Clinton. He interviewed some two hundred of her colleagues, friends, and enemies and was allowed unique access to the candid record of the 1992 presidential campaign kept by Hillary's best friend, Diane Blair.

He has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently--even obsessively--asking about Hillary Clinton: What is her character? What is her political philosophy? Who is she? What can we expect of her?

The New York Times Book Review - Jennifer Senior

While he plows some of the same emotional terrain as previous Hillary biographers—notably Gail Sheehy in Hillary's Choice—his book holds together as a piece of writing, and he keeps the psychobabble to a merciful minimum. He also attempts to write a genuine biography, describing and interpreting the life Hillary has led and the varieties of forces that shaped her.

The New York Times - Robert Dallek

Carl Bernstein presents a—balanced and convincing picture of Mrs. Clinton—He also poses the essential concerns voters will need to confront in deciding whether they will support Mrs. Clinton's 2008 candidacy.

Ronald Brownstein - Los Angeles Times

Bernstein almost always finds new facts and telling details . . . [His] account benefits enormously from remarkably candid on-the-record assessments of both Clintons by intimates such as close friend Jim Blair and Betsey Wright, Clinton's gubernatorial chief of staff in Arkansas.

John Barron - Chicago Sun-Times

Hillary Clinton is somebody you think you know... which makes Carl Bernstein's new bio, A Woman in Charge, so surprising. Fresh, complete and detailed, it offers a welcome chance to recalibrate our gauges on her. You already know it's quite a story, but Bernstein fleshes it out as never before. He takes us from the hallways of Park Ridge's Maine East High School (where the yearbook wags called her Sister Frigidaire) to the intimate awkwardness of the White House family quarters as Monicagate descends. Bernstein, the famed All the President's Men journalist, is dead solid perfect in his reporting here . . . The detail and digging on display in A Woman in Charge is stunning.

The New York Times

Carl Bernstein presents a . . . balanced and convincing picture of Mrs. Clinton . . . He also poses the essential concerns voters will need to confront in deciding whether they will support Mrs. Clinton's 2008 candidacy.
&3151;Robert Dallek

The Economist

Serious, well-researched and fair . . . A Woman in Charge is . . . painstaking, sensitive and elegantly written.

Byron York - The Wall Street Journal

A remarkably revealing portrait.

Boston Globe

With admirable judiciousness and fastidious research, Bernstein explains everything about Hillary's rise. A Woman in Charge, in fact, is the most reliable Hillary Clinton biography to date, a must-read for anybody closely following the 2008 campaign.
&3151;Douglas Brinkley

Christian Science Monitor

This book is really a considerable achievement.
&3151;Peter Grier

Kirkus Reviews

A layered, thoughtful, critical biography of the woman who, at this writing, seems poised to become the 44th president of the United States. Hillary Clinton, to read between of-Watergate-fame Bernstein's (Loyalties: A Son's Memoir, 1991, etc.) lines, is a political cyborg, clinically devoted to remaking her image in order to appear to best political advantage, quick to shed ideology for expedience. Many of those who knew her in the White House, as first lady, consider her intellectually outclassed by her foxy husband, himself no stranger to image-remaking and self-serving expedience; her strengths there lay in organization and hard work, not in dazzling displays of dialectic. Bernstein lays many of her husband's failures, but not failings, at her door, "not just her botched handling of their health care agenda, or the ethical cloud hovering like a pall over their administration, but so many of the stumbles and falls responsible for sweeping in the Congress led by Newt Gingrich in 1994 and ending the ambitious phase of their presidency." A vast right-wing conspiracy faces Hillary, to be sure. It always has, beginning with her father, hypercritical and oppressive; happily, Bernstein resists the temptation to practice psychobiography without a license, but the influence on her adult life seems fairly clear even without such commentary. (Welfare reform? Tell it to a father who refused to give her an allowance because she already ate and slept for free.) Bernstein attributes to Clinton, too, a rather grim ethic of salvation through work, and he well documents her essential conservatism and humorlessness; the spice in all that is the thought that it is her job to save her husband from himself,despising his weakness all the while, even as the two formed "a single, intertwined governmental and martial power," one that may continue after a Bush interregnum. And as to Vince Foster, and Whitewater, and rumors of Sapphic revels, and vengeful calculation, and overweening ambition? Never fear: They're all to be found in Bernstein's revealing, admiring, often surprising book. First printing of 350,000

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The Prince (Dover Thrift Editions Series)

Author: Niccolo Machiavelli

Need to seize a country? Have enemies you must destroy? In this handbook for despots and tyrants, the Renaissance statesman Machiavelli sets forth how to accomplish this and more, while avoiding the awkwardness of becoming generally hated and despised.

"Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge."

For nearly 500 years, Machiavelli's observations on Realpolitik have shocked and appalled the timid and romantic, and for many his name was equivalent to the devil's own. Yet, The Prince was the first attempt to write of the world of politics as it is, rather than sanctimoniously of how it should be, and thus The Prince remains as honest and relevant today as when Machiavelli first put quill to parchment, and warned the junior statesman to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.

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