My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“‘I sort of describe it as “stages of Hillary,”’ one member of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s inner circle said. ‘You know, you first dread the prospect of working with her, then you sort of begrudgingly begin to respect her, then you outright respect her and her incredible work ethic. You know she’s inexhaustible, she’s tough-minded … she’s charming and she’s funny and she’s interesting and she’s inquisitive and she’s engaging’” HRC – Kindle location 1682.
I’m not sure why I chose to read this biography of a woman whose views are on the other side of the political spectrum from mine and who lives and leads on the U.S. side of the border. But I’m glad I did. Furthermore, I found myself experiencing something like the “stages of Hillary” even as I read about her.
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes concerns itself with the six years from Clinton’s withdrawal from the presidential race in 2008 to the present. It ends by discussing the chances Clinton will enter the presidential race of 2016.
By the authors’ accounts, over 200 people provided interviews for the book. Many of these are anonymous but many voices are also named. Thus the book feels factual. However, its angle also gave me the sense that it is groundwork for Clinton’s perhaps-presidential-run in 2016.
In it we experience the Clintons’ shock and disappointment at being beat out by Obama in the 2008 primaries, Hillary’s surprise at being asked to serve as Secretary of State in the Obama cabinet, her baptism into the job, a behind-the-scenes look at statecraft Obama/Clinton style, the inside experience of headline events like the killing of Bin Ladin and the Benghazi incident, and more.
The book is pro-Clinton. I supposed it might be even as I studied the cover with its Hillary cameo of the Mona Lisa smile, and its simple title: HRC (short for Hillary Rodham Clinton), true to the “Hillaryland” way of using abbreviations even as it evokes the image of “Her Royal-highness Clinton.”
Through the book I came to admire Clinton for a multitude of things: her work ethic, her political instincts, her loyalty, her kindness and thoughtfulness, her attempt to understand and put to use new technologies in the service of diplomacy and politics, her toughness under pressure, her idealism, and her faith-grounded reasons for wanting to serve her country.
For me, a Canadian who doesn’t follow U.S. politics closely, the book was over-heavy with details—names of people from the Democratic establishment, the gossipy intricacies of their relationship and history with the Clintons, and program acronyms of which I read the full name once and promptly forget what they stood for. There is, of course, Google, which I resorted to once or twice to get my bearings. But, not needing to understand the minutiae, I didn’t let myself get too bogged in it.
As a whole HRC is an interesting read which will probably gain traction should Hillary Clinton declare herself a candidate for the 2016 presidential race. In that event, HRC will probably help more than hurt her.
I received HRC as a gift from the publisher through Blogging for Books for the purpose of writing a review.