Friday, August 14, 2015

Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I decided to read Hard Choices in the hopes that it would make me like Hillary Clinton more than I previously did. Her account of her years as the Secretary of State certainly affirms her sharp intelligence, her command of a wide range of issues, and her unflagging energy (just reading about her schedule made me tired). It convinced me that she loves her daughter fiercely, truly believes in the ethic of public service, and is loyal--to her staff and, despite everything, to Bill. She also cares about many of the same issues I care about. These are all positive things.

I also inferred that she doesn't have much of a sense of humor (she occasionally tries to crack a joke, but I don't remember laughing at any point in the 500+ pages of the book). She's quicker to consider military intervention than I would like the President to be and has more of an exceptionalist view of the United States (though she doesn't use that term) than I expected. She has an annoying habit of quoting her own speeches and telling the reader how long she's been friends with this or that eminent person. Too often (and this may reflect my own ignorance more than anything about the author), I felt diplomacy as she described it was modestly disguised bullying.

Would I recommend the book? Only to foreign policy devotees. I think the average reader would find it pretty dull. Do I like her better? Welllllll, not really--though I don't like her any less either.

Favorite passage:
Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. For leaders and nations, they can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.

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