Hillary Rodham Clinton's inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America's 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future.
In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, she expected to return to representing New York in the United States Senate. To her surprise, her former rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is the story of the four extraordinary and historic years that followed, and the hard choices that she and her colleagues confronted.
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. They faced a rising competitor in China, growing threats from Iran and North Korea, and revolutions across the Middle East. Along the way, they grappled with some of the toughest dilemmas of US foreign policy, especially the decision to send Americans into harm's way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Drawing on conversations with numerous leaders and experts, Secretary Clinton offers her views on what it will take for the United States to compete and thrive in an interdependent world. She makes a passionate case for human rights and the full participation in society of women, youth, and LGBT people. An astute eyewitness to decades of social change, she distinguishes the trendlines from the headlines and describes the progress occurring throughout the world, day after day.
Secretary Clinton's descriptions of diplomatic conversations at the highest levels offer listeners a master class in international relations, as does her analysis of how we can best use "smart power" to deliver security and prosperity in a rapidly changing world - one in which America remains the indispensable nation.
©2014 Hillary Rodham Clinton. All rights reserved. (P)2014 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
I have often wondered what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was thinking on May 1, 2011 when that famous photo of her, with her hand over her mouth, was taken in the White House Situation Room as she waited for the results of Operation Neptune Spear. I read/listen to just about everything I can get my hands on about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, like Mark Owens and Kevin Maurer's "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden" (2012) and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates "Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (2014). I would have listened to HRC's "Hard Choices" (2014) just for her perspective on that mission, but this book has so much more.
HRC sets forth comprehensive US foreign policy, starting with her husband, Bill (William Jefferson) Clinton, president from 1993 to 2001; George H. Bush, 2001 to 2009; to Barack Obama, 2009 to the present. HRC has been a first hand observer or participant in international politics for more than 20 years, as First Lady; then as a Senator from New York; and then as Secretary of State.
The book is so current, it talks about Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea. HRC's position on Russia is hawkish, and Vladimir Putin should count himself fortunate she isn't president right now. I'm not an up-and-coming or current world leader, or rebel general working on being a dictator, but if I were - and wanted to know where I, or my country stood with the current most-likely-next-president of the United States, I'd find out in "Hard Choices".
If I wanted to know about her husband's infamous dalliance more than 20 years ago, I guess I could read "The National Enquirer" - but I wouldn't waste my I time reading about it and HRC doesn't waste my time writing about it. I would rather know her position on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, Syria's use of chemical weapons, or what might work in patching up international relationships badly damaged by leaks of candid assessments of world leaders in State Department cables. "Hard Choices" talks about those issues, not about whether staying with her husband was a difficult decision.
HRC has a unique view of countries and their leaders. Some nations - for example, China and India - have national feelings and attributes (inferiority and insecurity) that she does not confuse with the beliefs or actions of their leaders. Other very small nations - such as Qatar, with a population about 20% of that of Los Angeles County - are so closely aligned with their leaders, they can't be distinguished. HRC's ability to separate the nutcase in charge from the population as a whole has been key in the Obama administration's arguable successes in various Arab countries.
Which brings me to the editor part: "Hard Choices" is 657 pages in print and 27 hours on Audible. Even with 'a long commute' it took me a while to finish the listen, because, well, I got a mired in the details, and sometimes, I got bored. I had the same problem with Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005). I could have used a Playbill, a world map, and a timeline for both books.
HRC has a great voice, and I would have been happier with her doing the entire narration. She did the introduction, and there's an Easter egg: there's a 15 minute epilogue in her own voice. Kathleen Chalfant is fine, but it's not the same.
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I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book! It is amazing how much diplomacy goes on that you never hear about. As you read this book you'll learn about world history happening right now, which helps shed light on and add context to current events. Reading this book has given me a much great appreciation for the role of Secretary of State and the critical role that diplomacy plays in our international strategy.
Regardless of your political views, this book is a great read! After reading this book though, I have to say that am very glad to have had Hillary Clinton serve as our Secretary of State and I know that our country has benefited greatly from her contributions.
I love good writting and greyhounds.
This book helped me “get to know” Hillary more as a politician. Other writings have had political components, but this was different. In a sense it was Hillary, in her own words. My only wish was that the entire book had been Hillary in her own voice! I think she missed a tremendous opportunity to have imprinted her voice in our minds.
It was very carefully crafted and while some might think this was a negative aspect of the work, I am glad our potential, future President is thoughtful and pays attention to details. Yes, it was detailed and yes it was long. It was also educational at times and interesting throughout.
Yes.Hillary Clinton expertly runs through an incredible amount of information regarding her actions as Secretary of State and the circumstances surrounding them. In this, the short choppy bylines of our impotent domestic media are elaborated upon and fleshed out, casting light on on both the role of US Diplomacy and the countries that received her in her travels.
If you want some insight into a likely Presidential contender, this is a good spot. This is not Wolf Blitzer, Bill O'Reilly, or even Dan Rather's take on who Hillary Clinton is or what she's done. It is incredible how humdrum, though not boring, some of these issues can seem in her retelling. It is truly the result of one of the most seasoned political figures in the world being completely and totally in the briar patch, bouncing and happy, where most of us would be petrified by the sheer weight of responsibility.
I preferred Hillary Clinton's voice, but Kathleen Chalfant did an admirable job of retaining as much continuity as possible.
Clinton can show up in China, go on their television, and speak truth to their power-that women's rights are human rights, Tibet deserves freedom, and poverty is out of control. In response the giant of a country can only hope to keep as many people from hearing it as possible. Only words and nukes can be this powerful.
The narration in her own voice is abrilliant choice, adding nuances and emotion emphasis in rich layers. There is deep and wide high experiences shared here from her own life you won't get from media reports. I enjoyed the remembrances of her Secretary of State role the most. It revealed her compentcy and many accomplishments with intimate detail. I
I hope she runs for President of US and I hope she wins!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
In the book Hillary Clinton tells about her time as Secretary of State. I had read “The Secretary” by Kim Ghattas and “HRC” by Jonathan Allan and Amie Parnes which covered the same topic. The interesting part of the book for me was her side comments such as her discussion about William Seward; I read his biography last year. He also was a senator from New York who lost his Presidential nomination and the faithfully served Lincoln, the man who beat him, as Secretary of State. She frequently quotes Eleanor Roosevelt which I found delightfully as I am a big fan of Eleanor Roosevelt. The meeting to discuss increasing troops to Afghanistan was also described in detail in the book “Duty” by Robert Gates. Hillary covers in great depth her philosophy of “Smart Power.” She opens her tour as Secretary of State by travelling to Asia. She tells why she thought it was important to emphasize Asia, the problems facing the area, in fact, she goes area by area throughout the book describing each areas problems, what has been done, needs to be done to overcome the problems. She covers Burma, China and Pakistan in depth. A picture of Hillary does come through as a person who is an optimist and very persistent. It appears she keeps going, by building on the small victories so they outweigh the defeats. She goes about breaking things down. She is a disaggregator, who can’t see problems without trying to make it smaller, more manageable, and then she tries to fit the pieces back together again. Between the stories of diplomacy are scattered personal stories about her mother, her life as a college student, meeting and marrying Bill Clinton, her daughter and how much she is looking forward to being a grandmother. The book is cautiously written and free of politically charged rhetoric and appears to be factually correct. The only comments she made about two politically charged issues was on Iraq, she apologized. She said “I got it wrong” and she learned from the mistake. On the deaths of State Department people killed in Benghazi Libya she said she is responsible because she was Secretary of State. Hillary mostly has good thing to say about people including George W. Bush. She quotes a maxim from China’s Deng Xiaoping: “Coolly observe, calmly deal with things, hold your position, hide your capacities, bide your time, accomplish things where possible.” The book was narrated by Kathleen Chalfont and Hillary Clinton.
My eyes are going bad, and without audible, my mind would certainly go next...
Would surely have been better if she weren't running. The book MUST be playing it safe. I can't believe the actual foreign policy events were as dull as the recounting here. Any question the narrator might have salvaged it is moot: I've never heard a more killingly monotone performance. Still, I love Hillary - she's smart and pragmatic and will make a superb president - she will most certainly have my vote. But I wish I hadn't offered up my credit.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction audiobook addict.
I was, I must admit, relieved when I came to the end of this rather long book. Hillary Clinton is a powerful politician and she is in many ways a role model, given her accomplishments and given that she is a woman in a world where female politicians are rarely taken seriously. Still, it was noticeable that this book was written by a diplomat, a diplomat who is still an active politician and who may try to become president in the next election (she said she did not know whether she would run).
A central tenet she tries to bring forth is that nations should be able to cooperate on some issues even if they disagree on other issues. Of course to suggest otherwise would be radical. Image that the US cut all ties with China because they do not like their handling of human rights issues. Still, as a reader you want something a bit more juicy (or is it just me). I don’t want to hear that they are slightly about Russia and that they wish communication will improve in the future. I also could not tell you what Hillary really thinks about the conflict in Gaza, even though she spends many pages on this conflict. She certainly thinks it is a bad idea that Israel launches military offensives into Gaza, but at the same time she thinks that every nation have a right to defend themselves when attacked… What would Hillary do about this conflict if she became president? This book will not provide you with an answer (except that she wants a two-state solution).
What I want from an ex-secretary of state is details about “personal” communications with foreign leaders, and stronger stances on issues. Indeed there is such content in this book, just not enough considering that the book is more than 600 pages long. Still, what did I expect from an active politician who will not want to burn any bridges in case she becomes president?
Yes, because Hillary is able to humanize characters on the world stage that we only get to know by sound bites and shallow reporting.
Hillary's determination to find the truth, a leader's true motivation and her willingness to pull people forward and challenge their motivations and appeal to their goodness. She is not always successful and her triumphs are rarely complete but she is a true American motivated to live her ideals and protect ours..
Kathleen's inflections are similar to Hillary and I forget sometimes that it isn't Hillary reading. In that moment I am disappointed that it is not Hillary's real voice but understand that it is probably better to have a professional handle the audio.
I felt extremely frustrated with the quagmire that is our involvement in the Middle East. The irrational relationships we are burdened with because of our foolhardy entry into a war that we had no business starting.
Electrical Engineer with Federal Govt., retired in 2013.
I think since Hillary Clinton ( I voted for her in 2008) keeping it open the option to rerun for President in 2016 she cannot be expected to reveal what is she really thinks about personalities and events and countries. The narrative is flat, controlled and lacks any surprises. Perhaps when she is ready to retire from public life she would share with us her candid thoughts of the world as seen by her.
"Bring on 2016"
As with most political literature, the print version of this book looks dauntingly large. I found having this as an audio file on my phone far better, mainly because it meant I could do other things while listening.
I like that, unlike some politicians, Hillary is - comparatively - brutally honest about her decisions. Although there are several personal anecdotes to help the story along - she starts by describing the meeting she had with her campaigners post-losing to Obama - the focus is still on the decisions she made as Secretary of State, and the consequences of such decisions.
This book is very clearly narrated, with some emotion from Hillary that adds to the story she's portraying. It allows the listener better access, not only to the plot but also to the effects those decisions have had on the person who made them.
I definitely don't think you could listen to this book all in one sitting, unless you were doing other things at the same time.
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