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.
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.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
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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Pros: Secretary Clinton is clearly fiercely intelligent and dominates the international landscape. While this IS a campaign book, the breadth and depth is impressive.
She is candid about her ideological position, even though she is more hawkish than the average democrat.
Throughout there are weak points were there is no substance, just platitudes that sound like they've gone through focus groups.
Glad I listened to this book in its entirety, but I did consider quitting a few times.
The reading and production are excellent.
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.
I appreciated the narrative quality of the book. It would have been difficult to complete had it simply been intended to posture for political purposes. The narrator was well-composed. The material flows well.
I would recommend this book to a friend who is not of the faint of heart. It's extremely long and complicated, with excellent nuggets of insight throughout.
I would not be willing to try another book read by Kathleen Chalfant. The first chapter, which was read by Mrs. Clinton herself, was excellent. Ms. Chalfant's voice is thin and grating. I'm only a few chapters into the book and am having trouble forcing myself to listen because it's annoying to listen to it.
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.
I enjoyed this book, but it's long. A couple of the chapters are a bit dry - by the time Syria rolled around it felt a little repetitive. I have more appreciation for how difficult and complex the Secretary of State Job is having read this book.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction 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?
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.
"Hilary 'solus contra mundum'"
A ripping re-telling of American foreign policy during the time of Hillary Clinton as Sec of State. The book adds many insights into the events and tangled personal relationships developed while she was in office. Well worth listening to even if you are left with the feeling it is only the US and indeed Hilary her self who can affect change around the globe. Many fascinating vignettes and glimpses into the life of a senior politician and the office of Secretary of State, a life of a person who may well yet become the next and 45th president of USA. Enjoy, another extraordinary and very formative part of the unfolding Clinton dynasty
"Hard Choices - Hillary Rodham Clinton"
An excellent look into the real world of a magnificent woman - such a full and amazing life - whether HRC decides to run for President of the USA or not nobody could have spent their life giving so much to the rest of the world. I kind of hope she does as nobody has ever had so much experience in the field of global politics. Good Luck HRC (from a Brit too!)
"Yup she's a politician"
Normally I would not read anything written by politicians, on principle but when Barack Obama was elected, I was intrigued. I bought and listened to the two books on his life story and was impressed by his intellect and honesty. I was particularly impressed by the respect he had for his wife and his acknowledgement of her strength. As a result I looked forward to this book written by a women he obviously respected for her strength and intellect. I was disappointed. The book was politically correct, said all the right things in the right places but lack personality and courage, It could have been so much more and would have earned so much more respect if Hilliary had been been true to herself. She was so careful to tow the part line that she got lost in the mix. I look forward to the honest follow up to this book. The one where she tells her husband that infidelity is not acceptable and she tells Barack she is pissed at being his 2 IC but she will do the job anyway to stay in the lime light. I really want to see the unread-acted version of this book because I suspect that is the version worth reading.
"insight into diplomacy "
great to understand how international diplomacy works. how leaders build relationships. I liked the way it was broken in different continant.
One Formidable Lady
Insightful and well written / narrated. Maybe Hillary could have come across as a bit more human though, thought it was defensive at times but all in all very informative.
"Occasionally challenging to an English ear...."
Although I want to state outright I enjoyed this book and look forward to listening to it again in all honesty I must admit to having struggled with it at times. The pro American hyperbole is to be expected as is the dramatically squiffed world view of Americas part in apparently all world decisions but sometimes this does feel like a giant cv that should be entitled ' Why I should be President'. Having said that I found the areas addressing her own family and reasons for entering and continuing to be engaged in politics to be deeply moving.
Ok, Im off to eBay now to buy an 'I love Hilary' badge.....
I enjoyed the book and found I could 'dip' in and out of it without any problems. I felt it provided an interesting perspective knowing Rodham Clinton is now in the presidential race. If you're at all interested in Hillary, I recommend the book (but if you're after 'gossip', this is more of a political chronical).
"Chaper1 read by Hilary is engaging. Rest not"
The whole thing should have been read by Hillary. It was really disappointing that after the first chapter, the rest was by another reader. It just didn't carry the weight or tone of the author's own voice. I stopped listening.
"Really interesting story, very enlightening"
Even though I do not like Hilary, at the end of this book, I had a new respect for her, and for the job of Secretary of State. The endless crisis of her tenure were in intriguing and very educational regarding world politics and USA's commitment to democracy through out the world. Also interesting was to see the hypocrisy with how many tyrannical regimes we turn a blind-eye to in the name of national security.
I wish that Hilary took the time to narrate this herself, but the person who did, sounded so much like her, I felt like it was Hilary telling the story after all
"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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