It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House.
President Clinton's audiobook is also the most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written, encompassing not only the high points and crises but the way the presidency actually works.
It is the gripping account of a president under concerted and unrelenting assault orchestrated by his enemies on the Far Right and how he survived and prevailed.
It is a treasury of moments caught alive, among them:
Here is the life of a great national and international figure, revealed with all his talents and contradictions, told openly, directly, in his own signature style.
This is the second volume in the two-volume unabridged edition of My Life. Listen to My Life, Volume I (Unabridged).
©2004 Bill Clinton; (P)2004 Books on Tape
"My Life is, by a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography, no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States for eight years." (The New York Times Book Review)
This presidential (auto)biography does what most (sadly) don't: tells you about more than just their presidency. Many presidential biographies tell you very little about their pre-presidency, and so aren't as informative as they could be, especially if you know a lot about American history already. This prevents you from really understanding how the person ticks and why he thinks the way he does. Though I already knew a lot about his presidency, I did learn a lot about it from this book as well. It does a good job at filling in many of the gaps, and clarifying what was unclear.
Among the best. A very detailed and exhaustive recounting of the Clinton Presidency in Volume II, unmistakably written in WJC's voice, which is well represented in Michael Beck's reading. Its not an impersonation, but Beck nails the enthusiasm, intelligence and unflagging energy of Mr. Clinton. Doubtless, Mr. Clinton's critics would be off-put by the author's point of view and would tire of his relentless drive. But that is his story, his life, and he brings such passion to the writing about the job he clearly loved, that, more than any Presidential memoir I've read, "My Life" conveys something of what it must be like to be in office. Over the course of 2 volumes, you become familiar with Clinton's methods, his likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and what emerges is a rational account of an irrational period in our history.
The cumulative detail and the sense of the irresistible, unceasing movement of history. There always was another crisis, another budget, another challenge, another trap. Indefatigable, boundless energy and a manic need to engage and connect.
Mr. Clinton attempts to place his conduct, including his misdeeds, in the context of his upbringing and his background and you can feel his restless nature working toward some self-understanding.
As long and as detailed as the book is, I was ultimately carried along to the point the President's last fleeting days in the Whitehouse are poignant and full of meaning. It is remarkable to consider that, for all he had been through, his appetite and enthusiasm was undiminished. There may have been better Presidents but I doubt any of them had loved the job so well as Clinton.I was surprised by the prominence he affords the Starr inquest and the Lewinsky scandal which he weaves throughout the second volume. He acknowledges wrongdoing and weakness and self-indulgence and goes further, recognizing what those things say about his character and the consequences and suffering for those around him. The one figure in the book, the one man met and unrelentingly disliked, is Kenneth Starr, whom the President seems to exempt from his personal efforts to be more forgiving in the name of spiritual growth. Mr. Clinton, acknowledges his tendency toward self-pity and blame-avoidance, and then actually demonstrates those weaknesses by letting them all hang out during some of his diatribes against his persecutors. He is nothing if not smart, and this is no editorial or authorial oversight -- what we hear are the thoughts that fought through the complex, sometimes conflicted web of his mind. He allows his true nature to show through at the bare parts, at some cost to himself, for the good of the book, for the telling of the tale. What emerges is a sense of the simmering pressure cooker of his days and nights. Always, the Starr inquest is bracketed by the Nation's business -- the revelations, the indictments, the depositions and trials occur, not against the background of domestic and foreign crises and triumphs, but in the midst of them, providing some sense of what it must have been like to live in the center of those cross-hairs for those 8 years. And another intended aspect emerges in this way -- the triviality, the hypocrisy and the venality of his most fevered accusers and their utter lack of good faith. Clinton repeatedly and heatedly calls Starr on his conflicts of interest and his questionable tactics and ethics, but he is otherwise circumspect in castigating his attackers.Mr. Clinton devotes a lot of time and effort, commensurate with those same proportions during his time in office, to foreign affairs and his traveling around the globe to meet and deal with the world's leaders in its most troubled spots. He also burnishes his reputation for policy wonkery and budgetary deal-making -- no one ever outlasted this President in a negotiation (although the clock ran out in the Middle East during the waning days of his Administration). He formed personal relationships with many of the world's leaders, using these connections as a means to bridge cultural, political and sometimes military divides. It is not mere self-aggrandizement -- it comes to signify one of the central tenants of his worldview -- that our destinies are as shared as our genetic make-up (he repeatedly cites to scientific evidence that we all share more than 99% of the same, identical DNA). Clinton had a remarkable ability to process highly complex information and to synergize ideas and to formulate understandable arguments and then to foresee how they might be brought into practice. He had the trick of relentlessly reducing abstract concepts into human terms, how to get people to accept those ideas and then how they might impact on everyman's life. He combined raw political skill and instinct with a high level of intelligence, if not judgment or soundness of character. He was not above pettiness, self-indulgence and self-pity but those flaws could not extinguish his energy and passion for the process and the life of a President.
I think the first volume was much more interesting to listen to. The second volume got bogged down in names and dates. It could have been half as long and conveyed the same message. Still interesting to hear his perspective on how things happened.
I have not dealt with the print version
A candid view of Clinton's life, warts and all. I was especially impressed by his taking to politics at such a young age and the strength of his convictions.
No I have not
I would, it gives you so much of a broader perspective of what was happening during all those years when, in all honesty, the only side I heard was that of the media. While you have to take the presidents words with a grain of salt at times (he is after all one of the smoothest characters in recent history) it is so refreshing to hear this whole thing from his side.
It left me with a real understanding of why he might have been more successful that in a lot of areas than other presidents, because you get to understand the real man - even through his style of writing, his real personality shines through.
Listening to Whitewater (something I was too young to really understand at the time) unfold from his point of view.
His voice will have you believing that he is Bill Clinton after an hour or so.
An Introspective Conversation
Bill Clinton, himself
A Work in Progress
Lengthy - but gives insights into future actions.
In this book, Bill Clinton atempts to re-write his legacy, but will go down as one of the worst presidents who cared more about covering his tracks than serving the country. He fails to mention his numerous pardons for cash, his refusal to detain Osama Bin Laden when he had numerous chances, and his acceptance of cash donations from China while they stole secret US military technology. This book clearly demonstrates that the Clintons live in a world of their own. If you are looking for a good fairy tale, this is the book for you.
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