Hillary Rodham Clinton may very well become the next President of the United States. While she has been working to possibly earn an opportunity for the highest job in the land, she has been busy fulfilling a myriad of additional responsibilities in local, state and federal government, a career of service that is both distinguished and overly discussed. However, HARD CHOICES is Clinton’s testament to the good and the bad of her time as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama in his first term. “All of us face hard choices in our lives. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become.” What has become of Clinton is an ever-further-reaching story that is not over yet.
“Smart” is a word many would use to describe Clinton, and it is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of both her political and private intelligence. She surrounds herself with people who she deems smarter than herself, although that is an arguable point. She discusses her commitment to serving her country in all the ways that have led her to become a national icon (from being the First Lady to serving as US Senator from New York, through the 9/11 tragedy, and onward and upward to the White House as Secretary of State). It is clear that she is using this book as an opportunity to put behind her all that she has done thus far --- and to look forward to an open vista of challenges and changes.
"HARD CHOICES is just that --- a hard choice for a woman who has so many other stories she can tell but, as is not so popular in American politics these days, takes the high road, assuming we are all smart enough to want the actual details about how diplomacy and negotiations happen in the real world."
Yes, she talks about becoming a grandmother and writes glowingly about her daughter, Chelsea, and preparing for Chelsea’s wedding. These are some of the personal moments that coincide with important governmental situations, like the raid on Benghazi and her work with victims of sex trafficking throughout Asia, as well as the rights of women in Africa and a million other initiatives that she kept at the top of her list throughout her Obama years.
Surface readers looking for her views on Monica Lewinsky or any of the many scandals that pundits have launched against her throughout her years in Washington will be disappointed. Her chapter on Latin America puts to rest a bevy of rumors about the trade agreements we have with Mexico and her stand on immigration policy. In her chapter on the Middle East, subtitled “The Rocky Road to Peace,” she gives a startlingly clear-minded perspective on all the varieties of crazy that she encountered during her tours. She addresses the situations in North Korea, Syria and Libya, as well as Iraq and Iran. With a strong hand and well-placed vocabulary, Clinton accelerates her reputation as a tough but considerate diplomat, a woman who can go into a village in a remote part of the world and comfort a young girl who has suffered brutality in her tribe and then go on to spend eight hours negotiating with Netanyahu without a break. This is the ultimate tome about multi-tasking, and for those of us who say that’s what we do every day, we need to readjust what we think that word means. Clinton gives it a whole new definition.
I know that many Tea Party types have slammed the book for being so talky and not delving into the more tawdry situations that have been covered in the media. HARD CHOICES is just that --- a hard choice for a woman who has so many other stories she can tell but, as is not so popular in American politics these days, takes the high road, assuming we are all smart enough to want the actual details about how diplomacy and negotiations happen in the real world. Clinton assumes that, like her, we won’t care so much about what she is wearing as we do about what she is saying, discovering and creating for men and women, children and families, the poor and left-out all over the world.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has written a political memoir that can stand tall on any bookshelf, alongside tomes by Jimmy Carter, the Bush men, LBJ, or her husband --- books in which great people with great lives and far-reaching consequences examine their personal intersection with the major events that continue to shape our Earth’s history. HARD CHOICES is a hard book to put down --- and I’m so glad that Clinton thinks I’m smart enough to devour all the information she reveals about what it’s like to be in the hot seat as Secretary of State.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on July 2, 2014