Sunday, August 31st, 2014
My Dear America:
It has been a long time since I took the time to write a book review. The last time was back in the 70s when I had the pleasure of reviewing books for "Best Sellers" Magazine which was published by The University of Scranton. The Magazine is long gone now and I miss it.
My first published review for the magazine was for "The Other Woman" by Rona Jaffe. The book was awful and I was upset that I was not going to be able to write praise and accolades for my first published review. What I learned from that review and others after it was that I could be honest and write actual Constructive Criticism rather than Destructive Criticism, finding both positive and negative things to say about the books I was reviewing.
I will not have any problems coming up with praise for Hillary Clinton's book.
The reason I am writing this review when I haven't reviewed a book in several decades is because I feel strongly that this book can and will undoubtedly have a significant influence on the Presidential Election of 2016. It certainly will have an influence if Hillary runs for President in 2016. After reading this book I am convinced that if she is elected President she will do an extraordinarily good job.
Well, Ready or not - Here it comes
Title: Hard Choices
Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hard Choices is a book that has almost everything going for it. As a book it is well crafted and well published by one of the nation's leading publishers, Simon and Schuster. The extraordinary digital photography included in the book of Hillary with National and World Wide Figures is First Rate, as is the Cover and Endpaper photography.
Hard Choices is also very well written by Hillary Clinton. Certainly Hillary has enough power and influence to have organized a talented crew to help her with this project and she acknowledges that this was the case. She also has another excellent writer in the family (Bill Clinton - A Book Award Winner) who no doubt assisted Hillary in completing this incredible historical undertaking.
In the end, however, this book is the product of Hillary Clinton's intellect and writing ability and as such it proves to be an incredible accomplishment. The book is essentially a well organized series of chapters documenting what occurred during Hillary's extended period of employment as Secretary of State.
The book begins as her disappointing Campaign for President in 2008 ends. Hillary acknowledges that the Primary Campaign loss to Barack Obama was not easy for her. She was truly shocked when future President Obama, probably influenced by Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln Biography, "Team of Rivals" which was popular at the time, asked Hillary to become Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. Although she didn't decide quickly or easily she did finally say yes and the rest, as they say, is history.
Love her or hate her, Hillary Clinton has been and continues to be one of the most influential political figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. In terms of political influence in the Obama Administration it appears as though she had a great deal of influence and was a trusted adviser particularly on International affairs.
Certainly the image of Hillary Clinton traveling around the world is one that we all recall. Just how much traveling was involved is documented in the pages of Hard Choices. It seems as though she traveled everywhere and met and dealt with everyone of any importance during her State Department Duties.
Hillary not only tells the stories of National and International events but she also presents honest portraits of World leaders and people who worked with her and for her at the State Department. One of the most touching verbal portraits that she paints is that of Richard Holbrooke, an outstanding personality who was almost single handedly responsible for the end of the Bosnian War during Bill Clinton's Administration. Hillary Clinton put Holbrooke in charge of attempting to resolve the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two equally impossible world conflicts. In Hillary's estimation Holbrooke did an outstanding job but was not able to finish the assigned tasks. Clearly Holbrooke's sudden death hit Hillary hard, as did the death of two State Department Representatives and two CIA Agents in Benghazi.
Hillary tells the story of Benghazi in detail and after what appears to be her rendering of the complete story of Benghazi one wonders why Republicans continue to try to dig up more details in expensive inquiry after inquiry about this rather simple, yet terrifying story.
Hillary Clinton has much to say in her book about many world leaders, including Vladimir Putin of Russia and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, both of whom have much to do with what is currently occurring on today's world stage.
After finishing Hillary's highly readable and interesting Autobiography I felt as though I had traveled the globe with Hillary and in a sense I had.
This book is not only extremely interesting from a historic perspective it is simply extremely interesting from any perspective. Clearly this book shows that when Hillary Clinton has a job to do she will do her best to do it well. Even Republicans would have to agree, after reading this book, that Hillary Clinton really did a good job as United States Secretary of State. In my mind Hard Choices is evidence that Hillary Clinton is up to the task of being President. In fact, if and when she is elected perhaps she can return the favor to President Obama and ask him to be her Secretary of State. He will of course be out of a job in 2016 and may be as grateful for the opportunity to work for Hillary as she was to work for him.
Actually one of the amazing things about the Clinton-Obama relationship is just how much Obama trusted Clinton with regard to world affairs.
They had occasional disagreements, however. What has been revealed by Hillary recently and is revealed in this book is that she and President Obama did not agree on what to do about Syria. Clinton wanted to arm the less extreme Syrian rebels to fight against President Assad and President Obama refused to do so.
As ISIS terrorists roll into the consciousness of the world it is still hard to see who was right about Syria, Obama or Clinton. Many experts disagree as much as Clinton and her President did. Many say that arming Syrian rebels other than ISIS could have made life tough for ISIS. Others point out that ISIS has stolen and bought equipment from other Syrian rebels and still others point out that other Syrian rebels besides ISIS sold the recently beheaded American Journalists to ISIS.
The mysteries of World Politics continue and the truth is that we will never really know whether Clinton or Obama made the correct decision regarding arming Syrian rebels. We also don't know from reading Hillary's book whether or not the Syrian Rebel arms decision was the one that led to her departure from the Obama Administration.
Certainly I feel that the question of her readiness for Presidential leadership is answered by this book. Anyone capable of writing a book this good about a job well done by Hillary Clinton, in addition to the other outstanding items on her resume, including Senator from New York and First Lady of the United States, is enough for me and I think should be enough for anybody.
Hillary has stated that she will be making an announcement regarding whether or not she will run for President sometime early next year. If we are lucky she will run. If she is lucky she won't run and put herself through the wringer any more than she has already and she will ride off into the sunset with her grandchild. Presently, however, the mystery of will she or won't she will haunt the media for the immediate future while she makes up her mind.
Presently, if you haven't made up your mind about Hillary, I suggest that you take some time and read this book and I will be very surprised if you don't get ready to sign up for her campaign.
Well, there it is. Take it or leave it. I admired Hillary before reading the book but I really admire her now. I will certainly be in her corner if she makes the leap back into politics and I will vote for her in the Pennsylvania Primary just like I did last time. This time, however, I hope that I will get a chance to also vote for her in the 2016 Presidential Election, as well.
Certainly, I don't see anyone in the Insane Republican Clown Posse who can hold a candle to Hillary. In fact, I don't see anyone in the Democratic ranks who could possibly steal the Primary from her. But lets be cautious here. Nobody with any real insight saw Barack Obama coming the last time out in 2008 and it is Mr. Obama in the White House. There could be other candidates, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Former Governor Brian Schweitzer. We will have to see what happens after Hillary makes her decision and lets the rest of us know what it is.