Summary and book reviews of Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Living History

by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Living History
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2003, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2004, 592 pages

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Book Summary

A surprisingly engaging and, at points, even compelling book...Clinton provides enough of a peek behind the curtain to keep the pages turning and presents intriguing new details on her role in shaping the policies of her husband's presidency.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady. Living History is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain -- responding to the changing times and her own internal compass -- and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America's great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women's rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, Living History captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice -- as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics.

Chapter 5
Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was hard to miss in the autumn of 1970. He arrived at Yale Law School looking more like a Viking than a Rhodes Scholar returning from two years at Oxford. He was tall and handsome somewhere beneath that reddish brown beard and curly mane of hair. He also had a vitality that seemed to shoot out of his pores. When I first saw him in the law school's student lounge, he was holding forth before a rapt audience of fellow students. As I walked by, I heard him say: "...and not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world!" I asked a friend, "Who is that?"

"Oh, that's Bill Clinton," he said. "He's from Arkansas, and that's all he ever talks about."

We would run into each other around campus, but we never actually met until one night at the Yale law library the following spring. I was studying in the library, and Bill was standing out in the hall talking to another student, Jeff Gleckel, who was trying to persuade Bill...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Hillary Rodham Clinton's father was a staunch Republican, her mother a Democrat who believed in a social safety net. Talk about the way both ideologies have shaped her personal and political life, and her ability to work with people whose views she does not share.

  2. Who were Clinton's early role models? What are some of the early experiences that shaped her life? What made her leave the Republican party to become a Democrat? Do you think that she is a product of her times? If so, how?

  3. Identity is a central theme of Living History. How does Clinton identify herself? How has she been identified by others? How has this affected her political career? Her personal life?

  4. Hillary Rodham Clinton has had a long and ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Kansas City Star

The only thing that matters, with any book, is this Is it worth reading? And in the case of Living History, the answer is yes...it's going to be hard for any but the most partisan to ignore her grace, and her mix of self-confidence and the insecurities that seem to burden us all.

The New York Times - Maureen Dowd

Living History is neither living nor history. But like Hillary Rodham Clinton, the book is relentless, a phenomenon that's impossible to ignore and impossible to explain.

The Denver Post - Tom Walker

Living History is a solidly written, personal account from a major player in one of this country's most politically contentious periods. It is an important part of the record.

Los Angeles Times - Ronald Brownstein

[Hillary] Clinton has produced a surprisingly engaging and, at points, even compelling book. Especially once the couple reaches the White House; she provides enough of a peek behind the curtain to keep the pages turning. She presents intriguing new details on her role in shaping the policies of her husband's presidency.

Reader Reviews

William Halverson

The book is, of course, as much about Hilary Rodham Clinton as it is about the events she discusses. She is clearly the most important American woman in politics since Eleanor Roosevelt, whom she understandably admires. She writes with grace and ...   Read More

Rita J

Broaded my view of the world and altered my thinking. The Hilary you come to know is not the one the press has vilified. She has applied her talents and efforts to improve human rights and better the United States and the world in spite of ...   Read More

Rita

Very captavating-a real page-turner- She is a heroine in my book.

Anonymous

I am only about half way through this book. It may turn out to be a five, I don't know. I always respected HRC but I didn't feel compelled to read her works until I finished her husband's autobiography. I am taking it in with a grain of salt and ...   Read More

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