My Life - Volume I: The Early Years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 June, 2005, 12:00am

My Life - Volume I: The Early Years

by Bill Clinton

Vintage Books $62

Bill Clinton is just going on 59, and has years of politics ahead of him, as does his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. He has his eye on the future, and dishes no dirt in his memoir, which is probably why so many critics hate it so much. Clinton's legacy isn't yet clear, and it's useful that his 999-pager is now in a more accessible two-volume paperback. This first is the better of the pair and is about what Clinton was up against. From an abusive home in Arkansas and denigrated by southern Republicans as white trash, he proved that anyone could be president. It's not great writing, but The Early Years is good on the nature of politics, which is Clinton's passion. It's also clear that the American public knew of his indiscretions and his proclivity for being less than truthful about them when they elected him. What he did in the White House - personally, domestically and internationally - is in Volume II, which is the part the critics most panned. Skip it, until he gives a more honest and thoughtful account of his baby-boomer presidency and why he did what he did.