A Woman in Charge

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am

A Woman in Charge

by Carl Bernstein

Arrow, HK$168

Hillary Clinton may have been content for years to polish her husband's image so he could shine, but she was also ambitious in her own industrious way. This much is clear in Carl Bernstein's A Woman in Charge, a dense but eminently readable biography that not only fills in the details that have shaped Clinton's public life but also provides particulars about her life before Bill. The reporter who helped topple Richard Nixon interviewed about 200 of Clinton's colleagues, friends and foes to fashion a considered volume about the woman striving to become the 44th US president. Especially interesting are the sections dealing with her youth: she grew up a staunch Methodist in Chicago under a tight-fisted, cantankerous father who ran his home like an army boot camp. Contending that the Bill and Hillary White House years were a co-presidency, Bernstein also shows how overenthusiasm sometimes blurred common sense: soon after her husband was sworn in, she entertained ideas about becoming attorney general, forgetting the rules against nepotism. In rounding out his balanced portrayal, Bernstein revisits the bleakest periods of her life, the Monica Lewinsky affair being just one of them. That Clinton always came out with her head held high should give pause to detractors who discount her presidential chances.


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