Review Blog

Jul 26 2016

Hillary, a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Karen Blumenthal

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Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408873922
(Age: 16+) Recommended. 'The challenge is to practise politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible' - Hillary is quoted on the front cover. This biography by Karen Blumenthal traces Hillary's life story and reveals an amazingly determined and assured woman who always rose to the challenge no matter the obstacle. In fact opposition only made her more determined to find a way to prevail.
Early experiences provide insight into her strength of character. As a student of law she championed children's rights; her first scholarly article 'Children under the law' was published in the Harvard Educational Review'. Yet one of her first assignments as a legal aid lawyer was the defence of a factory worker accused of child rape, not a task she wanted to take on. Nevertheless she put enormous energy into giving him the best defence possible, bringing the case to a plea bargain. In any job assigned to her, Hillary immediately set to work and gave it her utmost. Early on, Bill Clinton once said of her 'this is a woman whose future is limitless. She could be anything she decides to be'.
What she decided to do though, was support him. She was Bill Clinton's strongest campaigner and strongest support. And it seems like their partnership was the perfect marriage of skills, his charm and sociability combined with her strategy and hard work ethic, a combination that saw Bill rise to Governor of Arkansas and then President of the United States.
The two of them also made a conscious decision, to provide a constant and close family relationship with their daughter Chelsea. Even at the hardest times, in coming to terms with Bill's infidelity, they were united not only in their combined goals, but their love for their daughter. There is a very poignant photograph after the Lewinsky revelations, a back view of them walking away together, Chelsea between them, holding both their hands. They do all appear to have come through that time, still linked by love and respect.
It is interesting to ponder what Hillary may have achieved if she hadn't chosen Bill and followed her own career. But the message of the book seems to be that each of them benefited from the partnership, it was their winning team combination that got them both as far as it did. Hillary's star has continued to rise - as Obama's Secretary of State, and now her tilt at the Presidency itself. No matter the outcome, it is clear she is an amazingly driven person, and it is fascinating to read how her life path has evolved. The book provides an inspiring story for young women of today, to stay strong, never give up, and believe in yourself and what you want to do.
Helen Eddy

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