|From the Publisher:|
President Bill Clinton's My Life is the strikingly candid portrait of a global leader who decided early in life to devote his intellectual and political gifts, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work, to serving the public.
It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who, through his own enormous energies and efforts, made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White Housea journey fueled by an impassioned interest in the political process which manifested itself at every stage of his life: in college, working as an intern for Senator William Fulbright; at Oxford, becoming part of the Vietnam War protest movement; at Yale Law School, campaigning on the grassroots level for Democratic candidates; back in Arkansas, running for Congress, attorney general, and governor.
We see his career shaped by his resolute determination to improve the life of his fellow citizens, an unfaltering commitment to civil rights, and an exceptional understanding of the practicalities of political life.
We come to understand the emotional pressures of his youthborn after his father's death; caught in the dysfunctional relationship between his feisty, nurturing mother and his abusive stepfather, whom he never ceased to love and whose name he took; drawn to the brilliant, compelling Hillary Rodham, whom he was determined to marry; passionately devoted, from her infancy, to their daughter, Chelsea, and to the entire experience of fatherhood; slowly and painfully beginning to comprehend how his early denial of pain led him at times into damaging patterns of behavior.
President Clinton's book is also the fullest, most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written-encompassing not only the high points and crises but the way the presidency actually works: the day-to-day bombardment of problems, personalities, conflicts, setbacks, achievements.
It is a testament to the positive impact on America and on the world of his work and his ideals.
It is the gripping account of a president under concerted and unrelenting assault orchestrated by his enemies on the Far Right, and how he survived and prevailed.
It is a treasury of moments caught alive, among them:
In this much-anticipated presidential autobiography, the 42nd president of the United States reveals, for the first time and in his own words, how he sees his life and career. MY LIFE is a 900+page work that is ambitious in scope, yet very conversational in tone. Clinton speaks fondly of his early years in Hope, Arkansas, crediting his mother and his stepfather (whose last name the former William Jefferson Blythe adopted) for setting him off on the right path. Yet he does not shave off the darker side, including the untimely death of his birth father in a ditch by the side of the road months before Bill was born. Clinton recalls, it seems, nearly every event in his political life, big and small, as well as every person, big and small, who ever worked with him--or against him--from Arkansas to the White House. There is a grand sweep to MY LIFE, and policy wonks and scandal mongers alike should find enough in here to please. Clinton reviews just about everything that was on his calendar, but he makes sure, also, to reflect on those events. He assesses his major accomplishments, which include his record on the economy and his intervention in Serbia. He also shares his regrets on both the health-care issue and his failed attempt to broker a final, enduring peace in the Middle East. What is new and of interest is his version of his administration's awareness of the terrorist threat, and his targeting of Osama bin Laden. The ever-present, steadying presence of Hillary and his love for both her and their daughter Chelsea come through loud and clear. As for the Lewinsky affair, he blames himself. ("I did it...because I could.") For his impeachment, he blames partisan politics and an overzealous and (in his view lawbreaking) Kenneth Starr. MY LIFE is a combination mea culpa, political speech, and attempt to set the record for history. And there is a sense that it was also an opportunity for a now-retired formerly busy man to review, in repose, a full life. In his epilogue, Clinton says, "I think it's a good story, and I've had a good time telling it"--and that comes through loud and clear. A New York Times Notable Book for 2004.
"William Jefferson Clinton's MY LIFE is, by a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography--no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States for eight years. Clinton had the good sense to couple great smarts with a solid education; he arrived in Washington in 1964 and has been the nation's--or perhaps the world's--No. 1 politics junkie ever since. And he can write--as Reagan, Ford, Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson, to go no farther back, could not....But he's lonely, and in the quality of his loneliness lies much of his appeal. And he does have serious appeal. Nothing in this book becomes Clinton so much as his gentle, sympathetic treatment of his alcoholic, sometimes abusive stepfather, Roger Clinton, whose name he took and whom he calls Daddy...I happen to like long, smart, dense narratives and read MY LIFE straight through, happily. I may not know Bill Clinton any better than I did when I started, but I know recent history better, which surely can't hurt." - Larry McMurtry 06/24/2004 New Yorker
"It's almost voluptuous to read Clinton when he's recounting or analyzing a political race or a legislative battle, whether it's his own or somebody else's.....Passages like these, and there are plenty of them, are enriched by a characteristic mixture of shrewdness, and a nuanced appreciation of context. The problem is that the book is not a sculpture garden. It's a quarry. It's a strip mine. There's gold in that thar hill, but it's veined among layers of rocky sediment, and you have to bring your own pickaxe." - Hendrik Hertzberg 08/02/2004 Nation
"Clinton has many tales to tell, particularly a rich, sometimes moving account of his years before the public life, fit for future analytical historians and biographers. Clinton, true to form, is enchanting and infuriating, fascinating and perplexing, with some lies and evasions, as well as some truth and revelations; and always accommodating, eager to please. The personal and the political are intertwined. Vintage Clinton." - Stanley I. Kutler 08/02/2004 New Republic
"For the first couple hundred pages in his memoir...Clinton writes with grace and fluidity....He is a supremely unscripted man. And he is also a born storyteller, whose natural story, greatest story, and perhaps only truly interesting story is himself...." - Ronald Steel 08/09/2004