Living History

by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hardcover, 2003




New York : Simon & Schuster, 2003


[The author writes] about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady. [This book] is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton.-Dust jacket.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ajgreep
This book was much better than I expected. I read Bill's first and his was interesting, yet insanely long winded. Fortunately, Hillary's was a much easier go. I truly did learn a lot about her time in the White House and it was nice to hear her side of the story from a first person point of view, since the media villianized her so badly in the past (and still often does). Of course, it's a memior so it's 99.9% flattering, but people who criticize memiors for that should think twice - would you say bad things about yourself in your autobiography? I doubt it. Reading this book left me with a lot of respect for this woman, even if I don't agree with her on the issues all the time. But then again - who does? We all have our differing opinions and finding a 100% match is rare, and not just with our elected representatives. Overall, this was a great read - even if her constant comparisons of herself to Ms. Roosevelt were a little offputting after a while. I'd read it again.… (more)
LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
Mrs R C, I apologise. Until I read this book, I had thought of you solely as Mrs Bill Clinton. I was wrong.

This book is a tremendously dignified biography. Not unnaturally, it concentrates upon the period of the Bill Clinton presidency but, we learn about the things that made Hillary, Hillary. She is incredibly honest about her feelings when the Monica Lewinski story broke, but does not fall into the trap of turning this book into a swarded collection of soft porn stories.

Hillary comes across as a woman with her own mind; someone who knows what she wants to do, and does it.but, I find it very hard to associate this lady with the pushy, overbearing character portrayed by her political enemies: admittedly, she could bias the book to make herself sound good, but I think that somewhere in five hundred and fifty pages, such a deception would have shown.

The best thing about this book is that it gives the human side of the Clinton family, without being too sentimental, or too higher than thou. The Clintons are just an ordinary family, with extraordinary abilities.
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LibraryThing member melissarochelle
1/23/09 - Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman and I'm really sad that I ever doubted her. Now that I've finished the book, I still think she would have made a great POTUS, but Secretary of State is definitely a great position for her. As First Lady she traveled all over the world to further the rights of women and she actually made progress! Toward the end of the book, I feel like she really flew through the last few years of her time at the White House, but it's better than what Bill did in My Life. I would rather a little fast forwarding than going on and on.

To her credit, she actually really discussed the Lewinksy issue. I think it's terrible that the Clinton years are tarnished by such a ridiculous scandal. Should Bill have cheated on his wife? No. Should he have lied about? No, but ANYONE would have lied about it. Should he have been impeached? NO! The Lewinsky business was private, it had nothing to do with his job as POTUS. Personally, I think Hillary is an amazing woman because she stayed with him after his indiscretions.

12/26/08 - I really wish I had read this sooner. I'm just a few chapters in, but I already feel better about voting for Clinton in the primary. I had serious voter's remorse because I really wanted to vote for Edwards, but chose Clinton (because Edwards was out of the race by primary time in AZ). It was one of the hardest decisions in my life, but it would have been a lot easier if I had read this book earlier.
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LibraryThing member chutzpanit
I've always admired the Clinton family but never really understood them. This holds true for Hillary as well. I find her to be a hugely fascinating yet very complex woman. On the one hand, she is a stereotypical woman of her generation, married with both a BA and a law degree. With child and a working mother. But I never really felt that I could see what made her tick.

After reading her autobiography, I still don't know if I truly understand her. I certainly know much more about her childhood and some about her college years. I learned how she met Bill and what had originally drawn her to him.

Bill Clinton was an enigmatic man who really drew everyone around him to his charisma. Hillary was no exception. Hillary was actually dating someone else when she met him. They began dating during law school and spent much time together. After law school, Clinton moved back to Arkansas where he knew he would end up after law school. Rodham, on the other hand, went to Washington, D.C. where she ironically worked on the Watergate case.

Ultimately Hillary decided to follow her heart and moved to Arkansas to be nearer to Bill. She worked as a professor for a short while before joining a private law firm and marrying Bill Clinton. We all know what follows in her life. The book followed her time in the White House and the scandals that surrounded the presidency as well as the animosity she faced, being a very different First Lady than had been traditionally present in the White House.

Rodham Clinton juxtaposed her's and Bill's time in the White House with the times of the younger Bush presidency. She also spoke of times she spent with previous First Ladies, especially Jackie Kennedy. She felt a very strong connection with Kennedy for several reasons and valued her opinion, especially when it came to raising a child in the White House.

Throughout the book, Rodham Clinton stayed true to her White House promise, to let her daughter have as much privacy as possible and really did not focus on her daughter as a huge part of the book.

Of course, a book about the Clintons would not be complete without mention of the Monica Lewinsky scandal--something I have some strong opinions about (feel free to ask me my response would be to questions of that nature!!) Rodham Clinton spoke of how she felt throughout the whole experience but instead of explaining what was going through President Clinton's head, she simply stated that the story is Clinton's to share, not hers.

I really enjoyed learning about the details of Hillary Rodham Clinton's life but, as I stated before, I still feel that I don't understand her. I felt that even though she shared a lot of events that happened in her life, I don't feel that I know what makes her tick. To a certain extent, I felt that I was reading a history book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing BUT I was hoping to find out more about what goes on through her head, and more importantly, the emotions and voices of her heart.
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LibraryThing member yonsohn
A warning to the Hilary Haters: do not proceed to read the remainder of this review.
A wise pundit once said of Hilary that she is the most polarizing political wife since Marie Antoinette. He is correct to a certain degree, yet Hilary is more intelligent and capable than Marie ever was. I could see her as POTUS... Worthy of her Yale Law degree, her writing is fluid and flawless. Easy read, yet with enough meat to chew on.… (more)
LibraryThing member Angelic55blonde
I really liked this book. Before I read it, I wasn't sure if I liked her but after I did, I definitely am a fan of Mrs. Clinton. This book is riviting and she wrote very well. I did wonder if there was not some sugarcoating going on since she is highly political and was aware of her political ambitions when she wrote this book. However, it does give a good glimse into her and her life. I really enjoyed this even if it was a little sugarcoated.… (more)
LibraryThing member paulienos
Somehow, I get rather annoyed by the tone of this book and by the way Hilary is telling things about her life. She doesn't seem to be a nice person at all. I still want to finish it, especially looking at the fact that she is now running for US president...
LibraryThing member SLuce
Couldn't finish, read about two thirds. OK only.
LibraryThing member PlankGeek
A candid, well-articulated account of her life and career. Ms. Clinton does her own reading, and is a good speaker.
LibraryThing member mariabiblioteca
I listened to this abridged audio version while driving from Arkansas to Kentucky. Clinton was excellent company.
LibraryThing member cee2
I read this book partly because I agree with most of Hillary Clinton's political opinions and partly because I was curious about how she lived through some very embarrassing events. I found the interplay between public events and personal responses to those events very interesting. It's also fun to get an inside view of the workings of the White House.… (more)
LibraryThing member drpeff
well written. fascinating life she has had.
LibraryThing member bness2
Excellent book to read during this election season. Shows the human side of Hillary. It matches nicely with what I have gathered about her over the years from the news. She is a dedicated public servant who should make an excellent president.
LibraryThing member hermit
I read this when it was first released. This memoir is written in an attempt to mold the readers perception of the author. Her writing style matches her normal Midwestern style of speech which we have seen her change based on her audience. Using what appear to be a straight forward style to engender trust and sharing; the book is an easy read. She is self deprecating where appropriate adding authenticity to her memoir.

I am not sure if this memoir reflects how she sees herself or an image she is putting forth as her time as First Lady. A lot of research that has been released shows that this memoir is incomplete and distorted. Written for the public consumption to further her political ambitions. If she would have just used the facts of her life the book would still have been very interesting and even more compelling.

There is no question that her life has been interesting and she has great ambitions for herself and the determination to go with them. There is nothing that will be new to the reader though she has allowed a glimpse of her view of things behind the curtain of her personal life. An interesting read.
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LibraryThing member peggy.s
Basically, this book is Mrs. Clinton's experiences living history as the First Lady. The beginning of the book is about her early life and experiences, but the bulk of the book is the 8 years she was First Lady. Not only does she discuss her duties, she goes into detail about the pressures of working while the Starr investigation went on and handling her husband's unfaithfulness. I did enjoy reading it - and learned that First Ladies do much more than I ever thought! At places, I did get tired of the lists of names she gave (members of committees, people she worked with, etc) - but all in all, I liked this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member justindtapp
I wanted to read Mrs. Clinton's first memoir before reading Hard Choices. Years ago, I read a couple biographies of her, which made some controversial claims but included a few more facts and timeline checks than this memoir did.

It's a memoir, so you don't expect it to be soul-divulging, but her account is so whitewashed as to be almost unbelievable. Yes, all the investigations into her family's finances and personal lives by Republicans was unfair, but they also uncovered corruption and Clinton associates like Webb Hubble went to prison. Hillary writes that was "shocked" to find that her former partner was actually guilty of the charges leveled against him. So, while she blasts the entire investigation as a political game she hardly acknowledges that it uncovered crimes committed under her nose.

President Clinton told Monica Lewinsky that he'd made a concerted effort to remain faithful to Hillary after he turned 40. This indicates that he was not faithful previously, and we now know that his rendezvous with Ms. Lewinsky was only made possible by the Republican-led government shutdown that caused non-essential handlers to be out of the White House; Mrs. Clinton had made sure staffers knew to deal with Bill's "woman problem." None of that makes it into the memoir, she's shocked to find that Bill cheated on her, and spends little time reflecting on what an abuse of power it is for a boss to start a relationship with an unpaid intern. This whole account is so whitewashed, biographers will have fun with it a century from now.

That said, Clinton has had a remarkable career. She recounts her involvement making policy ranging from healthcare reform, CHIP, welfare reform (which alienated her former friends on the previous two issues), and women's rights. I found her friendship with Jackie Kennedy interesting, and she got to witness plenty firsthand as a quasi-ambassador, from abused women in Africa to dying AIDS patients in Southeast Asia. This comes across well in the book.

However, there is nothing in here about her management or leadership styles. How did she choose and develop her staff? What books influenced her thinking? How would she manage a government agency, let alone a White House? None of that is evident in the book (do only Republicans include such things in their memoirs, it seems to be a trend).

So, this was a good recap of the Clinton White House through the eyes of the First Lady, and a little bit of info about her successful Senate run, but not many details. 2 stars out of 5.
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LibraryThing member msaucier818
To be completely up front, I am a big fan of Hillary Clinton and was excited to read this book. I don't know why I haven't read it in the past since it has obviously been out for quite some time. I enjoyed reliving the history of the Clinton Administration as I was in high school and college during those years. It brought back a lot of memories and cleared up many things I had simply forgotten about.

I admire her strength of character and the way she told her story. Whether you agree with her politics or not, she has certainly been through some amazing and some difficult times, and her life story is fascinating. I wish she might have gone a bit more in depth in some parts of the history, and I wish she didn't name drop quite so often in the book, but overall I enjoyed the read.
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LibraryThing member
I read this during a rare moment when I was interested in political biographies. Fortunately the moment was short-lived.
LibraryThing member bcrowl399
After reading this, I understand the former First Lady a little better. She is driven. It's no wonder she became Sec. of State. I have a lot of respect for her.



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