Trade Ed. Simon & Schuster Audio 2003
CD ISBN $30.00 Six CDs
DD ISBN 9780743567725 $17.95
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is a woman of many talents, including the ability to slime fish. She learned this skill while working in Alaska one summer during college, and, although she does not define the term in her new memoir, LIVING HISTORY, it sounds like a useful talent for a future politician. The major portion of Clinton's memoir is devoted to her years as a role-redefining first lady in the White House. It is full of both the shining and the tarnished events that we all remember-health care reform efforts, the endless Whitewater investigations, her advocacy for women and children's rights, the Arafat-Sharon handshake, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the fight to protect the president from impeachment. Clinton offers a comprehensive account that runs the risk of scrolling numbingly in the manner of a film with a too long list of credits. This is particularly apparent in the abridged audio's necessary cut-to-the-chase style. Thankfully, Clinton interrupts her blow-by-blow account with emotional reactions and reflections on the events of those years. Hillary Rodham Clinton comes across as smart, determined, humorous, and-you may or may not be surprised-a nice woman. Senator Clinton narrates the abridged audio of LIVING HISTORY in a forthright, level-voiced speaking style, which she would say is typically Midwestern. She is well paced, easy to understand, and, blessedly, possesses a moderately pitched voice that is pleasant to listen to. Admittedly, during the first half-hour or so she reads so carefully that the result is rather flat, yet as her comfort grows, she begins to vary her tone and develops an easy rhythm. Although the focus on the White House years is understandable, Clinton's early years are a story unto themselves. One hopes very much that she will one day expand on her engaging, all too brief account of them. The delight is palpable in her voice as she recounts her suburban childhood in a home that embraced both her father's conservative-and-proud-of-it Republicanism and her mother's quiet-yet-stubborn Democratic stance. Clinton is equally interesting in her reflections on her own transformation from a Goldwater Girl-yes, Goldwater Girl-during her college years at Wellesley to a Democrat during the turbulent 1960s. And for all of us, even those who profess not to be curious, she is delightfully funny about falling head-over-heels in love with Bill Clinton at Yale Law School. Bearded, he looked "more like a Viking than a Rhodes scholar" and seemed like "a force of nature." Of that marriage, she says that "they started a conversation" that still continues, which, as far as this reviewer is concerned, is all one really needs to know. (Yes, she does say more.) What else? Clinton both adores and admires her daughter, Chelsea. She values loyalty in herself and others. She is a fiercely devoted friend. And she seems genuinely committed to using politics as a tool to make the world a better place. That, and the ability to slime fish. She is worth a listen. A.C.S. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine [Published: AUG/SEP 03]
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