Former Secretary of State Clinton tells—well, if not all, at least what she and her “book team” think we ought to know.
If this memoir of diplomatic service lacks the preening self-regard of Henry Kissinger’s and the technocratic certainty of Dean Acheson’s, it has all the requisite evenhandedness: Readers have the sense that there’s not a sentence in it that hasn’t been vetted, measured and adjusted for maximal blandness. The news that has thus far made the rounds has concerned the author’s revelation that the Clintons were cash-strapped on leaving the White House, probably since there’s not enough hanging rope about Benghazi for anyone to get worked up about. (On that current hot-button topic, the index says, mildly, “See Libya.”) The requisite encomia are there, of course: “Losing these fearless public servants in the line of duty was a crushing blow.” So are the crises and Clinton’s careful qualifying: Her memories of the Benghazi affair, she writes, are a blend of her own experience and information gathered in the course of the investigations that followed, “especially the work of the independent review board charged with determining the facts and pulling no punches.” When controversy appears, it is similarly cushioned: Tinhorn dictators are valuable allies, and everyone along the way is described with the usual honorifics and flattering descriptions: “Benazir [Bhutto] wore a shalwar kameez, the national dress of Pakistan, a long, flowing tunic over loose pants that was both practical and attractive, and she covered her hair with lovely scarves.” In short, this is a standard-issue political memoir, with its nods to “adorable students,” “important partners,” the “rich history and culture” of every nation on the planet, and the difficulty of eating and exercising sensibly while logging thousands of hours in flight and in conference rooms.
Unsurprising but perfectly competent and seamlessly of a piece with her Living History (2003). And will Hillary run? The guiding metaphor of the book is the relay race, and there’s a sense that if the torch is handed to her, well….