THE SECRETARY by Kim Ghattas


A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power
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An intimate, admiring look at the four-year global travails of the secretary of state from a member of her traveling press corps.

A Beirut-born BBC journalist assigned to the U.S. State Department in 2008, Ghattas has closely observed Clinton in her busy, high-profile position as secretary over the last four years. Here, she records her key role in the reshaping of American foreign policy. Ghattas’ work is invaluable in revealing the effort behind the headlines, from Clinton’s choice of Japan for her maiden voyage to sparring with the Israelis, Pakistanis and Chinese, plugging holes from WikiLeaks revelations and riding the eruptions of Arab uprisings. Yet here also is a rare glimpse of the woman behind the glamorous name and powerful credentials: Flanked by her devoted young assistants, Clinton often ventured to the back of the plane, sans makeup and wearing her glasses, to share a drink and chat off the record with the cadre of reporters who regularly traveled with her around the world. Unlike her buttoned-up predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, Clinton seemed to relax amid her staggering travels and meetings, usually running late (“on Hillary time”) but giving everyone her full attention, speaking to rapt audiences and letting the officers who held her agenda sweat it out. Wielding her “soft agenda” of women’s rights, moving to repair much of the damage imposed by the Bush administration, such as the invasion of Iraq, and appeasing foes who gloated on America’s “imperial overstretch,” Clinton was quietly but firmly reaffirming U.S. leadership. Along the way, Ghattas, as a Lebanese woman who keenly felt the American betrayal of her country during the long civil war of 1975 to 1990, comes to a sense of forgiveness and understanding of American might.

A personal look at the Secretary’s diplomacy via a flexible, pragmatic approach rather than ideology.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0805095111
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2012


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