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Hillary Rodham Clinton's inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America's 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future. "All of us face hard choices in our lives," Hillary Rodham Clinton writes at the start of this personal chronicle of years at the center of world events. "Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become." In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, she expected to return to representing New York in the United States Senate. To her surprise, her former rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is the story of the four extraordinary and historic years that followed, and the hard choices that she and her colleagues confronted. Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. They faced a rising competitor in China, growing threats from Iran and North Korea, and revolutions across the Middle East. Along the way, they grappled with some of the toughest dilemmas of US foreign policy, especially the decision to send Americans into harm's way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. By the end of her tenure, Secretary Clinton had visited 112 countries, traveled nearly one million miles, and gained a truly global perspective on many of the major trends reshaping the landscape of the twenty-first century, from economic inequality to climate change to revolutions in energy, communications, and health. Drawing on conversations with numerous leaders and experts, Secretary Clinton offers her views on what it will take for the United States to compete and thrive in an interdependent world. She makes a passionate case for human rights and the full participation in society of women, youth, and LGBT people. An astute eyewitness to decades of social change, she distinguishes the trendlines from the headlines and describes the progress occurring throughout the world, day after day. Secretary Clinton's descriptions of diplomatic conversations at the highest levels offer listeners a master class in international relations, as does her analysis of how we can best use "smart power" to deliver security and prosperity in a rapidly changing world--one in which America remains the indispensable nation. This twenty-one-CD program is read by Kathleen Chalfant and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton offers a highly interesting and thoroughly thought-provoking book, which lays out her time as Secretary of State for the United States, from 2009-2013. Within these many pages, Clinton touches on some poignant issues and gives some wonderful, behind-the-scene looks into life of the country's key face around the world. Defying the odds and turning what many would likely call a policy-heavy job and personalising it with wonderful stories and historical background to allow the reader a better understanding of the position without boring them to tears, Clinton connects with her intended audience. The book flows fairly effortlessly between background, crisis, and solution, without bogging itself down in too much hullabaloo and keeps these four years within the spotlight. It exemplifies America's key diplomat and her struggle to keep a level-headed approach in a world chock-full of issues and quagmires. A book definitely worth some time and effort, should the area or its author be of interest.

Clinton presents an analytical approach of her time as Secretary, choosing not only to pul key events and sift through the US approach, but also exploring relations with countries around the world, based on her international connections. While retelling stories from these trips, the reader has a greater understanding of the key tenets of the trips, as well as the importance Clinton places on the actors. With this context, the events, actors, and US approach all makes much more sense to the keen, but perhaps politically naive, reader. Her personal anecdotes, pulled from her time as First Lady as well as US Senator, also help give some context to Clinton's past visits and the changes she notes as time progresses. She is able to nail down some key world events that took place on her watch, including the fall of some autocratic rulers in the Middle East and North Africa, clashes with the Chinese and Russians over human rights, and the rise of freedom in some Asian dictatorial states. These help fuel the strong policy-based approach of America, that all should live a free and democratic life, but Clinton does not seek to inculcate, a la Bush, on these topics. Within the book as well, Clinton does not shy away from discussing some social issues that plague both the US and countries around the world (pollution, employment, and gay rights). Here, she pushes out her soapbox and discusses some of the key stumbling blocks, domestic and international, to forging ahead in the 21st century. Again, the club is kept sheathed and the reader can draw conclusions of their own.

As mentioned above, the book is highly readable and flows quite effectively. Rarely does Clinton get bogged down in the nuances of either internal debate or international negotiations. She presents the reader with some of the key points, the actors who played a role, and the fallout from any occurrence. Clinton talks about her personal relationship with both American and international players, giving her personal as well as professional relationship with them, and is able to convey their importance in the larger picture. Her connections are vast and her knowledge of the world scene is by no means impeded by a lack of experience. With that in mind, and perhaps this comes from a highly nationalistic sentiment on my part, while Clinton does mention Canada has being both highly paralleled in approaches on the international scene with the US, and one of the country's strongest trading partners, there is but a minute mention of it in the massive tome. One can count on a single hand the number of times the country is mentioned, while places like Mexico and even Botswana receive more ink. This is not something that is odd in American political memoirs, though, so the fault cannot rest solely with her. Perhaps, and I have little doubt this might be part of the case, Canada and their leaders are simply too bland for any interaction or mention on the world scene, by our neighbours to the South.

Only the most naive reader would not realise that the release of this book, as well as its contents, are not timed to coincide with announcements surrounding the 2016 presidential ticket, even if a vague denial is offered in the closing pages. The book has it all, a veritable resume for the ideal candidate, at least for a Democrats. Should Clinton decide to run, those who remain unsure could turn to this book for help in deciding if she has done enough to merit a nod. That said, with no clear GOP candidate yet, it should make for an interesting year in the political memoir/biography aisle at your local bookshop!

Kudos, Madam Clinton for making those four years in a key role so interesting and paving the way for what is sure to be an interesting lead-up to 2016.