Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Woman in Charge

A Woman in Charge
Carl Bernstein
Vintage Books, 2008. 638 pgs. Biography

At the Democratic National Convention last month, Hillary Clinton said, “I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.” It certainly can be hard to figure out who she really is – popular opinion of Clinton paints two wildly different pictures. Is she the “congenital liar” and criminal depicted by her political opponents, or, as her staunch supporters say, is she an idealistic advocate for children and women who has been maligned by the right? Hoping to learn about Clinton’s life in a balanced way, I did a little research to find a good biography, and A Woman in Charge by Carl Bernstein consistently came up as the most recommended option.

I was impressed by this biography and recommend it to anyone looking for a well-researched account of Clinton’s life. Bernstein, famous for his investigative reporting with Bob Woodward on the Watergate scandal, approaches Clinton with understanding and often admiration. At the same time, he sharply criticizes many of her actions, particularly the way that her intense privacy leads her to secrecy and cover ups.

My only disappointment was that A Woman in Charge focuses closely on the Clintons’ time in the White House and was a little less detailed on other times in their lives. It is particularly short on information about Hillary’s time in the Senate, and since the biography was published in 2008, it of course includes no details about her experiences as Secretary of State. I’ll have to do some outside reading about her work in those offices, but overall I feel like I came away from this biography better informed for the November election.

- SR

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