I admit to being a bit biased since I’m among the pro-Hillary 2016 contingent, but I don’t really understand all the hate for this book. Yes, it’s blatantly positioning on the off-chance that she actually does run for president. Yes, it’s basically an extended campaign platform and yes, it can drag a bit as it ticks countries off the map.
However, for a former IR major, I thought the book did a fantastic job in bringing me up-to-date on current events as a whole. Clinton concisely described the historical and political background of American relations with each country, and how she changed or maintained the relationship during her tenure at Foggy Bottom. Interspersed with her recollections of her achievements and failures are very personal anecdotes about her family, her interactions with President Obama, and her connection with her staffers, other politicians and world leaders, and the American people.
The glimpses into her private life was one of the highlights of the book, because obviously that rarely happens. One of my favorite memories of hers was when she was traveling to Nelson Mandela’s funeral with all the living former Presidents and First Ladies. George W. Bush, who now is a prolific painter and in my opinion better at art than governing, pulls out his iPad to show off his latest works. In this and other situations, Clinton’s pains to remain complimentary make her purpose obvious, but still manage to seem sincere.
The two sections that most readers will focus on are those on the Taliban and on Benghazi. I think Clinton does a good job of explaining and justifying her actions in a way that she couldn’t in news interviews or before the Senate. It helps that she can lay out a coherent story as to why America is trying to work with terrorists or what went wrong that lead to the attack on the State Department compound.
The best way to view this book is to take it at face value as a good overview of global strategy during the Obama administration. For all the voters out there, this book may help them sort through campaign trail bluster and politi-speak come the next election, whether or not Hillary is in the race.