The New York Times
Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clintonby Jeff Gerth, Don Van Natta
Her Way has already sent shock waves through the election season and forced Hillary Clinton's camp to answer some difficult questions about Iraq, her ambitions, and her political future. This acclaimed biography takes readers from the dorm rooms of Wellesley to the courthouses of Arkansas and Washington, to the White House, where Hillary presided as a First Lady
Her Way has already sent shock waves through the election season and forced Hillary Clinton's camp to answer some difficult questions about Iraq, her ambitions, and her political future. This acclaimed biography takes readers from the dorm rooms of Wellesley to the courthouses of Arkansas and Washington, to the White House, where Hillary presided as a First Lady like no other, to the back rooms of the Senate, to her multimilliondollar mansion in Washington, DC, the locus of an unparalleled political machine; to her war room, from which she orchestrates ferocious attacks on her critics; and to the campaign trail, where she now faces the greatest challenge of her political life.
About the Author:
Jeff Gerth is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter
About the Author:
Don Van Natta Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and the author of the bestselling First Off the Tee
The New York Times
- Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date:
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- 6.25(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.75(d)
Read an Excerpt
By Jeff Gerth Don Van Natta Jr.
Little, Brown and CompanyCopyright © 2007 Back Nine Books LLC
All right reserved.
Chapter OneChase and Run
In the student lounge of Yale Law School, in September 1970, Hillary Rodham could not help noticing a tall, handsome young man with a reddish brown beard and an unruly mane of chestnut brown hair. He was talking energetically and expansively with a small circle of rapt students, and Hillary later observed that he looked more like a Vi king holding court than a first-year law student trying to win over a few friends.
The first words that Hillary heard him say, in a syrupy southern drawl, were "... and not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world!"
"Who is that?" Hillary asked a friend.
"Oh, that's Bill Clinton," the friend replied. "He's from Arkansas, and that's all he ever talks about."
Hillary did not meet Bill that day. In fact, nearly two semesters passed before they would finally be introduced. Through that fall and into the spring, however, the two spent a lot of time just staring at each other across the student lounge or the law library. One spring evening in the library, Hillary observed Bill in the hallway, talking to a student named Jeff Gleckel, who was attempting to persuade Bill to write for the Yale Law Journal. As he listened to Jeff 's pitch, Bill once again found himself glancing over at Hillary. Finally, Hillary decided that enough was enough. She stood up from behind her desk, walked over to her admirer, extended her hand for a shake, and said, "If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I'm Hillary Rodham."
Bill was flummoxed and flattered by this young woman's forwardness - her boldness nearly left him speechless, which in itself was quite a feat. But for Hillary, it was neither a surprising move nor an uncharacteristic one. As long as anyone could remember, Hillary Rodham had seized the initiative in a way that made people's heads spin.
"I wasn't born a First Lady or a senator," Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in the opening paragraph of her 2003 autobiography, Living History. "I wasn't born a Democrat. I wasn't born a lawyer or an advocate for women's rights and human rights. I wasn't born a wife or mother. I was born an American in the middle of the twentieth century, a fortunate time and place."
Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago on October 26, 1947. Her childhood, spent primarily in the leafy suburb called Park Ridge, was a happy one, thanks to her parents, Hugh and Dorothy Rodham. Her father was a scrappy and hard-edged Welshman from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who had found work as a traveling salesman in the Midwest at the Columbia Lace Company. It was there that he met Dorothy Howell, who was applying for a job as a typist. She was immediately attracted to his cocksure demeanor and disciplined work ethic; she even found charm in his acerbic sense of humor. In 1927, Dorothy's parents had divorced when she was only eight years old, a decision that embarrassed the family because divorce was not common in the 1920s. Her mother and father had then sent Dorothy and her brothers and sisters to live in California with their grandparents. Despite understandable reservations about matrimony, Dorothy married Hugh in early 1942, not long after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the children quickly arrived - first Hillary, then Hugh Jr., and finally Tony.
The Rodhams worked to ensure that Hillary and her two brothers grew up with every advantage in a pleasant, secure environment. They lived in a well-kept two-story brick home on the corner lot of Elm and Wisner streets, a house bought by Hugh with cash. "We had two sundecks, a screened-in porch and a fenced-in backyard where the neighborhood kids would come to play or to sneak cherries from our tree," Hillary wrote in her autobiography. "The postwar population explosion was booming, and there were swarms of children everywhere. My mother once counted forty-seven kids living on our square block."
Parked in their driveway was a shiny Cadillac, its presence a bit deceiving. Hugh was one of the few tradesmen who lived on Elm Street. Most of the fathers of Hillary's young friends were lawyers, doctors, or accountants who commuted on the train every day to their offices high above the Loop. Hugh's fancy car was not so much a sign of well-being as a professional necessity: He needed it to make sales rounds for the drapery company named Rodrik Fabrics that he had founded a few years before the family moved to Park Ridge. Hugh worked fourteen hours a day at his fledgling business, which manufactured draperies for hotels and office buildings, single-handedly attending to every task - from taking orders by phone to sewing the draperies by hand to finally hanging them himself. Only years later, when his two sons were old enough to pitch in on the occasional Saturday, did he get help.
Hugh was "a small businessman, who taught us by his example the values of hard work and responsibility," Hillary once said. A Republican, he was proud that he had served as a chief petty officer in the navy, where he had prepared young recruits to fight in the Pacific theater. At home, Hugh suffered no fools gladly, demanding that his children be smart and tough and absorb life's many jabs without complaint. Hillary recalled that Hugh's strictness was reserved more for his sons than for her. But his lofty expectations that they excel in school and think on their feet were applied to Hillary as well.
Hillary's mother, Dorothy, was later described by her daughter as "a classic homemaker." She woke up at 6:00 a.m. sharp, made the beds, cleaned the clothes, washed the dishes, and whipped up homemade lunches of chicken-noodle and tomato soup and grilled-cheese, peanut butter, and bologna sandwiches. From an early age, Dorothy noticed, Hillary seemed imbued with a sense that she was special. As a youngster, she spent hours dancing in the sunshine in her backyard with her arms stretched above her head, reaching for the maple trees and the sky. She imagined a platoon of "heavenly movie cameras watching my every move," Hillary later recalled. And when interacting with other children or meeting adults, Hillary demonstrated a maturity far beyond her years. Dorothy Rodham often said that it seemed as if her only daughter was born an adult.
Though she might have carried a grace and strength that belied her age, Hillary still had to deal with the usual childhood battles. At the age of four, shortly after the family moved to Park Ridge, Hillary struggled to find a niche among the neighborhood's chaotic group of preschool children. She was given an especially hard time by a young girl named Suzy O'Callaghan, who was stronger and tougher than all the girls and most of the boys. Suzy often beat up the neighborhood kids, including Hillary, who ran home crying one day to tell her mother.
If she expected sympathy, her mother delivered none. "There's no room in this house for cowards," Dorothy told her daughter. "Go back out there, and if Suzy hits you, you have my permission to hit her back. You have to stand up for yourself."
Sure enough, Hillary stomped outside and, with a circle of boys and girls watching (and Dorothy spying from behind the diningroom curtain), she returned one of Suzy's punches, knocking the bully to the ground. Hillary returned triumphantly to her house, telling her mother, "I can play with the boys now! And Suzy will be my friend!" "Boys responded well to Hillary," Dorothy later said with pride. "She took charge, and they let her."
Indeed they did. Hillary emerged as one of the natural leaders in the children's marathon games of basketball, ice hockey, kickball, and softball. Yet she preferred imaginative contests, like a rather complicated one called "chase and run," which resembled hide-and-seek. When Hillary was ten or eleven years old, she began to join the grown-ups, playing pinochle with her father, her grandfather, her uncle Willard, and some of their odd pals, including two cranky old men named Old Pete and Hank, both terrible sore losers. ("Is that black-haired bastard home?" Old Pete would ask Hillary of her father as he marched up the front porch stairs, rattling his cane. "I want to play cards.") More than once, Old Pete toppled a card table after a tough defeat.
Hillary learned lessons about work and sportsmanship from the men in the family, but it was her mother who provided the most direct and intimate evidence of the importance of scholarship for girls at a time when few opportunities were available to them. "My mother loved her home and her family, but she felt limited by the narrow choices of her life," Hillary wrote in her autobiography. "It is easy to forget now, when women's choices can seem overwhelming, how few there were for my mother's generation." Hillary saw her mother's frustration with the limited number of personal and professional choices. She was also touched by her mother's lifelong zeal for learning. Dorothy took college courses, and though she never graduated, she managed to accumulate dozens of credits in a wide range of subjects. "My mother wanted us to learn about the world by reading books," Hillary recalled. And much of Hillary's childhood was spent doing exactly that. "She took me to the library every week, and I loved working my way through the books in the children's section."
Long before she entered public life, Hillary struggled to reconcile often diametrically opposed values and viewpoints offered by her father and her mother. "I grew up between the push and tug of my parents' values, and my own political beliefs reflect both," Hillary wrote in her autobiography. "My mother was basically a Democrat, although she kept it quiet in Republican Park Ridge. My Dad was a rock-ribbed, up-by-your-bootstraps, conservative Republican and proud of it. He was also tightfisted with money."
In Living History, Hillary connected her father's staunch Republican politics with a disciplined fiscal conservatism, and the link was hardly an accident. As he had shown with his Cadillac purchase, Hugh Rodham believed firmly in the axiom "Cash is king," and he ran his business on a "strict pay-as-you-go policy." Like many who grew up during the Depression, he was driven to work hard by the fear of falling back into the quagmire of poverty. A by-product of his frugal ways was an intense dislike of wastefulness, even if the wasted amounted to no more than a few pennies. "If one of my brothers or I forgot to screw the cap back on the toothpaste tube, my father threw it out the bathroom window," Hillary recalled. "We would have to go outside, even in the snow, to search for it in the evergreen bushes in front of the house. That was his way of reminding us not to waste anything. To this day, I put uneaten olives back in the jar, wrap up the tiniest pieces of cheese and feel guilty when I throw anything away."
Hugh Rodham was "highly opinionated, to put it mildly," Hillary said. "We all accommodated his pronouncements, mostly about Communists, shady businessmen or crooked politicians, the three lowest forms of life in his eyes." Every night at the dinner table, he moderated raucous debates about politics or sports, and by the age of twelve, Hillary had learned to defend her positions on a wide array of issues, though she had also realized that it rarely made sense to directly confront her father. "I also learned," she wrote, "that a person was not necessarily bad just because you did not agree with him, and that if you believed in something, you had better be prepared to defend it."
When she was attending Maine East junior high school, Hillary was influenced profoundly by her first history teacher, Paul Carlson. Carlson, a burly, deeply conservative man, taught a course entitled Hi story of Civilization, a class that came to life in particularly vivid fashion when the subject turned to World War II. The hero of most lessons was General Douglas MacArthur, whose face in a portrait stared down at the ninth-grade students from the front of the classroom.
Carlson's zeal for history left an impression on Hillary, but he would also leave a lasting mark in a decidedly different way. In class one day, Carlson played an audiotape of MacArthur's famous farewell speech before both houses of Congress. After the old general's famous coda, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away," Carlson told his students, "Better to be dead than Red!" A student named Ricky Ricketts, who was seated in alphabetical order directly in front of Hillary, began laughing, and Hillary joined in. Carlson asked them, "What do you think is so funny?"
"Gee, Mr. Carlson," Ricky replied, "I'm only fourteen years old and I'd rather be alive than anything." This reply just made Hillary and Ricky laugh harder, and Carlson became enraged by their disrespectful outburst. Hi s face flushed, he shouted, "Quiet! This is serious business!" But Hillary and Ricky could not contain their laughter and were thrown out of the classroom. It would be the only time in Hillary's life that she was disciplined by one of her teachers.
Although Hillary now insists that her brand of politics was influenced equally by the divergent leanings of her mother and her father, there is no doubt that Hugh Rodham shaped most of his daughter's early political beliefs. As a preteen, Hillary was a spirited and deeply conservative young Republican. In the fall of 1960, when she was in the eighth grade, her father supported Vice President Richard M. Nixon for the presidency, as did Hillary's eighth-grade social studies teacher, Mr. Kenvin. And, of course, Hillary also wanted Nixon to win. The day after the election, Hillary's social studies teacher showed his students the bruises he said he had received when he challenged the Democratic Party's poll watchers at his voting precinct on Election Day. Hillary and her friend Betsy Johnson were infuriated. To Hillary, her teacher's ordeal dramatically supported her father's contention that Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley's "creative vote counting had won the election for President-Elect Kennedy." Hillary and Betsy were so upset about what had happened to Mr. Kenvin that they took a moment during their lunch period to use a pay phone outside the school cafeteria to call Mayor Daley's office to complain.
On the Saturday morning after the election, the determined young women decided to help a Republican group check voter lists against addresses in an attempt to find voter fraud. Both girls participated without getting permission from their parents. Hillary was driven to a poor neighborhood on the South Side, where she went knocking on doors, an act that was "fearless and stupid," she recalled. "I woke up a lot of people who stumbled to the door or yelled at me to go away. And I walked into a bar where men were drinking to ask if certain people on my list actually lived there."
Hillary found clear evidence of voter fraud - a vacant lot that was listed as the address for a dozen alleged voters. She was thrilled with her detective work and could not wait to tell her father that she had discovered that Daley had indeed stolen the election for Kennedy. "Of course, when I returned home and told my father where I had been, he went nuts. It was bad enough to go downtown without an adult, but to go to the South Side alone sent him into a yelling fit," she recalled. "And besides, he said, Kennedy was going to be President whether we liked it or not."
A year after Kennedy's victory, in the fall of 1961, another change in administration would further challenge Hillary's beliefs. A twenty-six-year-old Methodist youth minister named Donald Jones arrived at First Methodist Church in Park Ridge, having completed four years of service in the navy and a degree from Drew University's Divinity School. Jones was a complete departure from three previous youth ministers at the church; he was tall, had a blond crew cut, and drove a 1959 fire-engine red Impala convertible, a "controversial" choice of car, Jones recalled. More than a few young girls had crushes on him. Most notably, every Sunday and Thursday evening, beginning that September, Reverend Jones taught his University of Life program, which included a heavy helping of radical politics, poetry, art history, and countercultural thought. Hi s message was that a Christian life should embody "faith in action," which included trying to help people who were less fortunate. At thirteen, Hillary accompanied Jones's group on a visit to a community center on Chicago's South Side. There, Hillary and her fellow students spent a few hours with a group of innercity children, analyzing the meaning of a painting that they had never seen before, Picasso's Guernica. Jones recalled that "the whole point was to get inner-city kids and suburban kids in a conversation around something that none of them knew anything about." While the suburban kids were largely silent, a young black girl said that the painting made her wonder, "Why did my uncle have to get shot because he parked in the wrong parking place?"
Excerpted from Her Way by Jeff Gerth Don Van Natta Jr. Copyright © 2007 by Back Nine Books LLC. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Jeff Gerth has been a New York Times reporter for more than a quarter century. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 as a member of the Times team that disclosed the corporate sale of American technology to China. Gerth was also the first reporter to break the Whitewater story.
Don Van Natta is an investigative correspondent for the New York Times. He has been a member of three Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, and he is the author of the New York Times bestselling First off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers and Cheaters from Taft to Bush.
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Hillary Rodham Clinton. Love her or hate her it seems everyone has a strong opinion and this book helps explain why. It paints a picture of a classic overachiever with a knack for leaving her mark 'for better or for worse'. What the book does well is objectively analyze Clinton¿s senate career in a way few books have done before. It shows Clinton to be a talented and effective lawmaker if a bit too calculating and opportunistic. On balance it reveals Clinton to be an overly ambitious politician, a charge that, in all fairness, could be leveled at countless other lawmakers. Press reports 'and critique from what the authors call `Hillaryland¿' prepared the reader for a critical portrait but in reality the Hillary Clinton revealed in the book is an accomplished but flawed, fiercely private woman, struggling to excel publicly in a country and world uncomfortable with strong and powerful female figures. As detailed in the book, this hesitancy to fully embrace Clinton isn¿t helped by her less attractive personality traits. What the book doesn¿t do so well is examine fully Clinton¿s childhood and the effect Clinton¿s work as First Lady 'outside of health care' had on her husband¿s presidency. If you want a book singing Clinton¿s praises, or one highlighting her faults, look elsewhere. But if you want a fair study on a complicated figure you could do a lot worse.
'her way' is a very fast reading book and very hard to put down. The arthurs have produced a very remarkable read on the life of senator clinton. This publication documents that hillary is a person who is use to getting her own way and will stop at nothing to cover up for her own mistakes.I really apprieated this book cause it shows alot of this lawmakers voting record and how she is a hypocrite.This bestseller is a 2008 i think this book will be very informative for the voters in 2008 i found alot of things that i didnt know.