Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady

Overview

For most first ladies, their years in the White House are their sole claim to fame. For one—Hillary Rodham Clinton—that tenure was just another step in a remarkable political career. Neither a "hit job" nor a facile tribute, Gil Troy's lively and refreshingly nonsensational new book provides a revealing look at arguably the most polarizing first lady in history and undoubtedly the most prominent American woman of our time.

Troy, named by History News Network as one of America's ...

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Overview

For most first ladies, their years in the White House are their sole claim to fame. For one—Hillary Rodham Clinton—that tenure was just another step in a remarkable political career. Neither a "hit job" nor a facile tribute, Gil Troy's lively and refreshingly nonsensational new book provides a revealing look at arguably the most polarizing first lady in history and undoubtedly the most prominent American woman of our time.

Troy, named by History News Network as one of America's Top 15 Young Historians, measures Clinton's historical footprint, tracing her activities during the turbulent decade that brought her to national prominence and examining her influence as a key player in her husband's administration. Covering her attempts to overhaul health care and redefine the first lady as co-president while she tried to cope with her husband's scandals and impeachment, he recounts how Hillary's rocky road had a mixed impact on the office, even as her ambitions illuminated the role's potential.

As the first feminist first lady, Hillary Clinton faced dilemmas typical of modern American women as she tried to be both a family-oriented, devoted wife and a career-focused, independent woman. Troy shows how she did her best to navigate this divide and breaks new ground in taking her seriously as a thinker. Delving into Hillary's speeches and writings, he uncovers a surprisingly more moderate, even conservative worldview. In fact, he finds some of her positions—such as her outspoken views on abortion—to be authentic expressions of a genuine Puritan/Methodist centrism rather than a mere political ploy.

Offering a mix of praise and censure that elevates to a moresophisticated level debates about her controversial career and presidential aspirations, Troy's book will enlighten and intrigue Hillary's passionate critics and staunch defenders alike. It will renew discussions of where she stands in the continuum of modern first ladies—and of where history will ultimately take her. Many of the book's key themes are effectively underscored by an entertainingly narrated photo essay, with provocative images drawn from the Clinton Presidential Library.

This book is part of the Modern First Ladies series.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
The complex individual shines through Troy's eloquent rendering. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly
Troy's careful but unenlightening account comes as the sixth in a Modern First Ladies series and, as such, aims to measure Hillary Clinton's "historical footprint" as a president's wife. But Troy, a history professor (Mr. and Mrs. President), retreads a well-known arc of the nine years beginning with the start of the Clinton presidential campaign in 1992 and concluding with their handover to the Bushes in 2001. From Bill Clinton's "two for one" 1992 campaign slogan indicating their "unique partnership," to the health care debate, Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1998-1999, Troy analyzes the career of the "feminist first lady." (He does not consider her five years in office as senator from New York). His conclusion: the office of the first lady is a throwback, and "women who want real power... need to learn the democratic lesson that Hillary Clinton ultimately learned: better to earn power via election than assume it via marriage." Given Troy's emphasis on Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, his decision not to interview any of the key players and his reliance on previously published books and articles, the reader never gets a sense of Hillary beyond what's already very familiar. 24 photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Booklist

An engrossing look at the behind-the-scenes 'psychodrama' of the Clinton White House.

Choice

The complex individual shines through Troy's eloquent rendering. Highly recommended.

Library Journal

One of the few balanced studies of Clinton. Worth keeping in mind as the campaigns heat up.

Library Journal
Troy (history, McGill Univ.; Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s) is no polemicist; instead, he presents a balanced attempt to understand Hillary Clinton's role when she was First Lady. The work succeeds in explaining the elements of her upbringing and personality that made her work for progressive causes yet led her into political crises that prevented her from achieving her goals. Roy enables us to understand and respect her strengths and idealism while also wincing at her arrogance and suffering her humiliations. He shows us her personal complexities and her relation to major American political movements, particularly Puritanism, progressivism, and feminism. He concludes that Hillary Clinton never clearly understood the constraints that limit the First Lady and undermined the vision of a joint presidency that she and Bill shared. Yet he suggests that she may be more effective as a political figure in her own right. Aimed particularly at the general reader, this book is solidly researched, well written, and engaging enough to be important for both public and academic libraries.-Elizabeth R. Hayford, emeritus, Associated Colls. of the Midwest, Chicago Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700614882
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Series: Modern First Ladies Ser.
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,141,434
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gil Troy, a native of Queens, New York, and professor of history at McGill University, is the author of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons; Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s; and See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate. His commentaries on presidential politics have also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, among other prominent publications.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition     ix
Editor's Foreword     xxv
Prologue and Acknowledgments     xxvii
Introduction: Gossamer Shackles: The Feminist First Lady's Dilemmas     1
From Park Ridge to Little Rock, from "Goldwater Girl" to "Billary"     11
The 1992 Campaign: "I'm Not Some Little Woman"     37
Copresident: "It's Eleanor Roosevelt Time"     62
Backlash: Harry and Louise Versus Hillary and Bill     113
A Strategic Retreat?     136
Mrs. Clinton, Mr. President, and Ms. Lewinsky     167
Conclusion: Senator Hillary: "Compelling Public Figure" or "Degraded Wife"?     194
Notes     215
Bibliographic Essay     237
Index     245
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