My Life

My Life

by Bill Clinton

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

$7.99 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, March 22

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400096732
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 6.81(h) x 1.21(d)

About the Author

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, 42nd President of the United States, is founder of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Date of Birth:

August 19, 1946

Place of Birth:

Hope, Arkansas

Education:

Georgetown University; Oxford University; Yale University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

PROLOGUE

When I was a young man just out of law school and eager to get on with my life, on a whim I briefly put aside my reading preference for fiction and history and bought one of those how-to books: How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, by Alan Lakein. The book’s main point was the necessity of listing short-, medium-, and long-term life goals, then categorizing them in order of their importance, with the A group being the most important, the B group next, and the C the last, then listing under each goal specific activities designed to achieve them. I still have that paperback book, now almost thirty years old. And I’m sure I have that old list somewhere buried in my papers, though I can’t find it. However, I do remember the A list. I wanted to be a good man, have a good marriage and children, have good friends, make a successful political life, and write a great book.

Whether I’m a good man is, of course, for God to judge. I know that I am not as good as my strongest supporters believe or as I hope to become, nor as bad as my harshest critics assert. I have been graced beyond measure by my family life with Hillary and Chelsea. Like all families’ lives, ours is not perfect, but it has been wonderful. Its flaws, as all the world knows, are mostly mine, and its continuing promise is grounded in their love. No person I know ever had more or better friends. Indeed, a strong case can be made that I rose to the presidency on the shoulders of my personal friends, the now legendary FOBs.

My life in politics was a joy. I loved campaigns and I loved governing. I always tried to keep things moving in the right direction, to give more people a chance to live their dreams, to lift people’s spirits, and to bring them together. That’s the way I kept score.

As for the great book, who knows? It sure is a good story.

ONE

On Sunday, January 17, 1993 Al and Tipper Gore, Hillary, and I began inaugural week with a tour of Monticello, followed by a discussion of Thomas Jefferson’s importance to America with young people.

After the event, we boarded our bus for the 120-mile trip to Washington. The bus symbolized our commitment to giving the federal government back to the people. Besides, we cherished the fond memories it held, and we wanted one last ride. We stopped for a brief church service in the pretty Shenandoah Valley town of Culpeper, then made our way to Washington. Just as in the campaign, there were well-wishers, and a few critics, along the way.

By the time we got to the capital, the public events of our inaugural, entitled “An American Reunion: New Beginnings, Renewed Hope,” were already under way. My good friend Harry Thomason, advisor Rahm Emanuel, and Mel French, a friend from Arkansas who would become chief of protocol in my second term, had organized an extraordinary series of events, with as many as possible free of charge or within the price range of the working people who had elected me. On Sunday and Monday, the Mall between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument was filled by an outdoor festival featuring food, music, and crafts. That night we had a “Call for Reunion” concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with a star-studded lineup including Diana Ross and Bob Dylan, who thrilled the crowd of 200,000 that filled the space from the stage all the way back to the Washington Monument. Standing beneath Lincoln’s statue, I gave a short speech appealing for national unity, saying that Lincoln “gave new life to Jefferson’s dream that we are all created free and equal.”

After the concert, the Gores and my family led a procession of thousands of people carrying flashlights across the Potomac River on Memorial Bridge to the Lady Bird Johnson Circle just outside Arlington National Cemetery. At

6 p.m., we rang a replica of the Liberty Bell, to start “Bells of Hope” ringing all across America and even aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Then there was a fireworks display followed by several receptions. By the time we got back to Blair House, the official guest residence just across the street from the White House, we were tired but exhilarated, and before falling asleep I took some time to review the latest draft of my inaugural address.

I still wasn’t satisfied with it. Compared with my campaign speeches, it seemed stilted. I knew it had to be more dignified, but I didn’t want it to drag. I did like one passage, built around the idea that our new beginning had “forced the spring” to come to America on this cold winter day. It was the brainchild of my friend Father Tim Healy, former president of Georgetown University. Tim had died suddenly of a heart attack while walking through Newark airport a few weeks after the election. When friends went to his apartment, they found in his typewriter the beginning of a letter to me that included suggested language for the inaugural speech. His phrase “force the spring” struck all of us, and I wanted to use it in his memory.

Monday, January 18, was the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. In the morning I held a reception for the diplomatic representatives of other nations in the inner quadrangle at Georgetown, addressing them from the steps of Old North Building. It was the same spot on which George Washington stood in 1797 and the great French general and Revolutionary War hero Lafayette spoke in 1824. I told the ambassadors that my foreign policy would be built on three pillars—economic security at home, restructuring the armed forces to meet the new challenges of the post–Cold War world, and support for democratic values across the globe. The day before, President Bush had ordered an air strike on a suspected weapons-production site in Iraq, and on this day, U.S. planes hit Saddam Hussein’s air-defense positions. I supported the effort to bring Saddam into full compliance with UN resolutions and asked the diplomats to emphasize that to their governments. After the diplomatic event, I spoke to Georgetown students and alumni, including many of my old classmates, urging them to support my national service initiative.

From Georgetown, we drove to Howard University for a ceremony honoring Dr. King, then to a luncheon at the beautiful Folger Library for more than fifty people Al, Tipper, Hillary, and I met during the campaign who had made a strong impression on us. We called them “Faces of Hope,” because of their courage in the face of adversity or their innovative ways of dealing with contemporary challenges. We wanted to thank these people for inspiring us, and to remind everyone, amidst the glamour of the inaugural week, that a lot of Americans were still having a hard time.

The Faces of Hope included two former members of rival gangs in Los Angeles who joined forces after the riots to give kids a better future; two of the Vietnam veterans who had sent me their medals; a school principal who had created a violence-free magnet school in Chicago’s highest-crime neighborhood, with students who regularly scored above state and national learning levels; a Texas judge who had created an innovative program for troubled kids; a young Arizona boy who had made me more aware of the family pressures caused by the extra hours his father had

to work; a Native American doctor from Montana who worked to improve mental-health services to her people; men who had lost their jobs to low-wage foreign competition; people struggling with costly health problems the government didn’t help with; a young entrepreneur scrapping for venture capital; people who ran community centers for broken families; a policeman’s widow whose husband was killed by a mental patient who bought a handgun without a background check; an eighteen-year-old financial wizard who was already working on Wall Street; a woman who had started a large recycling program at her plant; and many others. Michael Morrison, the young man who drove his wheelchair down an icy New Hampshire highway to work for me, was there. So was Dimitrios Theofanis, the Greek immigrant from New York who had asked me to make his boy free.

All of the Faces of Hope had taught me something about the pain and promise of America in 1992, but none more than Louise and Clifford Ray, whose three sons were hemophiliacs who had contracted the HIV virus through transfusions of tainted blood. They also had a daughter who was not infected. Frightened people in their small Florida community pushed to have the Ray boys removed from school, fearing that their children could be infected if one of them started bleeding and the blood got on them. The Rays filed a lawsuit to keep the kids in class and settled it out of court, then decided to move to Sarasota, a larger city where the school officials welcomed them. The oldest son, Ricky, was obviously very ill and fighting to hang on to his life. After the election, I called Ricky in the hospital to encourage him and invite him to the inauguration. He was looking forward to coming, but he didn’t make it; at fifteen, he lost his fight, just five weeks before I became President. I was so glad that the Rays came to the luncheon anyway. When I took office, they championed the cause of hemophiliacs with AIDS, and successfully lobbied Congress for the passage of the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund. But it took eight long years, and their grief still wasn’t over. In October 2000, three months before the end of my presidency, the Rays’ second son, Robert, died of AIDS at twenty-two. If only anti-retroviral therapy had been available a few years earlier. Now that it is, I spend a lot of time trying to get the medicine to many of the Ricky Rays across the world. I want them to be Faces of Hope, too.

On Tuesday morning, Hillary and I started the day with a visit to the graves of John and Robert Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. Accompanied by John Kennedy Jr., Ethel Kennedy, several of her children, and Senator Ted Kennedy, I knelt at the eternal flame and said a short prayer, thanking God for their lives and service and asking for wisdom and strength in the great adventures just ahead. At noon, I hosted a lunch for my fellow governors at the Library of Congress, thanking them for all I had learned from them in the past twelve years. After an afternoon event at the Kennedy Center highlighting America’s children, we drove out to the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland, for the Gala Concert, where Barbra Streisand, Wynton Marsalis, k.d. lang, rock legends Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Jack Nicholson, Bill Cosby, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and other artists kept us entertained for hours. Fleetwood Mac brought the crowd to its feet with our campaign theme song, “Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow.”

After the concert, there was a late-night prayer service at the First Baptist Church, and it was after midnight when I got back to Blair House. Though it was getting better, I still wasn’t satisfied with the inaugural address. My speechwriters, Michael Waldman and David Kusnet, must have been tearing their hair out, because as we practiced between one and four in the morning on inauguration day, I was still changing it. Bruce Lindsey, Paul Begala, Bruce Reed, George Stephanopoulos, Michael Sheehan, and my wordsmith friends Tommy Caplan and Taylor Branch stayed up with me. So did Al Gore. The terrific staff at Blair House was used to taking care of foreign heads of state who kept all kinds of hours, so they were ready with gallons of coffee to keep us awake and snacks to keep us in a reasonably good humor. By the time I went to bed for a couple of hours’ sleep, I was feeling better about the speech.

Wednesday morning dawned cold and clear. I began the day with an early-morning security briefing, then I received instructions on how my military aide would handle the launching of our nuclear weapons. The President has five military aides, one outstanding young officer from each service branch; one of them is near him at all times.

Though a nuclear exchange seemed unthinkable with the Cold War over, assuming the control of our arsenal was a sober reminder of the responsibilities just a few hours away. There’s a difference between knowing about the presidency and actually being President. It’s hard to describe in words, but I left Blair House with my eagerness tempered by humility.

The last activity before the inauguration was a prayer service at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was important to me. With input from Hillary and Al Gore, I had picked the participating clergy, the singers, and the music. Hillary’s family and mine were there. Mother was beaming. Roger was grinning, and enjoying the music. Both our pastors from home participated in the service, as did Al and Tipper’s ministers, and George Stephanopoulos’s father, the Greek Orthodox dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York. Father Otto Hentz, who, almost thirty years earlier, had asked me to consider becoming a Jesuit, said a prayer. Rabbi Gene Levy from Little Rock and Imam Wallace D. Mohammad spoke. Several black clergymen who were friends of mine participated, with Dr. Gardner Taylor, one of America’s greatest preachers of any race or denomination, giving the principal address. My Pentecostal friends from Arkansas and Louisiana sang, along with Phil Driscoll, a fabulous singer and trumpeter Al knew from Tennessee, and Carolyn Staley sang “Be Not Afraid,” one of my favorite hymns and a good lesson for the day. Tears welled up in my eyes several times during the service, and I left it uplifted and ready for the hours ahead.

We went back to Blair House to look at the speech for the last time. It had gotten a lot better since 4 a.m. At ten, Hillary, Chelsea, and I walked across the street to the White House, where we were met on the front steps by President and Mrs. Bush, who took us inside for coffee with the Gores and the Quayles. Ron and Alma Brown were also there. I wanted Ron to share a moment he had done so much to make possible. I was struck by how well President and Mrs. Bush dealt with a painful situation and a sad parting—it was obvious that they had become close to several members of the staff and would miss and be missed by them. At about 10:45, we all got into limousines. Following tradition, President Bush and I rode together, with Speaker Foley and Wendell Ford, the gravelly-voiced senator from Kentucky who was co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and who had worked hard for the narrow victory that Al and I had won in his state.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

My Life 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 146 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved review January 11, 2006 exactly how I feel about that president of ours! What a fraud he is!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect when I first began to listen to this book. At the end I realized just how much I didn't know and wished I had about President Clinton. His life is proof that you can make of your life whatever you wish. He shows that making mistakes, even for someone in the public eye, doesn't make you unforgivable - it makes us human.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read! He is human.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can't put this book down
tylermaire More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful read. The book is a little long but well worth it. It will give you a good idea why he believes in the polices that he does or a glance into his and Hillary's personal life. The part of this book that stood out to me, that shows why he believes in the polices that he does is the story of his grandfathers grocery store. His grandfather would black out the receipts of the customers who couldn't pay because his grandfather believed that if you're trying to feed your family and can't afford to, you need a break. Bill went on to say this is why he believed in food stamps. But what I think is the crux of the book is when he was elected to governor. A man who was on PCP had gotten a railroad tie and knocked down the door to the governors mansion. It took 3 very large secret service members to seduce the crazed man. I love this book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. There were a few parts of the book weren't that well written. A good chunk of the book is filler. They are very bland and boring parts that are just there to fill the book. There are parts of the book that are just back and forth between him and someone he knows. This I a very well written and interesting book that gives a glimpse into this political and private life. If you liked this book you would also like the book written by his wife Hillary Clinton or our current president Barack Obama's book.
Nondas_Bellos More than 1 year ago
My Life by Bill Clinton (957 pages) is immensely enjoyable - it would have been a great read even if it wasn't written by a former President of the United States. Besides the glimpses it offers into the Presidency and Mr Clinton's private life, it offers a guide for success: Start early, stay committed, rise above yourself and your circumstances, and persevere. The book is lucid, well written, and instructive. Mr Clinton, for example, discusses some of the people and lists several of the books that have been influential in his life, including Red Star Over China (Edgar Snow) and You Can't Go Home Again (Thomas Wolfe). He also serves to remind us that life consists of both successes and failures. For the former President, a balanced federal budget is a particularly relevant success story given the current climate of economic uncertainty, while the failure to broker successful negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians continues to breed instability and human suffering. My Life is a gold mine of political ideas and personal lessons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
former president bill clinton tells a true american story. he reveals a side of himself that was closed off to the public his entire eight years in office. he tells his story with enthusiasm and his own unforgetable charm. he leaves nothing unsaid in his journey coming from a middle class family in hope, arkansas to being presidant of the united states.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bill is very protective of his real self. He lives and breathes politics. There are several nostalgic stories in the book as one who has lived during this time I can relate to. Too much detail about political events. Most of the book is about his political experiences, not his personal life. Not the real Bill Clinton. As a result, very boring in many places. Lists of names and dates and events. I am still not finished with the book. I do not like not finishing a book but I will have to force myself to pick this one up again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It¿s History told with meaningless and mind-numbing details. It¿s Biography viewed from a self absorbed perspective. After reading the tome, I am reminded that there is only one tragedy in life----wasted talent. Nothing contained in this book is likely to change history¿s verdict of his eight years in office. Most economists will continue to view Clinton as the fortunate beneficiary of the technology revolution. His political success was achieved by passing Republican agenda items like NAFTA and Welfare Reform. He has nothing to compare with LBJ¿s Civil Rights and Great Society reforms; FDR¿s New Deal and Victory over Fascism, or Truman¿s Marshall Plan and the creations of modern American internationalism. So, left with nothing meaningful to explain, Clinton writes about himself. If that is of interest to you, then expect a lengthy but easy read. Unfortunately, Clinton remains for me a first class intellect but a third rate President.
loyolanaveenyonnex 12 days ago
bill clinton is a fraud, murderer and predator. how did he become president? the money is from a gold loot by john Reed ( a rogue who became CEO of bankrupt citicorp around 1987) who funneled a loot of $20 billion from manila through prince Alwahed of saudi. this prince is now jailed and all his ill gotten wealth seized by king salman. That is why when this fake Prince gave donation after Wtc 911 the mayor refused. He knows his about John reed dirty money. Same money Obama. his Cabinet/admin all decided by prince i.e. Wallstreet. Las veags shooting also about assassination attempt on king. that explains how bill clinton a cocaine guy oxford drop out for sex crimes has become President/governor. He should be jailed immediately. I have been saying this for years.
LauraBogart on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It is a real treat to hear this audiobook presentation of Bill Clinton's autobiography: he, as always, is an excellent speaker and draws you into the store as he portrays it in his own voice. This very much is worth the time and money.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This was a looong book (and it's only the first half of the original publication!) I mostly enjoyed it - Clinton has lead a remarkable life and is a good story teller to boot. Every once in a while he would get bogged down in the specifics of budgets or some other dry subject area - but overall it was very enjoyable and I learned some history too!
bibliophile007 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Really comprehensive book. About a billion pages long.
WillowOne on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The biography of William Jefferson Clinton our 42nd President of the United States is a very fact full book. If you ever wanted to know anything about Bill Clinton it is probably chronicled somewhere in this book. Although interesting and insight gaining you must wade through, sometimes, too much information. It doesn't always flow and you can get bogged down by the day to day flow of information. This is truly a book that is all encompassing of his life from childhood through manhood, schooling, parental shaping, family, dating, marriage, values, politics, mistakes, love, adultery, fatherhood and so much more. A hard read in my opinion but, insightful.
red.yardbird on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I liked it, but it was way to long and way to much "i did this, then i did that..."
briansf on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is an interesting review of his life and his personal struggles. I particularly like the personal stories of his political battles while he was President and the inside stories during that time. It is an eye opener of how and why things happen the way they do in Washington, D.C.
labelleaurore on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A very slow read... not my kind of book. It could have been done with more passion and love.
Pferdina on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I really enjoyed this autobiography. I learned a lot about Bill Clinton's presidency and all the things that were going on in the world during those eight years. My favorite parts of the book were the stories of his growing up in Arkansas and the things he did while in school. The book weighs a ton, and it is 957 pages long, but I did not get tired of it at all.
ktsbentley on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A very long book that is well worth reading. This is a remarkable account of not only Bill Clinton's history, but of the history of the United States during that time. It was fascinating to read this book after reading Hillary Clinton's biography. There is something fascinating about reading about the same event from two different perspectives. I have a great deal of respect for Bill Clinton's presidency, and now I have even more respect for his life in general and for the commitments that Bill and Hillary have made together.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Yayyy! I finally finished this book! It's huge and full of detail. It'sgood but in some places (the excruciating detail of the various peace talksfor example) I found my eyes crossing and had to lay it down for a while.I have to say that one of three things must be true of Bill Clinton. Eithera) he kept copious journals from about the age of 2 year onward, b) he has aphotographic memory, or c) he was making this up as he went along. Heincluded the most minute details of his formative years, every campaign heever ran, nearly every hand he ever shook. But for all that, he left outdetails of certain episodes we all know took place in the Oval Office with acertain intern. Actually, he did refer to that and even devoted abouthalf a chapter to it, but even with all his words, he didn't really tell usanything we didn't already know in lurid detail from the Starr report thatwent to Congress and got posted on the Internet. The insights he did giveinto the whys and wherefores of the Starr investigation into the mostprivate details of his (and many others as well) life were interesting.I enjoyed this book because it gave me another point of view for a lot ofthings and explained the odd relationship between Clinton and NewtGingrinch, Clinton's love for his family and his home state of Arkansas, alittle behind the scenes explanations for some of the mistakes Gore made inthe 2000 campaign and a myriad of other things. If you enjoy biographiesand politics, you'll enjoy this book. Clinton has a very friendly writingstyle and tells the stories of his life well. I do think, though, that hewould have benefited from some editing. There were a lot of details thatseemed to drag on and on forever. So it is for that reason that I will givethe book a 4, though it should have been a 5 with better editing.
Tipton_Renwick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Close to 1000 pages of Bill Clinton explaining to the American people how great he is and what a great presidency he had. I thought it focused too much on his early years. Die-hard Clintonistas might like it. Politics buffs should read the second half to get an insider's acocunt on how Washington, in its most vitriolic form, works. For anyone else, this is a good book to skim and just read the interesting bits.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bill Clinton's life and presidency in his own words. A passionate telling of his life. A truly dynamic individual.
Replay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who's the little boy who wrote this book? Oh...the former president of the USA. Curiosity.
pbirch01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can wholeheartedly agree with the other reviews that this is a slow book. However, that does not mean that it should not be read. This book took me several months to finish and I had to repeatedly renew it from the library. Clinton's attention to detail is impressive which is one reason why it can take such a long time to finish this book. He seems to mention almost everyone he knows including the guy who cut his hair when he was twelve. His literary style can often be described as rambling as he jumps around occasionally and has varying syntax. Although this may be frustrating from a literary standpoint, it also gives us an insight into the mind of a great politician as it allows us to see how he relates to the world around him. It also gives a unique and candid view of some famous world leaders some of us know only from the news. His optimism throughout his personal and public struggles are best seen in his somewhat rambling writing style.
mramos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'My Life' is a long and detailed autobiography of William Jefferson Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States of America. Though this book is very long, approximately one thousand pages, it was entertaining enough to read the whole thing. It is obvious that he kept a detailed diary his whole life. Pres. Clinton's book is not the normal biography. It is written in chronological order starting with his boyhood. Though as you read it you will find yourself jumping all over time. He does this whenever he feels he has to defend his actions. And I felt the whole book is about trying to defend his legacy and set the record straight. The book seems very self-serving and he seems more concerned about what we think of him, instead of just writing what transpired. Though I did find his book very easy to read. I did feel as if he I was sitting on a covered front porch with a class of ice tea and listening as Pres. Clinton spins an interesting tale. I had no problem reading the entire book and did find it enjoyable despite his agenda. He does share some of his shortcomings and how he overcame them. This is also a story of a boy making good in America. He comes from rural state and used every opportunity America offers each and every one of us. And that message is worth sharing. Do not pick up this book looking for dark details of his life. You will not find it. But I did learn much about how he saw himself and his view on affairs that affected or touched his life. I do recommend reading this book.