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The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Powerby Kim Ghattas
Synopses & Reviews
The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, anchored by Ghattas's own perspective and her quest to understand America's place in the world.
In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. As President Barack Obama's secretary of state, she set out to repair Americas image around the world — and her own. For the following four years, BBC foreign correspondent Kim Ghattas had unparalleled access to Clinton and her entourage, and she weaves a fast-paced, gripping account of life on the road with Clinton in The Secretary.
With the perspective of one who is both an insider and an outsider, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and players in Washington as well as overseas, to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians. Filled with fresh insights, The Secretary provides a captivating analysis of Clinton's brand of diplomacy and the Obama administrations efforts to redefine American power in the twenty-first century.
Populated with a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Clinton's transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America's envoy to the world in compelling detail and with all the tension of high stakes diplomacy. From her evolving relationship with President Obama to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Clinton cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 a.m. after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya — all the while trying to restore American leadership in a rapidly changing world.
Viewed through Ghattas's vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, The Secretary is also the authors own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, who or what will replace it and what will it mean for America and the world?
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton becomes the face of a superpower in this captivating profile. Ghattas, State Department correspondent for the BBC, jetted around the globe with Clinton as she refereed Israeli-Palestinian quarrels, wrangled with Chinese officialdom, smoothed ruffled diplomatic feathers after Wikileaks publicized catty American cables, and strategized over the Arab Spring upheavals. In Ghattas's vivid portrait, Clinton emerges as a charismatic, tireless woman, magnetic during her trademark town hall meetings with ordinary citizens (cries of 'We love you, Hillary' trail her everywhere), candid and forthright in private conversation, but always agonizing over anodyne public statements that will be obsessively parsed for policy shifts. But as the author floats along in Clinton's exciting, exhausting bubble of pre-eminence, she also examines America's ongoing centrality in world affairs: while they resent American power, in every country people she encounters expect the United States to magically settle their crises and conflicts. Attuned to that mindset since her childhood in war-torn Lebanon, Ghattas receives in her travels with Clinton an eye-opening education in the complexity and limitations of U.S. foreign policy making. Her perceptive reportage on Clinton's personal leadership grounds a shrewd analysis of America's role as the still-indispensable nation. 8-page b&w photo insert. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A terrific book....Our first intimate portrait of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and a riveting personal story....Compelling....A page-turner.” Joe Klein, Time columnist
“Reading The Secretary is as close as anyone can get to flying around the world with Hillary Clinton over the past four years. Kim Ghattas has captured many colorful details not only about people and places but also about the urgency, exhaustion, and turn-on-a-dime responses necessary to stay one step ahead of the world. She gives us an up-close-and-personal look at the exercise of American power.” Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor, Princeton University, and former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State
“Poignant and gripping....The story of two women from different generations and cultures, yet bound by a common passion, one that transcends geographical and political boundaries, reminding us not just of our differences but of our shared humanity. In all her roles, Hillary Clinton has always been motivated by a desire to change the world but has also been prepared to be changed by it. In her exchanges with Clinton, Ghattas is also prepared to change and be changed, and through her attempts to know Clinton she also comes to better know herself, turning this book into a powerful journey of discovery and self-discovery.” Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
“An unusually intimate look at a historic secretary of state....An unexpected page-turner.” Celia McGee, O, The Oprah Magazine
“[An] engaging look at U.S. diplomacy under Hillary Clinton...Ghattas presents a close-up look at the touchiest of diplomatic issues in the first Obama administration, from the Arab Spring uprisings to WikiLeaks...a rich portrait of the different perspectives on U.S. power and influence around the world as well as her own personal experiences and ambivalence about the U.S.” Booklist (starred review)
The Secretary is the first book of its kind: drawing on extensive interviews with administration officials, including Clinton herself, as well as other players around Washington and overseas, it provides a detailed look at an intensely private woman — arguably the most powerful woman in the world — from a journalist and author with both an insider and a global perspective.
The Secretary tells the story of Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, from the first days of the Obama administration, to the drama of Wikileaks, to the "Arab Spring" uprisings, and the standoff with Iran. Through Ghattas' eyes, we see Clinton under the intense professional spotlight commanded by the world's chief diplomat, but also in the softer lighting of the more personal nuances of foreign relations — cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 AM after no sleep, committing a diplomatic blunder when she goes off-script at a press conference in Jerusalem, or cajoling foreign ministers to keep the coalition together during the war in Libya.
Viewed through Ghattas' vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanon civil war — and her personal quest to understand America's place in a rapidly changing global landscape — the book offers a close-up of diplomacy at the highest level while seeking to answer pivotal questions about the United States. Is America still the global superpower? If not, who or what will replace it, and what will it mean for America and the world?
About the Author
Kim Ghattas has been the BBC's State Department Radio and TV correspondent since 2008, and travels regularly with the Secretary of State. She was previously a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut. Ghattas was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. Her work has also appeared in TIME magazine, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and on NPR radio. She lives in Washington, DC.
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