Hard Choices

S. & S. 2014. 656p. photos. index. ISBN 9781476751443. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781476751450. POL SCI
Although readers will not find the answer to whether Clinton will run for president in 2016 in this wonkish memoir of her tenure (2009–13) as President Obama's first secretary of state, they will come to appreciate her observation that "in diplomacy there is less room for humor." The levity and homespun stories of family, found in abundance in Clinton's previous memoir Living History, are mostly lacking here. Instead, readers will find a sometimes gripping but at times dry recounting of the many foreign-policy challenges that roiled America in the wake of the George W. Bush administration. Clinton's practice of the art of statecraft is vividly described in chapters about such hot spots as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia (the portrayal of neo-Cold War president Vladimir Putin is arguably her best depiction of any international figure), the 2010 Arab Spring uprising, and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Rambling discussions on China, Latin America, and some specific issues such as climate change, energy, and jobs could have been trimmed.
VERDICT Overall, Clinton's appraisal will appeal mostly to informed readers of current history and politics who will likely approach it with the same tenacity that Clinton demonstrated as secretary of state. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]

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