Bill and Hillary

The Politics of the Personal
Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal. Farrar. Sept. 2012. c.400p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780809094653. $28. BIOG
For better or worse, the Clinton presidency was a partnership that followed a recurring ebb and flow of Bill and Hillary soaring as a team and then plummeting because of the president's philandering. Chafe (Alice and Mary Baldwin Professor of History, Duke Univ.; The Rise and Fall of the American Century from 1890 to 2008) delves into Bill's and Hillary's childhoods, their courtship as Yale Law School students, and Bill's terms as Arkansas governor, describing how their chosen lives contributed to a rocky marriage/partnership in which Hillary would tolerate Bill's affairs and provide much-needed political organization in return for having an important policymaking voice in Arkansas and later in the White House. Chafe skillfully synthesizes biographies such as Carl Bernstein's A Woman in Charge and David Maraniss's First in His Class to show how the Clintons' problems surfaced when their partnership became unbalanced: a contrite Bill Clinton seeking Hillary's forgiveness would cede too much power to her, with such unfortunate results as "Travelgate," the health-care debacle, and arguments over releasing records for the Whitewater investigation.
VERDICT General readers and political junkies will enjoy this reasoned account that concludes with Hillary fulfilling her own political promise as a highly regarded U.S. senator and then secretary of state. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/12.]
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