4.0 out of 5 stars Smart and giving, too.
A real page turner. My wife and I both found his stories wonderfully revealing and truly touching, as if we watched a Oprah-Bill mini-series (Roots: The Man from Hope). His vast intellect and global view are amazing -- and to think I considered applying for a Rhodes scholarship -- I couldn't have competed with guys like him, so I guess I'm glad I didn't waste my time...
Published on Jun 25 2004 by joe maziek
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A feast for lovers of minutua
Long reads are great -- IF the subject matter can keep you riveted. This one is just not a great read. I found my mind wandering most of the time and finally decided I was never going to get through it. Better off going to the library, pick up a copy, sit down for about 30 minutes to go to the "juicy" pages to quench your curiosity, then put it back on the shelf for...
Published on July 18 2004 by Jaye Joyce
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A feast for lovers of minutua,
1.0 out of 5 stars self-indulgent, petulant tripe,
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart and giving, too.,
My only complaint, actually it's my wife's complaint, and a relatively minor one at that, is that the book is kind of heavy, and it added to our struggle, toting it plus the cooler, the chairs, the umbrella, and the 3 different SPF levels of suntan lotion, along with the aloe vera and both our cell phones to our favorite beach spot. My wife complains because I've got my laptop under an arm, and 'My Life' kind of started an argument which sort of left a stain on otherwise what was a beautiful week at the beach.
Looking back a week now since I read 'My Life', my most memorable passage is that President Clinton slept on the couch during that tense period with Mrs. Clinton. It was thoughtful and giving for the president to not have asked one of the regular occupants of the Lincoln Bedroom to find another place to go.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the greatest President-Comes the greatest Memoir,
By A Customer
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Friends and Fans of Bill and Historians,
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)In the acknowledgments, former president Clinton thanks his editor, Robert Gottlieb, for helping him make the book half as long and twice as good. That man should get five stars! This book is way too long in its current form and not good enough.
Unless you are a friend or a big fan of Mr. Clinton, you will find this book not worth the effort. Fully half is devoted to descriptions of daily events during his two presidential terms. Almost all of the events you will probably remember from living through those years. Although these events were needed for completeness, there was little added that was new. I found the background descriptions of assisting the negotiations between Israel, Syria, and the Palestinians to be the most interesting part of the presidential section.
The best part of the book comes in the period before his first election in Arkansas. How did a young man from a very troubled home end up on the fast track for early political success? Although you will not be able to totally answer that question from reading this book, you will certainly know a lot more than you did before you started. I was especially impressed by the incredible loyalty that he showed to his stepfather, despite the awful treatment that his mother received. I did not realize that Mr. Clinton had only legally adopted the last name of Clinton after his mother remarried his stepfather.
I would have enjoyed a section about how young people can learn from his early experiences. Perhaps he will write something like that in a future book.
If you are looking for lots of insights into his personal inclination to cause pain in his marriage through affairs, you won't find anything new. You will find out the day when his wife stopped making him sleep on the sofa in the White House.
Although the book is mostly a diary of what he did and when, there are occasional moments of reflection in the book that make reading it rewarding. Unfortunately, the new reflections only occur about every 50 pages or so. Most of the best reflections are in the first half of the book.
The main ingredient that is missing from the book is the tremendous personal appeal that Mr. Clinton excites in many people. That element of his success is largely hidden in this account. He has a genuine liking for others, a sense of commitment to helping them and an incredible stamina for taking on challenges. It would have been good to combine this book with a CD of reminiscences about peoples' reactions to him at very critical times.
You also don't get much of a sense of his high intelligence, encyclopedic memory, and grasp of complex situations. I have heard Mr. Clinton go on for hours about difficult policy questions without notes and without knowing what questions would be asked. In fact, he tends to downplay those skills.
The material about his presidency would have been greatly enhanced with advice for future presidents.
The end of the book has an almost whiny tone in complaining about Right Wing conspiracies and recalcitrant Republicans in Congress. That part could have been edited down further. You'll get the idea after the first few pages of this discussion.
Frankly, I would not have finished the book except that many of my friends are in the book, and I found myself looking forward to their appearances in the text and what would be said about them.
For most people, you can read the first half and skip the rest.
If you really want to know about certain parts of his life and want to skip the others, the index can give you a pathway to create your own condensed books version of his life.
If you did not find him to be a person who inspired you, I suggest that you skip the book.
Seek to do the best for all!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look, folks this is a BIOGRAPHY, not a confessional!,
By A Customer
This huge book, which meticulously covers his ENTIRE life thus far, obviously would not include lengthy lurid details over his affairs, okay? Why should it? He was president of the U.S., not Hugh Hefner!! He accomplished a great many things over his 8-year administration, and it is unfortunate that the one-sided media (and power-crazed Republicans) chose only to harp on his missteps (which were microscopic compared to Bush's blunders). Clinton naturally would take pains to highlight the accomplishments he made (wasn't the 90s a good decade for America?), which invariably gotlittle press coverage or was obfuscated by the carping of his enemies.
It starts with his childhood and family background in Arkansas, then to his college years in Georgetown and Oxford, and onto his life in Arkansan politics as govenor, and finally his presidency. A lot of the non-presidential stuff was actually interesting as much of it was unfamiliar to me and shows how his road to the most important office in the land seemed to amazingly begin when he was a very young man. It was also interesting to get an inside glimpse of his relationships with other world leaders, his daughter, and what it's like to have a job as President.
At times, the book does get bogged down in minutae - for me that is, as when he provides countless names of people in his administration, but I'm not a political scientist, journalist, etc. However, this doesn't detract from the overall point of this book which is a fascinateing, revealing, and worthwhile recounting of a man's life. If you want a bizarre confirmation of right-wing dogma by Clinton, you're OF COURSE not going to get it. Instead, do a search for O'Reilly or Ann Coulter or something. If you want a good bio of arguably the most charismatic president since Kennedy, this book is definitely worth the $$.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great but worth it,
2.0 out of 5 stars Charisma Doesn't Come Thru,
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)Clinton was a good President and leader because of his incredible charisma. It doesn't come thru in this book at all. He's also not much of a writer or at least the ghostwriter he used (if he used one), isn't. (Maybe Clinton went cheap on who he used because he was saving his money for possible legal issues.) I like Clinton alot, just not this book. I agree that he should talk more about his mistakes. In fact, that's part of what makes him charismatic when he speaks; he talks about making mistakes, he seems real, not someone trying to present himself as all-knowing, like Bush. Maybe Bush wrote this book. It seems like he could have.
2.0 out of 5 stars Long on facts, short on grasp,
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)It seems that in an effort not to leave anyone out, the ever political Bill Clinton, a man whose life is anything but a boring litany of fact missed an excellent opportunity to tell a compelling story. his editor was obviously afraid to send Bill back to the drawing board. It's too much fact, and not enough emotion. Too much of a recitation of factual events, but at the end I don't feel as if I know anything about the major players that I can't read in dozens of places. Besides access to himself Bill Clinon has had unfettered access to some of the greatest and most intriguing people of the 20th century, and in his zeal to sort out the facts for his legacy, he failed to give me what I really wanted to see.... the personalities of the people with whom he had contact, and indeed his own personality. One such example is his telling of his opinions of Boris Yeltsin. He was quick to point out that his friend had kept copious shorthand notes of exactly what was said between the two men during thier 18 meetings, and yet, those things that were not threats to national security were not revealed in story form. I would have gotten a better sense of Boris and Bill through an extended example of dialogue typical to the two leaders than a long narrative. While I undestand non-fiction cannot read exactly like fiction, there is a reason fiction sell so well. It's because fiction grasps the emptions of the reader and takes them for a ride. Bill Clinton missed the mark because while I am a Bill fan, his book failed to grasp me.
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from the inside,
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)I must confess I am a fan of political autobiographies. The first one I ever read was the Nixon autobiography; I've since read the various presidential and prime ministerial works past and present. Against these various tomes, Bill Clinton's memoirs, 'My Life', stacks up well. There is nothing earth-shattering and revealing here; there are some different nuances and a little more candour involved, but not a lot. After all, Clinton is still a relatively young man, and could have other political aspirations (he wouldn't be the first president to also serve in the Congress after the presidency), and of course, his wife has an active political life of her own, which I am certain was a major consideration in the tone and content of this volume.
I was fortunate to get advance reading material of this before the day of release, and got the local bookseller to permit me a purchase after midnight last night. Of course, like many people, I turned first to the part about Monica Lewinsky, who, for better or worse, will be a defining image of Clinton's presidency for the foreseeable future - history will likely be kinder to Clinton (as it ended up being for Nixon, and others who have stumbled in office), but for the present, this image holds true. There is a typical Clinton-esque mixture of self-reproach and blaming of others. Clinton's greatest ire is saved for Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor, who Clinton characterises as being the tip of the spear of a vast right-wing conspiracy including conservative white southerners who never worked for civil rights.
He discusses the icy situation with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea after the revelations, and how he slept on the sofa in different rooms for a significant period after the revelations. He also writes of his own self-examination and self-therapy (how does one do therapy with a president? Actually, there is some insight here, with his marriage counseling going on for a year after the incident). From visits with preachers (Clinton was never a traditionally religious man) to his own readings of self-help books and spiritual classics (one such, 'Imitation of Christ', by Thomas a Kempis, is a superb and well-known text, but not one I would have ever guessed useful for a president in this situation).
He gives some insights into the campaign trails, his early Arkansas experiences prior to national politics, and the two presidential elections, the first against the elder Bush, and the second against Bob Dole. He also takes good account of his childhood - the stories of his mother and various male figures in his early life are quite interesting, and beyond what was public during his presidential days. Even the derivation of his name - William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, has a story behind it worth reading.
One of the key points of interest of any political autobiography is the commentary and speculation the author makes on present and future situations, and Clinton's is no exception. He mentions his own assessment of the danger Iraq posed (he would have rated it no higher than number six on his list of priorities), and claims to have been more forceful in warning the incoming Bush administration about the dangers of Osama Bin Ladin. He also gives interesting perspectives on allies and other foreign leaders (John Major and Tony Blair, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Yasir Arafat, Ehud Barak, etc.).
In all, Clinton takes some of the blame for the troubles of his presidency, but shifts quite a bit of it to others, too. He also takes credit where credit is due for some of the successes in his presidency, but on the whole, as is typically true in such writings, casts the best of possible lights on most of his actions and the outcomes. Being an extrovert with a penchant for introspection, it is a wonder that this book could be contained in a mere 1000 or so pages.
Love him or hate him (and it is amazing how few people have neutral feelings about him, as he experienced and wrote about in his book), Clinton is a figure politicians must deal with for some time to come, and historians will likely rarely tire of debating and analysing.
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My Life by Bill Clinton (Paperback - May 31 2005)
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