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by Gail Sheehy
ISBN 0345436563 / 9780345436566 / 0-345-43656-3
Publisher Ballantine Books
› Find signed collectible books: 'Hillary's Choice'
Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy's engrossing biography of Hillary Clinton is a refreshing departure from the political hit jobs that have appeared elsewhere in print. That's not to say Hillary's Choice is a pro-Clinton book--Hillary herself would probably bristle at reading it, and her husband ("The story of the Clinton presidency has always been the story of the Clinton marriage," writes Sheehy) comes off as a bright but demented cad. Yet Hillary's Choice is broadly sympathetic and often nonjudgmental at crucial moments. Sheehy writes very little about public policy, but includes plenty of pop psychologizing. She suggests that the president is a sex addict afflicted by what "a highly qualified mental health professional who works too close to the White House to be identified" calls "dissociative identities"--what used to be known as "multiple personalities ... a sum of various identities that have been split off at some time in the past." And the president gets away with so much in his personal life because Hillary has become his unwitting enabler: "Every addict or alcoholic needs one. The enabler is usually an intimate of the addicted person who allows him to persist in self-destructive behavior by making excuses or helping him avoid the consequences of his actions."
That describes Sheehy's Hillary perfectly: a woman apparently ignorant of her husband's several flings in the White House before Monica Lewinsky came along, and then willfully deceived by the president's lies until just hours before his momentous grand-jury testimony. Theirs is a mother-son relationship in which true love must negotiate its way through astonishingly difficult periods. That's not a formula for how marriage ought to work, but it has nevertheless helped this ultimate power couple achieve enormous success. Hillary's Choice is full of on-the-record and background interviews, all assembled in an absorbing narrative. Writes Sheehy: "The saga of Bill and Hillary, with its echoes of Eleanor and Franklin, or Tracy and Hepburn with undertones of Bonnie and Clyde, is animated by melodrama, high passion, narrow escapes, and knock-down-drag-outs." And it comes alive in this biography of the most enigmatic woman of our time. --John J. Miller [via]