BOOKS

Four pages of re­views

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - FRONT PAGE - Re­viewed by Roger Cur­rie Roger Cur­rie is a Win­nipeg writer and broad­caster. He is heard reg­u­larly on CJNU, 93.7 FM.

HIL­LARY Clin­ton’s re­cent book­selling visit to Canada in­cluded brief stops in Toronto and Ed­mon­ton, but not Win­nipeg. For­mer Man­i­toba pre­mier Gary Doer had to present his cre­den­tials to her in 2009 when she was U.S. sec­re­tary of state and he was be­gin­ning his du­ties as Canada’s am­bas­sador to Wash­ing­ton. Doer isn’t men­tioned in this 600-page doorstop­per of a book, but he shouldn’t feel slighted. De­spite the fact that Canada is Amer­ica’s largest trad­ing part­ner, Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper earns less than a para­graph’s men­tion in Hard Choices — for his 2007 dec­la­ra­tion about Canada’s need to pro­tect our Arc­tic sovereignty. Mem­oirs such as this are some­times ea­gerly read for candid de­scrip­tions about other nota­bles the au­thor has en­coun­tered, es­pe­cially when they are world lead­ers. But since her ca­reer on the world stage is by no means done, Clin­ton of­fers lit­tle of that in Hard Choices. At the end of the book — and in all the in­ter­views she has done on her book tour — the for­mer first lady in­sists that she hasn’t yet de­cided if she will run for pres­i­dent in 2016. Just about ev­ery­one else is clearly mak­ing that as­sump­tion, and opin­ion polls in the U.S. have her as the clear fron­trun­ner for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion two years from now. It’s by no means the first time a fu­ture can­di­date for pres­i­dent has writ­ten a book be­fore hit­ting the cam­paign trail. Barack Obama, who de­feated Hil­lary Clin­ton for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion in 2008, wrote The Au­dac­ity of Hope be­fore his run for the White House. While Obama had very lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic of­fice, Clin­ton can re­flect on her record as sec­re­tary of state in a very tur­bu­lent time on the world stage. Af­ter years in the White House with hus­band (and then-pres­i­dent) Bill Clin­ton, fol­lowed by a turn in the Se­nate rep­re­sent­ing New York State, Clin­ton is not eas­ily sur­prised. She ad­mits, how­ever, she was “floored” when Obama asked her to serve in his ad­min­is­tra­tion as the boss of Amer­ica’s for­eign pol­icy. She man­aged to put aside the bit­ter­ness of the 2008 Demo­cratic cam­paign and work hard on be­half of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. There was, of course, some ma­jor bag­gage Clin­ton had to deal with in writ­ing the mem­oir. As a se­na­tor, she voted to sup­port pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush when he or­dered the in­va­sion of Iraq in 2003. The Obama camp used it against her with great ef­fec­tive­ness in 2008. Stay­ing in that trou­bled part of the world, she de­votes 33 pages to the cri­sis in Libya in Septem­ber 2012, in­clud­ing the killing of U.S. am­bas­sador Chris Stevens in Beng­hazi. Ev­ery word in that sec­tion ap­pears to be care­fully laun­dered and lawyered, as that story continues to un­fold. The book is largely de­void of crit­i­cism of any­one who might cause Clin­ton trou­ble down the road if she were to be­come the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States. She has many harsh words for Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, but also in­cludes a dra­matic per­sonal story that Putin shared with her about his mother, who was nearly given up for dead when she was wounded in the Ger­man siege of Len­ingrad dur­ing the Sec­ond World War (Putin was born in 1952, seven years af­ter the war ended). The Rus­sian leader told Clin­ton the story at the Asia-Pa­cific Sum­mit in Siberia in 2012, and she says he spoke very good English when­ever they met. When she left the state depart­ment in early 2013 — John Kerry took over as U.S. sec­re­tary of state — Clin­ton wrote a lengthy re­port to Pres­i­dent Obama about the coun­try’s re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia. She urged Obama to be cau­tious in deal­ing with Putin, and to de­cline his in­vi­ta­tion for a high-level meet­ing in Moscow. All of this makes in­ter­est­ing read­ing in light of Putin’s more re­cent ac­tions in Ukraine, and Obama’s cor­re­spond­ing un­will­ing­ness to re­spond with mil­i­tary force. Both of the Clin­tons have re­lied heav­ily on writ­ing and pub­lic speak­ing to sus­tain them in re­cent years, and they’ve done very well at it. Hil­lary is be­lieved to have re­ceived a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar ad­vance from Si­mon and Schus­ter for Hard Choices, and early sales are said to be slow. As 2016 draws closer and the au­thor be­comes the can­di­date, she will have a con­ve­nient way to an­swer a wide range of ques­tions about U.S. for­eign pol­icy. She can sim­ply say, “It’s in the book.”

OLIVIER DOULIERY / MCT

Clin­ton (at a book-sign­ing in Ar­ling­ton, Va.) in­sists that she hasn’t yet de­cided if she will run for pres­i­dent in 2016.

OLIVIER DOULIERY / MCT

Clin­ton’s book tour looks a lot like a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.

Hard Choices

By Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton Si­mon and Schus­ter, 600 pages,

$40

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