Hard Choices

  • by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Narrated by Kathleen Chalfant, Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • 26 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hillary Rodham Clinton's inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America's 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future.
In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, she expected to return to representing New York in the United States Senate. To her surprise, her former rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is the story of the four extraordinary and historic years that followed, and the hard choices that she and her colleagues confronted.
Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. They faced a rising competitor in China, growing threats from Iran and North Korea, and revolutions across the Middle East. Along the way, they grappled with some of the toughest dilemmas of US foreign policy, especially the decision to send Americans into harm's way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Drawing on conversations with numerous leaders and experts, Secretary Clinton offers her views on what it will take for the United States to compete and thrive in an interdependent world. She makes a passionate case for human rights and the full participation in society of women, youth, and LGBT people. An astute eyewitness to decades of social change, she distinguishes the trendlines from the headlines and describes the progress occurring throughout the world, day after day.
Secretary Clinton's descriptions of diplomatic conversations at the highest levels offer listeners a master class in international relations, as does her analysis of how we can best use "smart power" to deliver security and prosperity in a rapidly changing world - one in which America remains the indispensable nation.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Senior Stateswoman in need of Editor

I have often wondered what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was thinking on May 1, 2011 when that famous photo of her, with her hand over her mouth, was taken in the White House Situation Room as she waited for the results of Operation Neptune Spear. I read/listen to just about everything I can get my hands on about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, like Mark Owens and Kevin Maurer's "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden" (2012) and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates "Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (2014). I would have listened to HRC's "Hard Choices" (2014) just for her perspective on that mission, but this book has so much more.

HRC sets forth comprehensive US foreign policy, starting with her husband, Bill (William Jefferson) Clinton, president from 1993 to 2001; George H. Bush, 2001 to 2009; to Barack Obama, 2009 to the present. HRC has been a first hand observer or participant in international politics for more than 20 years, as First Lady; then as a Senator from New York; and then as Secretary of State.

The book is so current, it talks about Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea. HRC's position on Russia is hawkish, and Vladimir Putin should count himself fortunate she isn't president right now. I'm not an up-and-coming or current world leader, or rebel general working on being a dictator, but if I were - and wanted to know where I, or my country stood with the current most-likely-next-president of the United States, I'd find out in "Hard Choices".

If I wanted to know about her husband's infamous dalliance more than 20 years ago, I guess I could read "The National Enquirer" - but I wouldn't waste my I time reading about it and HRC doesn't waste my time writing about it. I would rather know her position on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, Syria's use of chemical weapons, or what might work in patching up international relationships badly damaged by leaks of candid assessments of world leaders in State Department cables. "Hard Choices" talks about those issues, not about whether staying with her husband was a difficult decision.

HRC has a unique view of countries and their leaders. Some nations - for example, China and India - have national feelings and attributes (inferiority and insecurity) that she does not confuse with the beliefs or actions of their leaders. Other very small nations - such as Qatar, with a population about 20% of that of Los Angeles County - are so closely aligned with their leaders, they can't be distinguished. HRC's ability to separate the nutcase in charge from the population as a whole has been key in the Obama administration's arguable successes in various Arab countries.

Which brings me to the editor part: "Hard Choices" is 657 pages in print and 27 hours on Audible. Even with 'a long commute' it took me a while to finish the listen, because, well, I got a mired in the details, and sometimes, I got bored. I had the same problem with Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005). I could have used a Playbill, a world map, and a timeline for both books.

HRC has a great voice, and I would have been happier with her doing the entire narration. She did the introduction, and there's an Easter egg: there's a 15 minute epilogue in her own voice. Kathleen Chalfant is fine, but it's not the same.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Will she run?

In the book Hillary Clinton tells about her time as Secretary of State. I had read “The Secretary” by Kim Ghattas and “HRC” by Jonathan Allan and Amie Parnes which covered the same topic. The interesting part of the book for me was her side comments such as her discussion about William Seward; I read his biography last year. He also was a senator from New York who lost his Presidential nomination and the faithfully served Lincoln, the man who beat him, as Secretary of State. She frequently quotes Eleanor Roosevelt which I found delightfully as I am a big fan of Eleanor Roosevelt. The meeting to discuss increasing troops to Afghanistan was also described in detail in the book “Duty” by Robert Gates. Hillary covers in great depth her philosophy of “Smart Power.” She opens her tour as Secretary of State by travelling to Asia. She tells why she thought it was important to emphasize Asia, the problems facing the area, in fact, she goes area by area throughout the book describing each areas problems, what has been done, needs to be done to overcome the problems. She covers Burma, China and Pakistan in depth. A picture of Hillary does come through as a person who is an optimist and very persistent. It appears she keeps going, by building on the small victories so they outweigh the defeats. She goes about breaking things down. She is a disaggregator, who can’t see problems without trying to make it smaller, more manageable, and then she tries to fit the pieces back together again. Between the stories of diplomacy are scattered personal stories about her mother, her life as a college student, meeting and marrying Bill Clinton, her daughter and how much she is looking forward to being a grandmother. The book is cautiously written and free of politically charged rhetoric and appears to be factually correct. The only comments she made about two politically charged issues was on Iraq, she apologized. She said “I got it wrong” and she learned from the mistake. On the deaths of State Department people killed in Benghazi Libya she said she is responsible because she was Secretary of State. Hillary mostly has good thing to say about people including George W. Bush. She quotes a maxim from China’s Deng Xiaoping: “Coolly observe, calmly deal with things, hold your position, hide your capacities, bide your time, accomplish things where possible.” The book was narrated by Kathleen Chalfont and Hillary Clinton.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-10-2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio