President Bill Clinton's My Life is the strikingly candid portrait of a global leader who decided early in life to devote his intellectual and political gifts to serving the public.It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House.President Clinton's audiobook is also the most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written, encompassing not only the high points and crises but the way the presidency actually works.It is the gripping account of a president under concerted and unrelenting assault orchestrated by his enemies on the Far Right and how he survived and prevailed.It is a treasury of moments caught alive, among them:
The roller-coaster ride of the 1992 campaign
The extraordinarily frank exchanges with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole
The cost, both public and private, of the scandal that threatened the presidencyHere is the life of a great national and international figure, revealed with all his talents and contradictions, told openly, directly, in his own signature style.
"My Life is, by a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography, no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States for eight years." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Nobody Else's, that's for sure!
Among the best. A very detailed and exhaustive recounting of the Clinton Presidency in Volume II, unmistakably written in WJC's voice, which is well represented in Michael Beck's reading. Its not an impersonation, but Beck nails the enthusiasm, intelligence and unflagging energy of Mr. Clinton. Doubtless, Mr. Clinton's critics would be off-put by the author's point of view and would tire of his relentless drive. But that is his story, his life, and he brings such passion to the writing about the job he clearly loved, that, more than any Presidential memoir I've read, "My Life" conveys something of what it must be like to be in office. Over the course of 2 volumes, you become familiar with Clinton's methods, his likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and what emerges is a rational account of an irrational period in our history.
The cumulative detail and the sense of the irresistible, unceasing movement of history. There always was another crisis, another budget, another challenge, another trap. Indefatigable, boundless energy and a manic need to engage and connect.
Mr. Clinton attempts to place his conduct, including his misdeeds, in the context of his upbringing and his background and you can feel his restless nature working toward some self-understanding.
As long and as detailed as the book is, I was ultimately carried along to the point the President's last fleeting days in the Whitehouse are poignant and full of meaning. It is remarkable to consider that, for all he had been through, his appetite and enthusiasm was undiminished. There may have been better Presidents but I doubt any of them had loved the job so well as Clinton.I was surprised by the prominence he affords the Starr inquest and the Lewinsky scandal which he weaves throughout the second volume. He acknowledges wrongdoing and weakness and self-indulgence and goes further, recognizing what those things say about his character and the consequences and suffering for those around him. The one figure in the book, the one man met and unrelentingly disliked, is Kenneth Starr, whom the President seems to exempt from his personal efforts to be more forgiving in the name of spiritual growth. Mr. Clinton, acknowledges his tendency toward self-pity and blame-avoidance, and then actually demonstrates those weaknesses by letting them all hang out during some of his diatribes against his persecutors. He is nothing if not smart, and this is no editorial or authorial oversight -- what we hear are the thoughts that fought through the complex, sometimes conflicted web of his mind. He allows his true nature to show through at the bare parts, at some cost to himself, for the good of the book, for the telling of the tale. What emerges is a sense of the simmering pressure cooker of his days and nights. Always, the Starr inquest is bracketed by the Nation's business -- the revelations, the indictments, the depositions and trials occur, not against the background of domestic and foreign crises and triumphs, but in the midst of them, providing some sense of what it must have been like to live in the center of those cross-hairs for those 8 years. And another intended aspect emerges in this way -- the triviality, the hypocrisy and the venality of his most fevered accusers and their utter lack of good faith. Clinton repeatedly and heatedly calls Starr on his conflicts of interest and his questionable tactics and ethics, but he is otherwise circumspect in castigating his attackers.Mr. Clinton devotes a lot of time and effort, commensurate with those same proportions during his time in office, to foreign affairs and his traveling around the globe to meet and deal with the world's leaders in its most troubled spots. He also burnishes his reputation for policy wonkery and budgetary deal-making -- no one ever outlasted this President in a negotiation (although the clock ran out in the Middle East during the waning days of his Administration). He formed personal relationships with many of the world's leaders, using these connections as a means to bridge cultural, political and sometimes military divides. It is not mere self-aggrandizement -- it comes to signify one of the central tenants of his worldview -- that our destinies are as shared as our genetic make-up (he repeatedly cites to scientific evidence that we all share more than 99% of the same, identical DNA). Clinton had a remarkable ability to process highly complex information and to synergize ideas and to formulate understandable arguments and then to foresee how they might be brought into practice. He had the trick of relentlessly reducing abstract concepts into human terms, how to get people to accept those ideas and then how they might impact on everyman's life. He combined raw political skill and instinct with a high level of intelligence, if not judgment or soundness of character. He was not above pettiness, self-indulgence and self-pity but those flaws could not extinguish his energy and passion for the process and the life of a President.