"Hard Choices" by Hillary Clinton

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: Putting all politics aside, this is a very difficult work to slog through. The tone is less conversational memoir and more over-eager college application essay. The wording is clunky and manufactured, and weak superlatives ("every possible step" and the like) pepper the entire text. Clinton depicts a world in which things just sort-of-happen to an American Secretary of State. She portrays herself as a hapless and impotent passerby to important events. A silly sense of listlessness permeates the book -- a listlessness that sounds nothing like the intelligent, driven, focused character we know Secretary Clinton to possess. Her text obsesses over trivial details like the formalities of Middle Eastern handshakes and her errors when packing for travel. It fawns over celebrities like Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela, as though the Secretary of State is the nation's autograph-hound-in-chief. It belabors points like the communication facilities installed in her home. And yet after all that fluff, Secretary Clinton glosses over the issue of terrorism as "a serious issue of our time". A more lifeless way couldn't be found to describe that issue -- one anybody else would call a "virus" or a "scourge". But that's not the point of the book. "Hard Choices" says nothing of real value about truly hard choices. It's just a loose collection of wide-eyed reminisces.

Verdict: This "memoir" is little more than a trivial collection of name-dropping and exaggerated moments of purported surprise at meaningless occurrences; an utter disappointment.