Hard ChoicesHard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Published by Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publicist

From the publisher:

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.

“All of us face hard choices in our lives,” Hillary Rodham Clinton writes at the start of this personal chronicle of years at the center of world events. “Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become.”

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.

By the end of her tenure, Secretary Clinton had visited 112 countries, traveled nearly one million miles, and gained a truly global perspective on many of the major trends reshaping the landscape of the twenty-first century, from economic inequality to climate change to revolutions in energy, communications, and health. 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 readers 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.

I don’t read a ton of political memoirs, but this one really appealed to me because I’ve always admired Hillary Clinton, for a variety of reasons. This isn’t a place where I discuss politics at all, so I’ll just say that in general, I get where she’s coming from and share many of her beliefs, so I was very interested to learn more about her politics, what she stands for, and the experiences she’d had over her four years as Secretary of State. The fact that she’s obviously considering a presidential run in 2016 certainly didn’t hurt either.

Hard Choices is not an easy read, not by a long shot. Clinton dives deep into her years as Secretary of State and really gets into the politics, risks, and consequences involved in many of the conflicts that arose and decisions that were made throughout those years. That being said, it’s not a difficult read either. Everything is put together in a really accessible way, helping even the most politically naive of us understand the who, what, where, when, and how of many international crises. I learned a TON from this book as a lot of what’s discussed are the things that go on behind the scenes – the situations that America (and the world) never get to hear about as these conflicts are taking place.

I listened to the audio of this book and it was very well done. Kathleen Chalfant was a new voice to me and she did a pretty good job. The only thing that I didn’t love was that Clinton herself narrates the first chapter – making the switch to Chalfant very awkward for my brain to comprehend. Once I got into the audio, though, I was good with Chalfant’s narration.

I found this book exceptionally interesting and got a lot out of it. I think even those who disagree with Clinton’s politics would find something to chew on in this book. So much of it is about international relations and very little of it has to do with her actual beliefs – it’s really just a peek into those four years she spent as Secretary of State, what that actually looked like and what happened in the world throughout that time. Really fascinating stuff.

Highly recommended! Even if you don’t like her.😉