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Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2015, 535 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

August 23, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former First Lady of the United States, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, has written an insightful and finely calibrated work; Hard Choices. This book, or memoir, takes us inside national and international politics from the perspective of someone who has actually lived and breathed it for the majority of her life, making her eminently qualified to speak on subjects such as climate change or nuclear proliferation. Being the author of several bestselling books, including her memoir Living History, and her groundbreaking work on children, It Takes a Village, Clinton demonstrates her compassion and humanity in this book.

I actually had the opportunity to review this book and meet the author a year ago, when Clinton had a book signing and press event at Warwick’s Booksellers in La Jolla, California, which required me to go through secret service screening, but at the last minute I decided against it due to my having to travel approximately 200 miles from the Los Angeles area to the event in the early morning hours.

Hard Choices frames the overall story in Clinton’s “Author’s Notes”, as she states: “All of us face hard choices in our lives. Some face more than their share. We have to decide how to balance the demands of work and family. Caring for a sick child or an aging parent. Figuring out how to pay for college. Finding a good job, and what to do if you lose it. Whether to get married – or stay married. How to give our kids the opportunities they dream about and deserve. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. For leaders and nations, they can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.”

If it is true that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, the 100 photos that Clinton includes in her book speaks volumes. One that stands out is her with President Obama and his national security team as they watch the Osama bin Laden raid on May 1, 2011. This is riveting! Another, is that of Chris Stevens being sworn in by Clinton as the new U.S. Ambassador to Libya in the State Department’s Treaty Room on May 14, 2012, which we are still feeling the effects of due to Stevens’ subsequent death in the Benghazi raid.

Perhaps most telling in this book that looks into the soul of the author, is her transition from fierce campaigner against now President Barack Obama, to his Secretary of State. Clinton speaks candidly in her book about how she resisted a number of overtures by President Obama at her being his choice for Secretary of State, and after a lot of soul searching and conferring with a number of trusted confidants, including her husband and former President Bill Clinton, she was made to realize that it was a logical choice for her. She chronicles in Hard Choices some major decisions she had to make with the Obama administration, such as her husband Bill having to give up holding overseas versions of the innovative philanthropy conference he had started, the Clinton Global Initiative, to avoid any perceived conflict. She states: “This was like a rerun of the final season of The West Wing; there, too, the new President-elect offers his defeated opponent the job of Secretary of State. In the TV version, the rival turns down the job at first, but the President-elect refuses to take no for an answer.” This is exactly how things played out for Clinton and Obama, and the country seems to be the better for it.

Clinton speaks of her first diplomatic mission as Secretary of State, her travels to Asia and engaging with Vietnam and other countries on a proposed new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while ideally raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property though the TPP has generated controversy and protests from some labor and environmental groups. The author states in her book: “As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish ‘a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement’ that ‘is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up until this point, have been locked out of those markets.’” Although Clinton was not around as Secretary of State to see the TPP come into fruition, clearly she helped pave the way, and this statement in her book is prophetic: “It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect – no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be – but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers.”

A subsequent and very significant journey for Clinton involving Asia, concerns Burma and the celebrated Burmese dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi.  The author indicated in her book that Suu Kyi carried the hopes of a nation on her shoulders, and exhibited the qualities she had glimpsed before in other former political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel. Decades of military dictatorship and economic mismanagement turned the country of Myanmar (Burma) into a poverty-stricken pariah, with Burma ranking among the world’s worst abusers of human rights, resulting in many years of imprisonment and house arrest for Suu Kyi. Clinton’s diplomacy while Secretary of State would change all of that. Clinton visiting Suu Kyi and Burma, Suu Kyi’s subsequent visit to the White House and President Obama, set the stage for democracy in her country. Clinton noted in her book that both President Obama and Suu Kyi were recipients of the Nobel Peace prize, and that while her husband Bill was President, he bestowed upon Suu Kyi America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The author gives a candid and poetic assessment of Burma, in particular the Irrawaddy River, through the words of George Orwell: “glittering like diamonds in the patches that caught the sun.” She reveals a side of her that perhaps many would be surprised by.

Clinton speaks warmly of her mother in this book, which speaks volumes. She indicates in Hard Choices that her mother overcame a difficult childhood with very little love or support, without going into specifics, and yet still figured out how to be a loving and caring mom to her and her brothers, Hugh and Tony. She took particular pride in her mother being there to see and experience the wedding of her daughter, Chelsea. This clearly is the softer side of Clinton. She speaks with such undeniable depth in this book, which makes for a rich and compelling read.

Jake Sullivan, who is referenenced numerous times and throughout Hard Choices, a former policy director and deputy chief of staff under Clinton at the State Department, arrived early Friday (9/4/2015) for what is expected to be a daylong session of testimony behind closed doors before the Select Committee on Benghazi. This should put in perspective this book.

With occasional humorous asides, like describing an offer by our nemesis Vladimar V. Putin, the Russian leader, to take Bill Clinton along on a polar-bear tagging expedition, this makes for interesting and engaging reading. With Clinton now running for President of the United States, Hard Choices could very well be an advance preview of the first female President, and surely to inspire other women such as my 22-year old daughter Brandy to think and believe that they can achieve whatever their hearts and minds desire.

Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

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"Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote"

Michelle Alexander, the author of "The New Jim Crow", whom I also wrote a review of in the East County Magazine, questions in an article written by her in "The Nation" magazine as to if Hillary Clinton genuinely deserves the black vote, and gives many reasons and instances why she may not.

Hillary's choices

I have not had the opportunity to read the book as of yet; however, I definitely plan to do so. Hard choices definitely describes her book, but I think that the public will be in tune, listening for the hard answers to their questions. I am sure that she will be prepared for the debates ahead, as she will be challenged on every decision that she has made, and will make moving forward. I think transparency is sought by anxious readers, who would like to know all sides of Hillary. I am anxious to read as well, and get to know her, in her own words; as I make decisions about the next president that will lead our country. Great review Dennis! Cortina Jackson Author of "On Earth As It Is In Hell" www.cortinajackson.com


Republican presidential rivals rushed Friday to condemn Donald Trump's support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States, drawing a sharp distinction with the Republican font-runner on a proposal also deemed unconstitutional by legal experts, according to an Associated Press story by Julie Pace and Jill Colvin in the Lancaster Antelope Valley Press.


Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton slammed Trump during a rally in Nashville Friday evening. "Mr. Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, he's attacked women, and now he's attacking Muslim Americans," she said. "At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?"

Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I think that I will enjoy reading this book from a historical standpoint. I was comforted to know that Ms. Clinton took on the role as Secretary of State after much conferring with friends and confidants. I truly believe that she did an excellent job in that role and represented the country well. Mr. Moore provided us with a few pictures from the book and the one that stands out to me is the one where we have seen several times on television, and that is the successful raid and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. That picture captures the anxiety as well as the "what if this goes wrong" feeling of the faces in the room. I personally like the small narrative about her mother. Once again, Mr. Moore has done an excellent review, I get the impression that this book is a good read, and I intend to read it soon. Jacqueline Carr - Author of "A Selected Few Just For You"


Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a hardline warning to Iran on Wednesday (today) that as president she would "not hesitate" to take military action to stop the country from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to an AP story.

Hillary Clinton Runs for President Puts You on National Scene

Dennis, glad to see you reviewing a book and author of this caliber, whether you agree with her politics or not. This is about you being respected as a book reviewer that your opinion matters. Great Job...go get those New York Times best selling authors. Your reviews are always thought provoking and insightful. Congratulations. Dorothy Bracy Alston, Author...Speaker, Writer, Publisher, Consultant CISBA Associates


Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday her use of a private email system at the State Department wasn't the "best choice" and acknowledge she didn't "stop and think" about her email set-up when she became President Barack Obama's secretary of state in 2009, according to an AP story by Ken Thomas.

The Democratic presidential front-runner said in an interview with NBC News that she immediately confronted by a number of global hotspots after joining the new Obama administration as its top diplomat and didn't think much about her email after arriving at her new job.

Bill Clinton did not apologize for her decision when asked directly, "Are you sorry?" Instead, she again said she wishes she had "made a different choie" and that she takes responsibility for the decision to use a private email account and server based at her home in suburban New York.

Hillary further added: "They may disagree, as I now disagree, with the choice I made. But the facts that I have put forth have remained the same."


A congressional inquiry into the deadly 2012 attacks in Libya focused Friday on a member of Hillary Rodham Clinton's inner circle as a nasty public fight erupted between a Republican aide and a Democratic lawmaker who called for the panel to disband, according to an AP story today by Jesse Holland.

Jake Sullivan, who is referenced numerous times and throughout "Hard Choices", a former policy director and deputy chief of staff under Clinton at the State Department, arrived early Friday for what is expected to be a daylong session behind closed doors before the Select Committee on Benghazi.



sanity is out the window

hillary has not done anything for anybody. cattle futures, kicked off the watergate committee for unethical behavior , the murder and then cover up of 4 Americans in Benghazi, the illegal war in lybia, the e mail servers and the lies about that, the private detectives to ruin political opponents, the non stop lies and smears concerning others. she is not "smart" or even a decent human being.

Hard Choices

I have yet to read this, but I plan to. I have been a Hilary fan for a long time, but lately, I'm not so sure about her. She's smart enough to be [resident, but is she dishonest enough to do harm?

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Hillary makes my "harm list"

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I support Hillary Clinton. So should everyone who voted for me.

This declaration by Bernie Sanders further states: "THE CONVENTIONS ARE OVER and the general election has officially begun. In the primaries, I received 1,846 pledged delegates, 46% of the total. Hillary Clinton received 2,205 pledged delegates, 54%. She received 602 superdelegates. I received 48 superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her. Donald Trump would be a disaster and an emnarrassment for our country if he were elected president. His campaign is not based on anything of substance - improving the economy, our education system, healthcare or the environment. It is based on bigotry. He is attempting to win this election by fomenting hatred against Mexicans and Muslims. He has crudely insulted women. And as a leader of the 'birther movement,' he tried to undermine the legitimacy of our first African American president. That is not just my point of view. That's the perspective of a number of conservative Republicans. In these difficult times, we need a president who will bring our nation together, not someone who lacks an understanding of what our Constitution is about. On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton's positions are far superior to Trump's. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump's campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents."

Trump uses crude terms about Clinton

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Hillary as Secretary of State made the hard choice

on whether to do something meaningful, or to set a record for flight miles traveled, and she chose the latter. ..... The author states in her book: “As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish ‘a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement’ that ‘is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies ”.....yes, that's correct, incredibly powerful for American companies which under TPP would have the freedom to violate labor standards and pollution standards to their hearts' content, if they had hearts....Don't let the door hit ya, Hill.