The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power
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THE FIRST INSIDE ACCOUNT TO BE PUBLISHED ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON'S TIME AS SECRETARY OF STATE, ANCHORED BY GHATTAS'S OWN PERSPECTIVE AND HER QUEST TO UNDERSTAND AMERICA'S PLACE IN THE WORLD.
In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. As President Barack Obama's secretary of state, she set out to repair America's image around the world―and her own. For the following four years, BBC foreign correspondent Kim Ghattas had unparalleled access to Clinton and her entourage, and she weaves a fast-paced, gripping account of life on the road with Clinton in The Secretary.
With the perspective of one who is both an insider and an outsider, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and players in Washington as well as overseas, to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians. Filled with fresh insights, The Secretary provides a captivating analysis of Clinton's brand of diplomacy and the Obama administration's efforts to redefine American power in the twenty-first century.
Populated with a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Clinton's transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America's envoy to the world in compelling detail and with all the tension of high stakes diplomacy. From her evolving relationship with President Obama to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Clinton cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 a.m. after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya―all the while trying to restore American leadership in a rapidly changing world.
Viewed through Ghattas's vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, The Secretary is also the author's own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, who or what will replace it and what will it mean for America and the world?
some people argued that since Arab leaders used the plot excuse anyway, whether America spoke out or not, Washington might just as well throw its weight behind the protestors. But with a war still ongoing in Libya, Obama didn’t want to say anything that could lead to demands for another intervention: you said he has to go, now take him out. The U.S. presidential election was also already a consideration. For outsiders, it seemed simple to call for a leader to step down; once those words are
sightseeing, a moment of peace before the most anticipated meeting of the trip. At seven in the evening, a tattered white sedan drove up to the residence of the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Rangoon, a colonial-style house of understated, hushed elegance with a portico, teak floors, and a patio. A frail-looking ethereal woman sprang out of her seat as soon as the car door was opened for her and darted up one step to the house’s threshold for a meeting she had been looking forward to for weeks. They
were really building a civilian state. Though Pakistan complained that this was interference in its internal affairs, the government still took the money. The contradictions were giving America a headache, and though the relationship was a drain and a nuisance, no one dared contemplate the risk of letting go of Pakistan again. * * * Flying across the Atlantic, Hillary was in her cabin being briefed by the top man in charge of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, Richard Holbrooke, a longtime
in solitary confinement in the Lahore Fort, but it had strengthened his resolve to fight against the darkness of dictatorship rule. Now, he was fighting religious extremism. Taseer’s wife, Aamna, was a bit nervous about hosting the former First Lady. She had attended Hillary’s speech at a women’s college in Lahore in 1995 but had only seen her from afar. She seemed immediately at ease when Hillary addressed her by her first name. An odd thought crossed Aamna’s mind: “She’s a real human being.”
manager asked Hillary to autograph her book Living History and then asked for a picture, handing her digital camera to a colleague behind the till. The two women smiled. The camera switched itself off. The manager grabbed it and fiddled with it. Hillary smiled. The camera was working again. The cashier tried to snap a picture. The screen went dark. The manager fiddled some more, determined to get her picture. “Why don’t I sign the book while you do that,” Hillary said, smiling. Finally, the