My Life by Bill Clinton

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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, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work, to serving the public.

It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who, through his own enormous energies and efforts, made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House—a journey fueled by an impassioned interest in the political process which manifested itself at every stage of his life: in college, working as an intern for Senator William Fulbright; at Oxford, becoming part of the Vietnam War protest movement; at Yale Law School, campaigning on the grassroots level for Democratic candidates; back in Arkansas, running for Congress, attorney general, and governor.

We see his career shaped by his resolute determination to improve the life of his fellow citizens, an unfaltering commitment to civil rights, and an exceptional understanding of the practicalities of political life.

We come to understand the emotional pressures of his youth—born after his father’s death; caught in the dysfunctional relationship between his feisty, nurturing mother and his abusive stepfather, whom he never ceased to love and whose name he took; drawn to the brilliant, compelling Hillary Rodham, whom he was determined to marry; passionately devoted, from her infancy, to their daughter, Chelsea, and to the entire experience of fatherhood; slowly and painfully beginning to comprehend how his early denial of pain led him at times into damaging patterns of behavior.

President Clinton’s book is also the fullest, 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: the day-to-day bombardment of problems, personalities, conflicts, setbacks, achievements.

It is a testament to the positive impact on America and on the world of his work and his ideals.

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 ten-year-old boy watching the national political conventions on his family’s new (and first) television set.

• The young candidate looking for votes in the Arkansas hills and the local seer who tells him, “Anybody who would campaign at a beer joint in Joiner at midnight on Saturday night deserves to carry one box. . . . You’ll win here. But it’ll be the only damn place you win in this county.” (He was right on both counts.)

• The roller-coaster ride of the 1992 campaign.

• The extraordinarily frank exchanges with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole.

• The delicate manipulation needed to convince Rabin and Arafat to shake hands for the camera while keeping Arafat from kissing Rabin.

• The cost, both public and private, of the scandal that threatened the presidency.

Here is the life of a great national and international figure, revealed with all his talents and contradictions, told openly, directly, in his own completely recognizable voice. A unique book by a unique American.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Bill Clinton

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William Jefferson Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. Under his leadership, the country enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in United States history. President Clinton’s core values of building community, creating opportunity, and demanding responsibility resulted in unprecedented progress for America, including moving the nation from record deficits to record surpluses; the creation of over 22 million jobs—more than any other administration; low levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime; and the highest home ownership and college enrollment rates in history.After leaving the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. His Clinton Global Initiative brings together global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.He served as the UN Envoy for Tsunami Recovery and is now the UN Special Envoy to Haiti.

Author Residence: Chappaqua, NY

Author Hometown: Hope, AR
Published June 22, 2004 by Vintage. 1056 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Life

The New York Times

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I was standing there having a casual conversation with King Juan Carlos, my occasional hunting partner, when we were joined by Blair and his charming, outspoken wife, Cherie, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi,” Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and c...

Feb 04 2007 | Read Full Review of My Life

The New York Times

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Bill Clinton's memoir 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.

Jun 23 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life

The Guardian

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My Life by Bill Clinton 957pp, Hutchinson, £25 Bill Clinton had barely been unleashed upon America, when the mythology started to grow.

Jun 26 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life

The Guardian

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My Life by Bill Clinton Hutchinson £25, pp957 So here it is - at nearly 1,000 pages and about 500,000 words - the manifesto for Bill Clinton's third, and most important, campaign: his continuing appeal for history's mandate.

Jun 27 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life

Publishers Weekly

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Although not all of the transitions between topics are seamless and listeners may wish John McElroy, who created this abridgment, had included more details from Clinton's younger years, Clinton's legendary charisma shines through in his reading, making this audiobook a rare treat.

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Book Reporter

As anyone who has been breathing for the past couple of months knows, William Jefferson Clinton's MY LIFE is more than a book.

Jan 12 2011 | Read Full Review of My Life

AV Club

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Clinton overdoses on folksy populism, but there's something condescending and self-serving about the way he uses his beloved common folk—who may not have book-learning, but are awash in homespun wisdom—as props whose worth is proved by their devotion to Clinton, as well as their eagerness for him...

Jul 20 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life


In fiction, Clinton would be labeled an “unreliable narrator.” Perhaps this can indeed be blamed on the same thing that Clinton blames it on: his “parallel lives.” Throughout the book, there are references, in clear therapy-speak-Bill and Hillary went into counseling post-Monica-to the fact that ...

Aug 03 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life

London Review of Books

There was a loyal amanuensis, duly thanked, whose task it was to sort through more than twenty handwritten notebooks and to type up and research material, but the end product has the feel of the man himself, for whom telling about himself and his times seems to come very naturally, who lists in h...

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Bookmarks Magazine

… My Life, too, reads like a double book: the opening chapters telling in colorful detail about his childhood, and the majority of the book reading like an expanded diary that recounts his later political successes and failures month by month."

Oct 21 2009 | Read Full Review of My Life

According to a report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's website, the former president's assertion has one flaw – Edmund Hillary conquered the world's tallest peak in 1953, seven years after Mrs. Clinton was born.

Jul 10 2004 | Read Full Review of My Life

Ben Casnocha

I listened to this on audiobook — a great choice since Clinton himself reads it, which means he speaks louder when times are good and softer when times are bad (the audiobook isn’t normalized, so it does fluctuate!).

Jun 14 2006 | Read Full Review of My Life

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