BOOK REVIEW: Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton’s autobiography on her experiences as American Secretary of State under President Obama can primarily be characterized as patriotic and a political work in preparation for Clinton’s second run for the U.S. presidency.
Without neglecting mistakes made in the past by US officials, Clinton observes the world she lives and operates in. She does so as is requested by her function: with red-white-blue colored and stars-and-stripes shaped sunglasses. Mistakes made in the past are not neglected, but tried to be justified. History-construction seems childishly easy and is definitely not shied away from. Furthermore, Clinton isn’t afraid to celebrate her own successes, both on micro and macro level.
To prevent misunderstandings: I liked reading Hard Choices. A valuable insight in the mores of international (power) politics is provided by Clinton in her geo-thematically organized bio. Per situation she’s been in (ranging from the Benghazi situation to economic diplomacy in China) a chapter is devoted to explain the various dilemma’s and circumstances she’s dealt with. Interwoven with speech abstracts, catchy lines and quotes of mostly own production, the point she’s trying to make comes forth clearly.
This point is however a overly American patriotic one. As stated above, this was her job, but the political and moral correctness (for American public!) seems too good to be true. Seen in the context of her to-be-announced presidential candidature, the closing line of the book “[t]he time for another hard choice will come soon enough” seems to explain it all. This book is a billboard for Clinton’s trustworthiness, ability to govern and knowledge of (geo)politics and foreign policy. By writing this biography, Clinton gives the public the feeling they know her, they can follow her line of reasoning and most importantly, they can trust her. Most certainly: she’s had an impressive career, and she might be just the candidate the American public is waiting for. But in terms of the review of this book, it is more than ‘just’ an insight in international relations from the seat of the Secretary of State.
At face value the book is a nice read. Especially students of IR, International Law or Political Science get a chance to compare their academic knowledge to the practical and pragmatic side of actual business. However, this book has to be seen in a domestic political context, and as a preparation for Clinton’s candidacy declaration. This makes the lack of self-criticism explainable and perhaps even justifiable. As soon as her presidential plans are laid out I will take another look at this book, and I advise you to do so too!