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A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,246 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
Drawing from hundreds of interviews with colleagues, friends and with unique access to campaign records, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Carl Bernstein offers a complex and nuanced portrait of one of the most controversial figures of our time: Hillary Clinton. He has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently—e ...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2007)
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113th out of 658 books — 237 voters
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25th out of 135 books — 72 voters


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Community Reviews

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Margaret
As someone who at this point is still undecided, I thought that I'd pick up both this book and one of Obama's to read.

Let me tell you - HRC is a completely kick-ass woman, much more so than I'd ever thought. She's not an easy person to get behind, and this book make an unintentional argument against the cult of personality that seems to be sweeping the political arena right now.

Reading this book confirmed the things I didn't necessarily like about her, but it also gave me much more insight into
...more
Charlotte Apgood
Sep 21, 2007 Charlotte Apgood rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all informed voters
Carl Bernstein obviously has done a prodigious job of research on a woman who has stirred strong emotions among Americans for many years. Despite copious media coverage and intense scrutiny, she has remained somewhat of an enigma. Bernstein has written a book that smoothly presents a remarkable human being whose intellect and political savvy are impossible to ignore.

Collectively, the author's presentation of Hillary has defined a human being who, her tribulations notwithstanding, has stayed on
...more
Nancy
Aug 01, 2007 Nancy rated it really liked it
I'm no less conflicted about her being president than I was before I picked this up.

I found the section on her childhood illuminating, and as an amateur armchair headshrinker I thought it makes her attraction to Bill (and his to her) make perfect sense. I found the section on the White House years illuminating as well, in terms of the dynamics that culminated in Bill doing that utterly stupid thing he did.

While this isn't the hatchet job I thought it might be after hearing Carl on the talk circu
...more
Robert
Aug 11, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it
A political junkie friend of mine gave me this thick biography of Hillary Clinton published in 2007, telling me it was a good book. I was skeptical, but he was right. It's well-written, well-researched, balanced and yet painful to read because of its detailed account of Hillary Clinton's grim experiences married to Bill Clinton.

Hillary Rodham was a smart, take-charge girl who grew up under the heavy thumb of a brutish boor of a father and seemed determined--was determined, I should say--to prove
...more
Zachariah
Oct 15, 2013 Zachariah rated it really liked it
Seemed to be a balanced account.

Hillary is such an INTJ, so it was interesting hearing about her personality since I'm one too. It's interesting how bad she was politically early on--due to some typical INTJ traits and being unable to play the social-political game in Washignton.

I like her and Bills relationship-matching too; two smart strong people who can argue and sharpen each others minds while also supporting and sticking with each other.

Going into this book, I didn't realize how religious
...more
Richard
Apr 22, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
This book came out in the early stages of the 2008 Presidential campaign. It added to the already growing interest and debate surrounding Hillary Clinton, since she was a front-runner in the Democratic Party. Some critics have accused Carl Bernstein of deliberately releasing the book to enhance Hillary's campaign, since it paints a mostly favorable image of her. The book is not, however, a political tract, in the context, as Bernstein points out, that her books ("It Takes a Village" and "Living ...more
Amanda
Aug 11, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Whew - wow, what a mammoth read! This long extraordinarily well-researched book is almost as incessant and relentless as the campaign against Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Bernstein offers a dense, warts-and-all read that covers more aspects and interviews than any biography I have read before in his efforts to uncover this complex and quite enigmatic woman. Despite the fact that she lived in the gold-fish bowl of the White House for 8 years, she is intensely private, making it difficult to get prope
...more
Julie
Sep 30, 2007 Julie marked it as books-i-gave-up-on
Shelves: women
Maybe it's that I write about people for a living too (I'm not a journalist) but I couldn't stand the style of this book. I know journalists are allowed to have unnamed sources but when I make a statement about somebody that's damaging I always name it's source so the reader can evaluate the context. Every nasty remark in this one was from an unnamed source. It just grated on me. I couldn't take it and I put it down. Perhaps I'll come back to it some day.
Jessica
Sep 28, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Democratic Primary Voters and Independent General Election Voters
I chose to read this bio of Hillary because I wanted a more objective opinion about her. This particular book is supposed to be critical of her political motives. However, the more I read it, the more I admire and respect Ms. Clinton.

Gail
Dec 17, 2007 Gail rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to better understand the Clinton presidency
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
OMG - I feel like I deserve to be president after finishing this book!

Sarcasm aside, I picked a bad time of year (with the holidays upon us) to read a 550-page tome focused on politics. 'Nuff said.

But for what it's worth, this book is captivating in its own way. I was fascinated by Bernstein's retelling of Hillary's youth, her years in college, first meeting Bill, their early years in Arkansas, and so on ... It's when I hit around Page 300 that I started to lose a bit of interest with the book
...more
Stephanie
Feb 11, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women who deal with a lot of crap
Shelves: goodgirls, badgirls
I was inspired to read this book after hearing an interview with Carl Bernstein on NPR. I must say, he couldn't have picked a more fascinating subject for a biography. Somehow, Hillary Clinton has managed to keep her private life under wraps for all these years, which is strange, given how much of it has been devoted to good works.

The single thing that most surprised me about HRC is her deep and profound faith. After reading this book, I'm extremely impressed that she doesn't trot it out for pub
...more
Sara
Feb 19, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
Let's be honest, I was going to like this book no matter what. I love me some Hills. But, I really do think Bernstein does a good job portraying an accurate picture of HRC. He is especially critical of her own biography, Living History, which I also thought was pretty much crap. The portrait he paints is much more realistic, and super-detailed, and still positive overall. The one thing I disliked is that he focuses ALOT on the Clinton presidency, which I suppose is to be expected, but it almost ...more
Diane
Jan 12, 2015 Diane rated it liked it
Bernstein has certainly been thorough in his research. I gained some more insight into the Clintons compared to Hillary's own book "Living History". Bernstein actually refers to her book rather frequently to offer what her position was vs. the people close to her that he's interviewed. I was surprised at the number of people he actually got to speak on the record ie: close family friends and former high level employees from both the Clinton's Governor and Presidential days. The book covers from ...more
Seri
Mar 26, 2016 Seri rated it really liked it
I was looking for a balanced biography of Hillary Clinton to read before I had to vote, and this book fitted that niche well. I thought that the author did a nice job of telling her story (much of which was new to me!). He highlighted both her successes and her failures, and tried to point out what the sources of those successes and failures might be. I feel like I learned a lot about where Hillary Clinton came from and how she has developed over her lifetime.

On to the negatives... I felt like
...more
Margaret
Jan 21, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing
Carl Bernstein is a brilliant writer and researcher, and I found many insights on Hillary's career and the years of her husband's presidency. I'm not comfortable with the thought of her as president, mainly because of her over-willingness to use military force and something about her personality. The book clarifies her tendency to be self-righteous and a little less than honest, with stories about events in her life. He writes that she has shown capacity for growth in her character. She is highl ...more
Steven Voorhees
Jul 21, 2015 Steven Voorhees rated it really liked it
When Hillary Rodham Clinton launched her second presidential run, journalist/author Carl Bernstein spoke on CNN. He discussed both Hillary the politician and Hillary the woman. Bernstein's analysis inspired me to read his A WOMAN IN CHARGE -- despite the book ends with HRC's first White House campaign in 2007. But my goodness, what a life she'd led up until then! From turbulent beginnings in Chicago to her undergrad years at Wellesley; from Yale Law to the Watergate impeachment inquiry staff; fr ...more
Lara Beers
Aug 01, 2007 Lara Beers rated it really liked it
Detailed overview of what makes Hillary, Hillary. I found that many of my perceptions of her were challenged and changed. Ultimately, I had more in common with her than I ever thought I would and I am proud of her as a female politican. It was a facinating read, I still am confused about many things--why she put up with Bill for one, but you do understand more of where she is coming from than ever before.
Dayla
Feb 26, 2013 Dayla rated it it was amazing
Now we know who was the better writer between Woodward and Bernstein. Woodward liking sensationalism; Bernstein checking out his facts.

And that shows in this biography about Clinton.

2016 or bust for President!
Leanna Pohevitz
Sep 26, 2015 Leanna Pohevitz rated it it was ok
I can't wait to get to a generation of writers that talk about a woman in charge based on her strength of political character instead of constantly mentioning whether or not she was wearing make-up at any given point. I was disappointed by the author time and again - telling us about what she looked like or about her boyfriends rather than focusing on her work.

I look forward to reading about her story from both her point of view and the point of view of other authors who don't focus on her for h
...more
Jodie
Jan 19, 2014 Jodie rated it really liked it
I took a while to get into this book. It was so detailed and very heavy reading for a while. Once I became familiar with Carl Bernstein's writing style, it was a fantastic read. His research seemed very thorough, and, given it was a book about a political person, it was presented in a very balanced, apolitical manner. I particularly liked reading about the struggles Hilary went through when she made mistakes, I think the frantic sense of panic she felt is not uncommon amongst women who are used ...more
Lacey Louwagie
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Item: A Book About Politics

3.5 stars

When I first saw this book on my TBR list, it crossed my mind that it's the kind of book I say I want to read but that I never actually feel like buckling down and reading. Even though biographies always end up surprising me, they are not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of real page-turners. But the combination of Hillary's second presidential run and the politics item in the challenge, plus lots of gushy reviews
...more
Baden
Jan 24, 2013 Baden rated it really liked it
I read this a year or two ago. I learned a ton about the Clintons.
Karen
Dec 24, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent to read simultaneously with Living History
Michael
Jan 22, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Yeah...I just don't care that much. I made it about half way through, which is just as far as I did in her husband"s autobiography a few years back. Conventional wisdom says Mrs. Clinton will be POTUS in 2016, but I don't know. There has always been something off about her. The base of her party loathes her (although that won't stop them from voting for her if the choice is Clinton vs. Republican). She is not very good with the public, and is busily creating a brand that's more poll-tested, focu ...more
Pat
Apr 19, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it
Although a daunting 600+ pages, this biography by Pulitzer Prize winning author Bernstein is not a quick, riveting read, but rather an attempt to assemble the facts from a variety of noted sources about Hillary from childhood to her beginning efforts to run for president. It is more a look at a politician rather than the total person...perhaps because of the male prospective from this long time Washington D.C. news writer...or perhaps because both Clintons refused to be interviewed. Nonetheless, ...more
Bryan
Feb 03, 2009 Bryan rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Theresa
May 01, 2013 Theresa rated it really liked it
It only took me a week and a half to read this book. But that is because I had jury duty. Anyway, I have become more interested in Hillary Clinton over the past couple years while she was Secretary of State. I was born in the 80's and grew up in the 90's. So I was aware of who she was (first lady) and some of the problems with her husband and his Presidency. But mostly I didn't pay attention to it. With her approval rating sky high and members of her party talking about her running for President ...more
Blog on Books
Mar 29, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it
Until the last few years it would have been considered unusual to have a biographical tome delivered in the middle of one’s continued political assent (as opposed to years later.) But modern day campaigns have dictated that the ‘approved’ biography be released almost as a marketing tool of the political aspirant. Such is not the case here.

Famed investigative reporter Bernstein spent the last eight years researching and writing this extensive book interviewing over 200 friends, enemies, staffers
...more
Shana
Apr 16, 2008 Shana rated it liked it
Fascinating biography of HRC, chronicling her formative years, ambitions during college, varied legal and political work including working for the Children's Defense Fund, the Nixon impeachment, the McCarthy campaign, as well as her relationship and marriage to Bill Clinton. During her years as governor's wife, she and Bill worked together as equal partners in politics, both having shared ideas and work during their college years.

As one of the first women in the white house who was not content t
...more
Frank Sloth Aaskov
Feb 03, 2013 Frank Sloth Aaskov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Hillary Rodham Clinton
An nuanced insight into one of our time's most notable politicians written before the democratic presidential nomination in 2007. I found the book interesting and enlightening, giving me a better understanding of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the battles she has fought. I was a bit hesitant about reading the book as I feared it would be a idealisation and rosy picture of Hillary, but the author included both valid and invalid critique of her, describing both her many flaws and positives attributes. ...more
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Carl Bernstein is an American journalist who, as a reporter for The Washington Post along with Bob Woodward, broke the story of the Watergate break-in and consequently helped bring about the resignation of United States President Richard Nixon. For his role in breaking the scandal, Bernstein received many awards; his work helped earn the Post a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1973.
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“Are you really able to blow it off?” Hillary was asked. “I blow most of it off. I get angry. I get confused about why people are doing what they do. I don’t get up every day thinking destructively about others. I don’t spend my hours plotting for somebody else’s downfall. My feeling is, gosh there’s more work that can be done, everybody ought to get out there and improve the health care system, and reform welfare and get guns out of the hands of teenagers.” 0 likes
“about Jimmy Carter,” 0 likes
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