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My Life
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 1. MY LIFE ~~ June 13 ~ June 19th ~~ Prologue - Chapters ONE and TWO (Through 16); No Spoilers Please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This is the Kick-off thread for the next Presidential Series selection.

For the week of June 13th - June 19th, we will be starting off slowly and reading the Prologue, and the first couple of chapters of My Life by William Jefferson Clinton. For those of you still acquiring the book, be advised that some folks have run into the problem of the book being now divided into two volumes. We will be reading and discussing the entire work so you will need to get both volumes (Volume I and Volume II). For those of you like myself who have the original hardcopy, that will not be necessary because the hardcopy was just one big book.

The first week's reading assignment is:

Week One - June 13th - June 19th -> Prologue, Chapter ONE, and TWO p. 3 - 16

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book will be kicked off on June 13th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

Since we will not be starting this book until June 13th, there is still some advance time remaining to obtain the book or both volumes and get started.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to begin reading this selection and/or to post.

Bryan Craig will be your moderator for this selection as he is our lead for all Presidential selections. We hope you enjoy this discussion.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

My Life by Bill Clinton

by Bill Clinton Bill Clinton


message 2: by Bryan (last edited Jun 17, 2011 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Hello presidential history buffs and politicos and welcome to our discussion of Clinton's autobiography. I have to tip my hat to my great colleague (Elisabeth S.) for crafting a great introductory paragraph, which I will use.

Anyone who has read the book before needs to be careful not to mention events that occur later in the book. We will have a Book as a Whole thread set up where we can discuss issues from any portion of the book. In addition, spoilers are allowed in the Glossary thread.

Book as a Whole: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...
Glossary thread: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

I will use the Glossary as a place to dive into people, events, issues in more detail. There might be some crossover on the daily thread, but I will point you to the folder when needed.

I will be using page numbers from my copy (ISBN 0-375-41457-6). There are several editions to this book, so let me know if you need some help on this.

Like any president, Clinton is controversial and many of us remember the events. I ask you to keep the discussion civil. We run a discussion where people can disagree, but we do it from a good place.

All right, we begin a long journey, but as Clinton says, we hope it is a great one.


message 3: by Bryan (last edited Jun 14, 2011 06:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig In the prologue, Clinton explains that he read the book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Signet) by Alan Lakein Alan Lakein. Out that experience, he made a list of goals: be a good man, have a good marriage, have children and good friends, have a successful political life, and write a good book. Clinton ends with the thought the life in politics was a great joy.

In chapter one, we learn about Clinton's parents. He was born in Hope, Arkansas to Virginia Cassidy and William Jefferson Blythe III, a WWII veteran. The plan was to move to Chicago, but Blythe was in a car accident and died on the side of the road.

In chapter two, Clinton's mother goes to New Orleans to be trained as a nurse anesthetist, while Clinton stayed in Hope with his grandparents. His grandmother (Mammaw) taught him the love of learning and be neat and clean. His grandfather, James Cassidy, was in the ice delivery business that hired kids during the depression, but by Clinton's time, owned a grocery store. He treated blacks as equals in his store. Both grandparents exposed him to people in the family and outside of the family. It was in those days, Clinton argues, that he realized he loved people. And politics gave people a chance to have a better life.


Bryan Craig Does anyone have some first impressions of the book from reading these three sections?

I figure I will ask this general question before we move to some information and more detailed issues.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
I really like his style in a way. It is very conversational and he takes frequent detours; you can tell as he details every small detail and nuance that he loves to talk and comes from a long line of storytellers. (smile)


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "In the prologue, Clinton explains that he read the book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Signet) by Alan LakeinAlan Lakein. Out that experience, he made a list of goals: B..."

I was really amazed at the story of his grandfather and the ice delivery business which when you think about it was not that long, long ago. And about his giving the local boys something to do by getting them to help him out and the judge with his 25 cents. Quite an amazing storyteller.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I really like his style in a way. It is very conversational and he takes frequent detours; you can tell as he details every small detail and nuance that he loves to talk and comes from a long line..."

He does take some detours, and I believe reviewers have said he might have taken too many of them, but we will see.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I was really amazed at the story of his grandfather and the ice delivery business which when you think about it was not that long, long ago"

I liked that story too, Bentley. I have seen those ice hooks and old ice boxes. It is pretty amazing, very hard work. Clearly this grandfather played a big role in his life.


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
I agree with both of your posts Bryan. As I recall from the story and some of the stories my grandparents told; the ice man use to ride down the street with a horse drawn wagon with the ice in the back. That is quite an image and one that I guess was familiar to Bill Clinton as a young boy. That must have been tremendously hard work.

Loved the judge story.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I agree with both of your posts Bryan. As I recall from the story and some of the stories my grandparents told; the ice man use to ride down the street with a horse drawn wagon with the ice in the ..."

The judge story is a great one, shows the impact his grandfather had. Funny about the "feel he had more money" (p. 11). So true during the Depression.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
I know; such a psychological lift for a person during that age - maybe a sense of false security was comforting at some level.


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1193 comments My comments before you folks posted as I finished before the page was open

---------------------------------------

This intro is very interesting – setting the stage for the story.

The prologue also sets some limitations of expectation: “Whether or not I am a good man is, of course, for God to judge.” Well that is true – but I assume another writer of this biography might make more judgments that Mr. Clinton will and I will be interested to see what, if any, judgments he makes.

This is also very political – reminds of a fellow I know who never (well almost never) says anything bad about anyone. He is a darned good salesman but not as good as Bill C. I think.

I believe Bill Clinton was well loved in his childhood and he introduces us to the key characters.

But it was written when Hillary was certainly planning to run for the presidency and so far Clinton is offending no one.

But his perspectives on life and success and his positive backward thoughts about these people are certainly inspiring and I can think if that has been, and I believe it has been, his view then he is a lucky guy.

I am looking forward to the rest.


Laura (apenandzen) I'm really looking forward to joining everyone on this discussion. I started reading this book in February and just got a little too bogged down with tax season & decided to switch to light fiction. I got about 1/4 of the way through it.

I think I'm going to re-read and post my thoughts a little later. I remember being really surprised by some of the information disclosed early on, but I need to re-read so that I don't spoil anything here.


message 14: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (MindyL) | 10 comments Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old account books from his grocery store after his grandfather had died. She noticed that he had let many customers go without paying their bills because he believed that people always deserved to be able to feed their families. Clinton then remarks that "Maybe that's why I've always believed in food stamps" (12)

What did everyone think of this? Do you think that his grandfather's actions were a powerful force in shaping Clinton's economic policies in the 1990's?

My book is ISBN: 0-375-41457-6 (hardcover)


message 15: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (MindyL) | 10 comments Vince wrote: "My comments before you folks posted as I finished before the page was open

---------------------------------------

This intro is very interesting – setting the stage for the story.

The ..."


I think that you make an interesting point, Vince, namely, that Clinton could have had Hilary's possible presidential run in mind when he wrote this.

What do others think about this? How strong of a factor was Hilary's political future in writing this book? Or, was it more of Clinton trying to smooth over his own reputation?


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Mindy wrote: "Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old account books from his grocery stor..."


Mindy, you have pointed out a very interesting segment. I really think that his family and how they treated those who were having a hard time did influence him tremendously; including his future policies.


Laura (apenandzen) Bentley wrote: "Mindy wrote: "Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old account books from hi..."


I agree with that, and I also think smoothing over his own reputation was a big factor in this book, Mindy.


Misty (almaroc) | 29 comments Bryan wrote: "He was born in Hope, Arkansas to Julia Chester and William Jefferson Blythe III,"

Wasn't his father a Junior, and his mother's name Virginia?


message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 13, 2011 05:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Hello Misty,

President Bill Clinton's last name was changed to his stepfather's last name at Bill's request (see below). Remember his mother got remarried.

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946. That would make his biological father the junior.

I see though what you are looking at in terms of what Bryan posted regarding his mother.

About the former President's mother:

Virginia Clinton Kelley (June 6, 1923 – January 6, 1994), was the mother of former United States President Bill Clinton.

She was born Virginia Dell Cassidy, the daughter of James Eldridge Cassidy (1898-1957), the town iceman (later a grocer), and Edith Cassidy (née Grisham; 1901-1968), a nurse anesthetist.

During her high school years, she worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. Following her graduation from high school, Virginia Kelley moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, to study to be a nurse anesthetist like her mother.

During her training in Shreveport, she met her first husband, Bill Blythe, Jr., whom she married in a civil ceremony in 1943, just before he shipped out for World War II military duty. Upon completion of her training, she returned to Hope. When her husband was discharged, he picked her up and they moved for four months to Chicago, Illinois. She moved back to her parents while she and William were in the process of getting a new home in the Hope area. It was while William was on his way back to Hope that he was killed in an automobile accident, three months before Bill III's birth.

In 1950, Virginia Kelley married Roger Clinton the father of her second son Roger, Jr. Clinton was an alcoholic and was physically and mentally abusive to Virginia and the boys.

He did not adopt Bill but Bill took his surname legally in 1962 at his own request. He told his mother that it would be easier if they all had the same last name. Roger and Virginia divorced in 1962, but remarried a few months later.

Following Roger's death from cancer in 1967, Virginia Kelley married hairdresser Jeff Dwire in 1969; he subsequently died of complications of diabetes in 1974.

On January 17, 1982, she married Richard Kelley, an executive at a food distribution brokerage firm. Their marriage lasted until her death from complications of breast cancer, at the age of 70, at her home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is buried alongside her first husband at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hope, Arkansas.

Source: Wikipedia


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Misty, Clinton was born at Julia Chester Hospital.

Clinton's birthplace marker; 1001 S. Main St.

A marker noting the site of the Julia Chester Hospital where Clinton was born was dedicated in November 1992. The hospital no longer exists.


message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "In the prologue, Clinton explains that he read the book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Signet) by Alan LakeinAlan Lakein. Out that experience, he made a list of goals: B..."

Bryan, check paragraph two - I think there is some confusion. Thanks.


message 22: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (MindyL) | 10 comments Bentley wrote: "Mindy wrote: "Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old account books from hi..."


I think it is important to remember too that, because he never knew his biological father, the men who ended up being father figures in his life, such as his grandfather, became very influential. He did say in chapter 2 that his grandfather was the first male influence in his life. It is easy to see how Clinton later imitated as president--on a much larger, national scale--his grandfather's interaction with his local community.


message 23: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (MindyL) | 10 comments Bryan wrote: "Bentley wrote: "I was really amazed at the story of his grandfather and the ice delivery business which when you think about it was not that long, long ago"

I liked that story too, Bentley. I hav..."


I say this now, but perhaps I will get annoyed with it as we progress through the book, but I like the detours. As Bentley mentioned already, Clinton's writing style is very conversational. Imagine talking with someone, especially if you are reminiscing, stories are rarely told in a linear fashion. People digress, they speak anachronistically sometimes. Sure, it can be distracting, and some might think it reads worse this way, but I like so far his stories within stories.


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Mindy wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Mindy wrote: "Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old accou..."


Mindy, another great observation on your part - look at the way his grandfather treated the African American community members and their families; in fact Bill was probably one of the few boys who played and interacted with other African American children his age and never thought twice about it. It was the way his grandparents treated their neighbors no matter their color or creed. He just adopted his grandfather's local beliefs and expanded them to a national belief system when you think about it.


Laura (apenandzen) Was anyone struck by the dedication? When I read that I thought, "Wow, I may be in for a treat here!"

I'm surprised by how moving this book is at times, too.


Laura (apenandzen) The second to last paragraph of the Prologue - if every president could begin his memoirs that way, we'd have a different nation on our hands, I think.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 13, 2011 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Laura, the dedication was beautiful; it almost was poetic and the last line about his grandfather and his grandfather's philosophy on life was tremendously moving.

Laura, also feel free to quote any section or line that we are reading if you like; I think that is always worthwhile so that folks do not have to reread a section; what you pointed out was so worthwhile.


message 28: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I just started reading this today and am only a few pages into it, but he seems to write like he talks. He speaks well so that is fine with me but he can be a wordy guy and is quite the story teller thus the length of the book, at least that is my very early initial impression. Detours might get weary after awhile but I guess we'll find out!


Bryan Craig Vince wrote: "My comments before you folks posted as I finished before the page was open

---------------------------------------

This intro is very interesting – setting the stage for the story.

The ..."


Vince, yeah, his past like many for us, had a deep influence on him and it sounds pretty positive experience up to this point. We always have to watch political biographies, because there is always an agenda. It might be a benign one: just telling my story, but I'm sure Clinton had reasons. This came out in 2003 and Hillary was safe in the Senate by this time. She might be thinking re-election, though.


Bryan Craig Mindy wrote: "Hi all,

I am looking forward to a great discussion. I was really interested in Chapter 2 when he recalled the story of his mother finding his grandfather's old account books from his grocery stor..."


I have to agree with Bentley. I think his grandfather's life influenced him on how he treated people and his policies somewhat. I would guess he heard a lot of stories of the Depression from his grandfather and seeing him run his store inspired him to say: I want to get into politics to help people.


Bryan Craig Misty wrote: "Bryan wrote: "He was born in Hope, Arkansas to Julia Chester and William Jefferson Blythe III,"

Wasn't his father a Junior, and his mother's name Virginia?"


Sorry for the mistake: I'm still digging out my house and missed a couple of things. My apologies and they are corrected.


Bryan Craig Laura wrote: "Was anyone struck by the dedication? When I read that I thought, "Wow, I may be in for a treat here!"

I'm surprised by how moving this book is at times, too."


Great dedication. You can tell from this and these two chapters that family are the cornerstone in his life.


Bryan Craig Alisa wrote: "I just started reading this today and am only a few pages into it, but he seems to write like he talks. He speaks well so that is fine with me but he can be a wordy guy and is quite the story telle..."

I agree, Alisa, I might have a little trouble with these detours. I think he is eager to throw everything in. We will see.


Bryan Craig Clearly, his father's death had a big impact on him. I would like to quote something that rung with me:

"My father left me with the feeling that I had to live for two people, and that if I did it well enough, somehow I could make up for the life he should have had...The knowledge that I, too, could die young drove me both to try to drain the most out of every moment of life and to get on with the next big challenge. Even when I wasn't sure where I was going, I was always in a hurry." (p. 7)

What are your thoughts on this? I think it seems to fit Clinton's personality very well, a telling statement.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Bryan, that quote is a very powerful one and I think a window into who Clinton really is at the core; I don't think he takes family lightly and maybe even because of his father's death; he values it even more so. I think that many of his closest family members are long gone and that is why I think he and Hilary stayed together where others may have thrown in the towel. Commitment, loyalty, family and getting on with life. Forgive, forget and live.


message 36: by Alisa (last edited Jun 14, 2011 09:45AM) (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) It is an interesting quote, and telling of his image as someone who is always on the go. If you compare this to his first presidential campaign it really comes out. Talk about chasing big challenges and never sitting still, he pushed himself around the clock and was seemingly everywhere. It is interesting to see him attribute this characteristic of his to his father.


Bryan Craig I get the impression he jumps in and moves on. Alisa, you make a good point that you see a lot of Clinton in his father. His father worked hard to make a success, but drove to Arkansas to see his son. Horrible tale about him on the side of the road. Wow.

I never fully appreciated the devotion to family until now. I don't know much about Clinton's personal side.


message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Me neither actually Bryan; he really is vested in his past and the folks who grew up with him and the influence of his family. Maybe that is why he wanted to take and include so many of these folks when he became President because he trusted who they were because he had known them so long.

It made me think a little of Grant in a way. The loyalty factor that sometimes got in the way.

Ulysses S. Grant Ulysses S. Grant


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "Me neither actually Bryan; he really is vested in his past and the folks who grew up with him and the influence of his family. Maybe that is why he wanted to take and include so many of these folk..."

And not to get too far from our story, Clinton reminds me of Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter. A southern governor who takes some of his local people to D.C.

Clearly his attachment to Arkansas is huge. I think there are presidents (like Grant) who did not have such a strong connection to the place where he grew up.


message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 14, 2011 10:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
That is true; but the connection that I saw was with Clinton always looking after a friend and seemingly trying to move them along and taking care of them or finding them a job if they did something for him or a favor (an implied reciprocity). As far as Carter - I won't go off the reservation with that analogy (smile). Comment only in reference to the quote from the passage.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "That is true; but the connection that I saw was with Clinton always looking after a friend and seemingly trying to move them along and taking care of them or finding them a job."

Now I see your point; yes, I agree, Clinton does take care of his family and friends, and loyalty is a double edge sword, no doubt.


message 42: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 14, 2011 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
Since Foster was already introduced in these chapters, I think we can make a point with him. A wonderful guy who Clinton knew for ages; was known as a terrific attorney and was a big fish in a little pond; who even had national recognition also highlighting what a great attorney and human being he was. This was a prime example of an individual who never should have even been offered the position in DC; he was not a DC kind of guy and if Clinton was as close to Foster as he claimed he was; he should have known that DC would crush him. So the loyalty that he had for Vince was in that case and in some others a double edged sword and it clouded his decision making capabilities.


Bryan Craig For those interested in reading Foster's bio, check out the Glossary:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

I knew Clinton met him early, but they grew up together, old, old friends. I tend to agree that Clinton needed Foster more and brought him over, all part of a tragic ending.


Bryan Craig In these chapters you get a deeper appreciation of Clinton's country roots: family, "meals, conversation, and storytelling"(p. 14). How you do think this affected him? I wonder if he would have been the same person if he grew up in New York City or Chicago (as his father had planned to do).


message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 42665 comments Mod
I am not so sure Bryan; if he grew up in NYC for example...he would have still been exposed to true ethnic diversity but I wonder if he would have understood the plight of the African Americans in the South and the Civil Rights movement as much since he probably saw some of the injustices first hand.


Bryan Craig I was thinking the same thing, because the neighborhoods are still tight back then. He would have neighbors, friends, etc. The segregation was there, too.

I guess you go back to an argument of city life vs. country life. Are there any differences? I have lived in the country and the suburbs and the country, the pace is slower, a little more value on human interaction, possibly.


message 47: by Alisa (new) - added it

Alisa (mstaz) I think we are seeing a big influence of family values in these early pages. How it plays out in urban v. rural environments has its own dynamic but I think the rural Southern culture particularly in that era was unique and affected him deeply.


Bryan Craig Alisa wrote: "I think we are seeing a big influence of family values in these early pages. How it plays out in urban v. rural environments has its own dynamic but I think the rural Southern culture particularly..."

So true, Alisa. The South and family are two important themes I think we will see throughout his book.


message 49: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments Clinton's grandfather was way ahead of his time in the way he treated African-Americans - he seemed to be color-blind, and taught Clinton to be the same way. He was lucky that the Klan didn't get to him. I lived in the South for 6 years in the 1980's, and befriended a great lady who was a true Southern Baptist. She was 'taught' to be prejudiced but never thought it was right, and when grown up and on her own, never practiced prejudice in any way. She knew when a child and until the Civil Rights Act went through that she had to keep her feelings under wraps from the general public in her area. Again, Clinton's grandfather was a remarkable man in many ways.

I'm enjoying the stories within stories; typical rural lifestyle. You learn a lot with the stories and reading between the plotlines.


Bryan Craig Great insights, Virginia, thank you for that. He was lucky that he did not get into any serious trouble over his acts. He was pretty brave man.


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