Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power by Kim Ghattas

The blurb:
The Secretary is the first book of its kind: a foreign correspondent and author with both an insider and a global perspective. Ghattas had unparalleled access to Hillary Clinton and her entourage for four years. She draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and other players around Washington and overseas to paint an intimate portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians in the world.

Populated by a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Hillary Clinton as America's envoy to the world in compelling detail:  from the first days of the Obama administration to the drama of WikiLeaks and the "Arab Spring" uprisings. Through Ghatta's eyes, we see Clinton under the intense professional spotlight of high-stakes diplomacy but also in the softer lighting of the more personal nuances of foreign relations -- cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 am after no sleep, or cajoling foreign ministers to keep the coalition together during the war in Libya, all the while trying to restore American leadership.

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 book offers a close-up of diplomacy at the highest level while seeking to answer pivotal questions about the United States. Is America still the global superpower?  If not, who or what will replace it, and what will it mean for America and the rest of the world?

I admit that I deeply admire Hillary Clinton, so I was eager to read about her especially from the point of view of international journalist, Kim Ghattas. The author, Kim Ghattas, grew up in Lebanon and her own experience with the US allows for what seems to be a more worldly, impartial, perspective towards the US and US foreign policy. I should say that while some American readers might not find her to be fully impartial, having grown up overseas with a complicated view of the US, I could fully understand the perspective that she presented.

I found the author's insights to be particularly enlightening and well grounded.  Further, I found the subject of the book - Hillary Clinton and US foreign policy, statesmanship, deeply fascinating as well. Ghattas discusses US foreign policy in a general way and throws in small details of what it is like to travel with the Secretary of State. She also gives us a chance to learn what was going on behind the scenes as various foreign policy crises were occurring. While the book might not be a deeply serious thesis on foreign policy, it certainly proves to be a fascinating and informative read. I didn't think it was possible, but having read the book, I have even more respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton.  The Secretary gives us a unique perspective on both Hillary Clinton as a person and Hillary Clinton as a diplomat/politician/stateswoman.  

ISBN-10: 080509511 - Hardcover $27.00
Publisher: Times Books; First Edition edition (March 5, 2013), 368 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers program and the publisher.

About the Author:
Kim Ghattas has been the BBC's State Department Radio and TV correspondent since 2008 and travels regularly with the secretary of state.  She was previously a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut.  Ghattas was part  of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006.  Her work has also appeared in Time magazine, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and on NPR radio. She lives in Washington, D.C.

No comments:

Post a Comment