Review: HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Author: Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
Date of Publication: February 11 2014
Pages: 448
Source: Library

Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat in the 2008 Democratic primary brought her to the nadir of her political career, vanquished by a much younger opponent whose message of change and cutting-edge tech team ran circles around her stodgy campaign. And yet, six years later, she has reemerged as an even more powerful and influential figure, a formidable stateswoman and the presumed front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, marking one of the great political comebacks in history.  

The story of Hillary’s phoenixlike rise is at the heart of HRC, a riveting political biography that journeys into the heart of “Hillaryland” to discover a brilliant strategist at work. Masterfully unfolded by Politico’s Jonathan Allen and The Hill’s Amie Parnes from more than two hundred top-access interviews with Hillary’s intimates, colleagues, supporters, and enemies, HRC portrays a seasoned operator who negotiates political and diplomatic worlds with equal savvy. Loathed by the Obama team in the wake of the primary, Hillary worked to become the president’s greatest ally, their fates intertwined in the work of reestablishing America on the world stage. HRC puts readers in the room with Hillary during the most intense and pivotal moments of this era, as she mulls the president-elect’s offer to join the administration, pulls the strings to build a coalition for his war against Libya, and scrambles to deal with the fallout from the terrible events in Benghazi—all while keeping one eye focused on 2016. 

HRC offers a rare look inside the merciless Clinton political machine, as Bill Clinton handled the messy business of avenging Hillary’s primary loss while she tried to remain above the partisan fray. Exploring her friendships and alliances with Robert Gates, David Petraeus, Leon Panetta, Joe Biden, and the president himself, Allen and Parnes show how Hillary fundamentally transformed the State Department through the force of her celebrity and her unparalleled knowledge of how power works in Washington. Filled with deep reporting and immersive storytelling, this remarkable portrait of the most important female politician in American history is an essential inside look at the woman who may be our next president


Full disclosure: I know extremely little about American politics. I chose HRC in an effort to diversify my reading and explore an area I'm interested, politics, through a famous female politician in Hillary Clinton.

HRC is possibly one of the must unreadable books I have ever read. It is full of names of people I don't know, and it acts like a really long newspaper article that goes crazy on the details. There are so many little facts but the actual substance, as in what you're supposed to be getting out of it, is very little. A lot of it is incredibly repetitive in theme, and it doesn't touch much on actual political ideology. It's more about the people behind the politics, and even then it's about their teams, but not really. It is not cohesive because it jumps around from chapter to chapter with very little actual vision. In my head when I sum it up, it's a mess.

The title is misleading too. The 'state secrets' part is kind of useless because it doesn't talk that much about what the secrets would be. The book is also very pro-Hillary and never misses an opportunity to laud Hillary with ethics or intelligence. Again, I don't know much about her, and that hasn't really changed except I've been bombarded with how hard she works in this book.

The details are outrageously unnecessary. I randomly flipped to a page and read a paragraph, and it's during the chapter about Benghazi. The White House asked if Hillary Clinton would appear for some sort of briefing. The next paragraph is a completely unnecessary paragraph about the myth in Hillary land of not appearing on Sunday morning TV, and how actually, she's been on one program nine times so really, that's not really fair to say, and she's always fair and judicious, and she didn't think there would be anything to gain from a TV appearance. This was just so utterly unnecessary. The whole paragraph could have been summed up in, "Hillary didn't often appear on Sunday television and she chose not to talk about Benghazi because she saw no advantage in it." In fact, HRC would be a brilliant exercise book for people to practice summarizing paragraphs or chapters because so much could be summarized and shortened.

Now, I"ll give the authors some credit. The amount of information they have accumulated is pretty substantial. HRC is all about nitty gritty Senator Y and Obama aide X and it was hard to read through because at some point, I kept asking myself, what am I actually getting out of this?

I still finished HRC because of the novelty factor. It's so different from what I normally read that I had to give it a try. My enjoyment dipped when it came to some of the actual countries and disputes and I guess you could say I'm a dove to Hillary's hawk.

My impression after reading HRC is that I am very interested in the world of foreign affairs. I'll also be trying more politics books in the future, except with more of a focus on the political decisions than the mechanics. I'm not exactly sure how to rate HRC seeing as I have no point of comparison and thus don't know if it's any better or worse than other politics books. I guess I'll keep this review unrated.



What do you think?