For Love of Politics: The Clintons in the White House

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Sally Bedell Smith’s book on the Private World of the Kennedy White House, Grace & Power (also published by Aurum) was praised by Sarah Bradford in the Spectator as ‘the best book on the subject for years’. Now the author has turned her attention to the Clintons, and produced a similarly diligent and forensic work on their controversial White House Years. It is from the start, as she shows, and in one commentator’s jaundiced words, a presidency of ‘two for the price of one’ – in which Hillary Clinton was not merely Bill’s wife but his political collaborator: a role to prove immensely damaging to his first term when he entrusted to her the controversial, and ultimately fruitless, task of overhauling health care. But also, Smith shows, the Clintons’ whole relationship was founded on politics – it was what they had most in common, most loved to talk about, and what held them together even when Bill’s infidelities tested Hillary’s loyalty to the utmost. This book presents an unsparing, often shocking picture of the Clintons’ complex and murky financial affairs, and an equally sobering account of the extent of Bill’s philandering. But to British readers this was also a president who helped to resolve conflict in Northern Ireland and in the Balkans, and certainly created a great deal more peace than war.Sally Bedell Smith is a Contributing Editor to Vanity Fair, and lives in Washington DC.