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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton
Jonathan Allen
Crown Publishers, 2014
440 pp., $26.00

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Amy E. Black

Hillary Redux

The front-runner assessed.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the clear front-runner for the 2016 presidential race. She has yet to announce she is running, and she may opt not to seek the nation's highest office again. But until she makes an official announcement either way, other Democratic hopefuls are in a state of suspended animation, few daring to make any public moves until Clinton has showed her hand.

HRC, a political biography of Clinton's time as secretary of state, offers insights into her style and character, helping explain why so many potential presidential candidates seem paralyzed. She is a formidable—and vindictive—political figure whose presence undoubtedly changes the game.

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, journalists who cover domestic politics for Politico and The Hill, describe their book as a "tale of political resurrection for which the final chapters remain unwritten." Focusing their attention on the domestic political ramifications of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, they highlight her attempts to overcome the 2008 election loss, reshape the direction of American diplomacy, and establish a political legacy distinct from her husband's.

The authors stay too narrowly focused on this task, and, in so doing, miss the opportunity to frame their reporting with constructive context. Readers travel a dizzying pace from 2009 to early 2013, with a few flashbacks to the 2008 campaign trail interspersed. We learn a lot about how Clinton operates, but we're given far too little background to explore why she acts as she does and what makes her tick. Most readers think they know a lot about Hillary and Bill Clinton, which makes it even more essential to highlight relevant background material. Given the vast rumor mills that surround them, the authors should establish facts up front and set the stage for the rest of the book.

Allen and Parnes gained impressive access to Clinton's aides and friends, interviewing more than 200 ...

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