A Woman in Charge author Carl Bernstein

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist tells all in a Hillary Clinton biography

Hillary Clinton is a busy woman. But that’s not what kept her from being interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein (as in, Watergate’s Woodward and Bernstein). Clinton is the focus of Bernstein’s latest biography, A Woman in Charge, which follows the life of the former first lady turned New York senator and current presidential hopeful. However, as the book neared completion, Hillary and Bill Clinton opted out of an interview.

“There was a meeting at which some of the top campaign officials decided this was not in their interest,” Bernstein says. “It obviously carried the risk of giving the impression that if they talked to me it might imply that they had confirmed some difficult truths for them in the book.” These truths are issues Clinton avoided writing about in her autobiography, such as her less-than-idyllic childhood and marriage. (According to A Woman in Charge, in 1989, Bill admitted he was in love with another woman and asked for a divorce, but Hillary refused).

Bernstein interviewed almost 200 of Clinton’s closest friends and enemies to get these stories, including Betsey Wright, who served under Bill as chief-of-staff when he was governor of Arkansas. A Woman in Charge follows Clinton from her life as a child to her evolution from Republican to Democrat at Wellesley College to her marriage to Bill Clinton to her days in the Senate.

Bernstein was adamant about the importance of just telling the story and not speculating or analyzing. “I’ve done the work of telling the story; that’s all I can do. I don’t want to make these leaps of psycho-biography; it’s not what I do,” he says. “I think it’s a problem that journalists get drawn into, particularly those who write books. The next thing you know we’re saying things that we don’t know anything about.”

Bernstein says he didn’t get any official feedback from the Clinton camp about the book. However, he’s heard Hillary hasn’t read it — “She doesn’t read books about herself” — but Bill has. “I think he’s more than smart enough to know it’s a good book.” (Not that he’s speculating or anything.) Bernstein will discuss and sign copies of A Woman in Charge today at 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free.
Mon., Nov. 5, 7 p.m., 2007

 
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