Hillary Clinton is a busy woman. But thats not what kept her from being interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein (as in, Watergates Woodward and Bernstein). Clinton is the focus of Bernsteins 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 Clintons 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. Ive done the work of telling the story; thats all I can do. I dont want to make these leaps of psycho-biography; its not what I do, he says. I think its a problem that journalists get drawn into, particularly those who write books. The next thing you know were saying things that we dont know anything about.
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Bernstein says he didnt get any official feedback from the Clinton camp about the book. However, hes heard Hillary hasnt read it She doesnt read books about herself but Bill has. I think hes more than smart enough to know its a good book. (Not that hes 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