The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power

Kim Ghattas

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1250044065

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. As President Barack Obama's secretary of state, she set out to repair America's image around the world―and her own. For the following four years, BBC foreign correspondent Kim Ghattas had unparalleled access to Clinton and her entourage, and she weaves a fast-paced, gripping account of life on the road with Clinton in The Secretary.

With the perspective of one who is both an insider and an outsider, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and players in Washington as well as overseas, to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians. Filled with fresh insights, The Secretary provides a captivating analysis of Clinton's brand of diplomacy and the Obama administration's efforts to redefine American power in the twenty-first century.

Populated with a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Clinton's transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America's envoy to the world in compelling detail and with all the tension of high stakes diplomacy. From her evolving relationship with President Obama to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Clinton cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 a.m. after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya―all the while trying to restore American leadership in a rapidly changing world.

Viewed through Ghattas's vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, The Secretary is also the author's own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, who or what will replace it and what will it mean for America and the world?

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you could express your own opinions again. Hillary, who was at the same conference in Munich, was frustrated when she heard the news. She canceled her dinner plans and tried to fix the damage. Obama was annoyed by the uncertainty the different statements were creating about Washington’s policy. The White House issued clear instructions: not a word would be uttered anymore that hadn’t been approved; no one was to stray from the talking points. * * * After days of defiantly poking his finger in

my life away from Lebanon I was becoming attuned to the thinking driving officials in D.C. I raised the prospect of months of protests, a simmering war, months of fighting. “You don’t want that, not in an election year. It’s messy,” I said. Our conversation was on background, so I couldn’t identify the speaker by name. “I’m not sure it has an impact on us. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s terrible that people are dying, and I wish we could find a way to stop it, but if it continues to simmer

Elysée Palace in Paris to the Saudi king’s desert retreat. It’s a journey in the company of the real people behind American power, the fallible human beings who devise American foreign policy in an increasingly complicated world and the foreign officials with whom they cooperate, jostle, and clash on a daily basis. It’s also my own journey from Beirut to Washington, as I try to come to terms with my personal misgivings about American power and look for answers to the questions that haunted my

* * Sitting in the press conference room, the traveling reporters wrote their stories until it was time to go. Everyone climbed into the black vans parked outside and waited some more in the parking lot. The vans started to drive but stopped just outside the gates. More waiting. Just after midnight, an e-mail arrived from Philippe: Senator Mitchell and his party aren’t travelling on with us, so when we leave the PM’s office shortly we’re going to head back to the David Citadel hotel so the

road once more. Snowmageddon had struck the U.S. East Coast, complicating everybody’s preparations for the trip. The advance team from the Line and from Diplomatic Security had to drive six hours south to find an airport that was operating despite the snow. Embassies in Washington were shut, and the State Department employees who looked after visas for outgoing delegations—including the media—were struggling to get stamps into our passports. To make matters worse, there were no cookies on the

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