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American Evita: Hillary Clinton's Path to Power    by Christopher Andersen order for
American Evita
by Christopher Andersen
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

American Evita is a depiction of one of the world's most famous, complex, both admired and reviled women -- Senator (D-NY) Hillary Rodham Clinton. Christopher Andersen covers the Clinton family legacy including the climb to power, 'husband-wife co-presidency', scandals, intimate affairs, tempers and favoritism. One could label Andersen's book a behind-the-scenes story, covering not only the Clinton family's political movements, but also reporting on Bill's adventures with paramours. Everything and anything surrounding the Bill and Hillary years is included.

Hillary's years at Wellesley and Yale are discussed. As an activist, she was apparently involved in causes including children rights, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and the Black Panthers. The author depicts her reversing stands, as well as changing party allegiance in her years before Bill became Arkansas governor. The relationship between Bill and Hillary began at Yale, and, according to Andersen, Bill continued his 'womanizing' before and after marriage, with her knowledge. Hillary was called the president's 'chief strategist', who controlled associates by ordering a lot of 'just do it's'. According to this book, the First Lady was demanding. We're told she controlled who was hired and fired. A high-administration staff-person is quoted as saying, 'Is she in the loop? She is the loop!'

What is fact? What is fiction? Noting Andersen's writing background (magazine and newspaper articles and celebrity book credits), I admit to skepticism. However, the more I read, the more I found believable. Andersen's notes and quotes come from Clinton staff members, and a surrounding periphery of individuals and media. The author takes the reader through both Hillary's and Bill's family backgrounds and their circles of contacts and friends. During the rise to power, from Bill's years as Arkansas governor to the 'co-presidency' at the White House, scandals followed the couple into the Oval Office - 'Whitewater', 'Travelgate', 'Nannygate', and 'Troopergate'. There was also the presidential 'eleventh-hour' pardoning of a questionable list of convicted individuals (though Hillary denied having any say in this). Upon election as New York Senator, Hillary immediately set up her own Political Action Committee (PAC) known as 'HILLPAC', an action that is usually a 'first step toward a presidential run'.

There is no doubt that Hillary Rodham Clinton is an intelligent, and savvy strategist, with impressive political acumen. American Evita is an entertaining page-turner. Some readers may question Andersen's objectivity. Dislike Hillary? You'll like the book. Like Hillary? You'll wonder about a conspiracy. Looking for a biography? You're in for a disappointment. I found it a well-written, informative, provocative, and believable read. Fact or fiction? Read the book and decide for yourself.

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