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

Kim Ghattas

Picador

1250044065

9781250044068

Trade Paperback

400 Pages

$17.00

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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?

REVIEWS

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

“Reading The Secretary is as close as anyone can get to flying around the world with Hillary Clinton over the past four years. Kim Ghattas has captured many colorful details not only about people and places but also about the urgency, exhaustion, and turn-on-a-dime responses necessary to stay one step ahead of the world. She gives us an up-close-and-personal look at the exercise of American power.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor, Princeton University, and former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State

"[A] reporter's balanced and informed perspective on Clinton as secretary of state and what it was like to travel with her . . . An engaging read. It's both personal and political, but Ghattas is far more interested in foreign policy than in gossip . . . Ghattas has a unique personal perspective . . . skeptical but not cynical . . . More cynical observers would argue that Clinton was also selling herself, part of her latest transformation. But that's a question that Ghattas leaves to her readers to decide."—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today 

"Throughout her account, Ghattas feeds the reader fascinating bitesized potted histories of nations and their (often unresolved) conflicts, before regaling us with the ins and outs of Clinton's negotiations and her results . . . There are standout chapters on the Arab Spring and Clinton's Apology Tour after the WikiLeaks scandal . . . [An] informative and absorbing book."—Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Kim Ghattas offers a unique perspective . . . as both a dual biography and a primer on how the State Department actually works . . . Ghattas knocks conspiratorial preconceptions down with the objective level-headedness of a professional journalist . . . Highly recommended."—Karl Wolff, Chicago Center for Literature & Photography

"Provides a unique and compelling look both at Clinton as a person and at the U.S. diplomatic process . . . The book derives much of its strength from Ghattas's slowly coming to terms with the complexity of U.S. diplomatic relations . . . Gives the reader a glimpse of just why [Clinton] was such an effective diplomat."—Lisa Weidenfeld, The Christian Science Monitor

"[Ghattas] paints a picture of Hillary Clinton as a person, praising her strengths, noting her foibles, [and] takes readers inside Ms. Clinton's head . . . As the United States continues to evaluate its next course of action in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, readers can gain some insight into the historical background and significance of America's intervention and support in this part of the world—and the woman who helped steer those decisions in recent years."—Phyllis Hanlon, New York Journal of Books

"A remarkable book. Not only does it provide an insightful record of life on the road with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also it treats public diplomacy seriously . . . Rarely do journalists acknowledge public diplomacy's existence, much less write about it as thoughtfully as Ghattas does . . . Like Hillary Clinton, Kim Ghattas understands the significance of this increasingly significant aspect of foreign policy."—Philip Seib, The Huffington Post

"Finely wrought . . . This book fleshes out and vindicates the view that Clinton turned out to be a brilliant diplomat . . . [It] leaves behind her political baggage on this tour, a refreshing change from the usual review of her life chapters as first lady, senator, and presidential candidate."—Jamie Stiehm, U.S. News & World Report

''The Secretary is an honest and forthright look at Clinton's term—critical, though presented with a passing admiration of someone who started with so many unfavorable odds." —The Daily Beast

"Ghattas shares a personal and unvarnished account of Clinton as secretary of state."—Ms. magazine

“Poignant and gripping . . . The story of two women from different generations and cultures, yet bound by a common passion, one that transcends geographical and political boundaries, reminding us not just of our differences but of our shared humanity. In all her roles, Hillary Clinton has always been motivated by a desire to change the world but has also been prepared to be changed by it. In her exchanges with Clinton, Ghattas is also prepared to change and be changed, and through her attempts to know Clinton she also comes to better know herself, turning this book into a powerful journey of discovery and self-discovery.”—Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“An unusually intimate look at a historic secretary of state . . . An unexpected page-turner.”—Celia McGee, O, The Oprah Magazine

“It’s hard to read this vivid account and not wonder how Hillary would perform in the Oval Office.”—David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of Bloodmoney

"Kim Ghattas has written a terrific book–not just our first intimate portrait of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but also a riveting personal story about what it's like to be a journalist, and a Lebanese woman at that, living in the Clinton bubble. Ghattas is very smart about the nuances of American policy and the patient intelligence that is required for creative diplomacy, and she has made it all come alive in compelling, page-turning fashion."—Joe Klein, Time magazine

"Both a splendid bird's eye of view of Hillary Clinton's life and times, her education and evolution as America's top diplomat, and an outsider's candid impression of American power, with all its flaws and its perils but also its potential for good."—Robert Kagan, Brookings senior fellow and author of The World America Made

“In The Secretary, Kim Ghattas does a tremendous job of blending the human and the historic, granting readers an insider’s perspective on how Hillary Clinton has worked through pressing international challenges—and the press corps itself. Ghattas juxtaposes the personalities of Clinton and her staff with the far-reaching global impact of their decisions. A fast-paced, substantive read that I highly recommend.”—Ian Bremmer, author of Every Nation for Itself and President of Eurasia Group

“[An] engaging look at U.S. diplomacy under Hillary Clinton . . . Ghattas presents a close-up look at the touchiest of diplomatic issues in the first Obama administration, from the Arab Spring uprisings to WikiLeaks . . . a rich portrait of the different perspectives on U.S. power and influence around the world as well as her own personal experiences and ambivalence about the U.S.”—Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton becomes the face of a superpower in this captivating profile . . . [Ghattas’s] perceptive reportage on Clinton’s personal leadership grounds a shrewd analysis of America’s role as the still-indispensable nation.”—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Kim Ghattas has been the BBC's State Department radio and TV correspondent since 2008 and travels regularly with the secretary of state. She was previously a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut. Ghattas was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. Her work has also been published in Time magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post and she appears regularly as a guest on NPR radio shows. She was born in Beirut and currently lives in Washington, D.C.
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  • The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power

    Kim Ghattas introduces her book The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power. The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, anchored by Ghattas's own perspective and her quest to understand America's place in the world.

  • Kim Ghattas on Hardball with Chris Matthews

    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power with Chris Matthews.

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    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power with web producer Julia Steers on CBS.com/

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    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power on Politico.

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    Kim Ghattas on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner

    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American on MSNBC's Power on Now with Alex Wagner.

  • Kim Ghattas on MSNBC's "The Cycle"

    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power on MSNBC's "The Cycle"

  • Kim Ghattas on Morning Joe

    Kim Ghattas discusses The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power on Morning Joe.

  • Kim Ghattas on The Leonard Lopate Show

    Kim Ghattas discusses 'The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power' on The Leonard Lopate Show.

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    Kim Ghattas discusses 'The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power' on Amanpour.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Kim Ghattas

  • Kim Ghattas has been the BBC's State Department radio and TV correspondent since 2008 and travels regularly with the secretary of state. She was previously a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut. Ghattas was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. Her work has also been published in Time magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post and she appears regularly as a guest on NPR radio shows. She was born in Beirut and currently lives in Washington, D.C.
  • Kim Ghattas Joe Newman
    Kim Ghattas
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