A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Hard Choices by Hilary Rodham Clinton. Having really enjoyed reading her previous autobiography and her husband’s (see my blog on Reading Politics) I was really looking forward to catching up on the details of her next few years. It is a fascinating read and one I would highly recommend.
There’s nothing like feeling that you are a fly on the wall to all the global issues that have dominated the news for the last few years through her role as US Secretary of State from 2009-2013. Whilst you know you are reading a partial and one sided account, as well as one written very much with a future run for the White House in mind, it’s still absorbing and compelling to hear her take on all of the situations she was faced with.
What could have been quite dry accounts of complex international negotiations are brought to life with the small personal touches and she tackles head on the fact she was frequently in the news as much for her hair style and what she wore as for her job. She is a great role model of a women at the top dealing with the craziness that women at the top still have to deal with.
I also liked her commitment to using evidence to make decisions. One quote that resonated me given we host the Alliance for Useful Evidence at Nesta is ‘I’ve always believed that good decisions in government, in business and in life are based on evidence rather than ideology. This is especially true when it comes to policies that will affect millions of people. You have to do the research and run the numbers; that’s how we minimize risk and maximise impact.’
Bill is present by his almost complete absence. He comes up a couple of times when she describes the importance of long walks with Bill to help her make key decisions like whether to accept Obama’s offer of becoming Secretary of State. But you do get the feeling that they are living pretty separate lives, even on the half of the year when she wasn’t on a plane or in another country.
When I saw her when living in Buffalo in 1999 I swore I would go and campaign for her when she ran for President and I didn’t. Next time I will.