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Hard Choices

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Hard Choices

A Memoir

Wall Street Journal Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Hillary Rodham Clinton details her experiences as head of the US State Department.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Hillary Rodham Clinton, former first lady and US senator and America’s 67th secretary of state, recounts her eventful tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. She describes the challenges and choices she faced while applying US “smart power” around the world. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies and frustrations of international relations – and for America’s career diplomats, who toil without recognition, often in danger. Clinton writes at greater length than necessary, but each chapter is neatly contained; you can selectively read those of greatest interest to you. Though always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends the insights of this ultimate insider on energy and international trade to businesspeople, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and NGOs, and her discussions of Iran, Russia, Syria and Gaza to anyone who follows the news. As to the burning question about whether Clinton’s memoir is a prelude to her potential presidential run – well, it couldn’t hurt.


“Pivot to Asia”

After battling then New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as his primary rival in the 2008 presidential campaign, US president-elect Barack Obama asked her to serve as his secretary of state. Clinton accepted, with the goal of applying “smart power” to international relations: a new, consolidated view of the “‘hard power’ of military force” plus the “soft power” of diplomacy.

She first sought “to promote political reform as well as economic growth” in the Asia-Pacific region. Clinton worked with and raised the profile of such groups as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization. She set out to establish a more productive relationship with China. Even as she urged it to engage with the world, she still stood firm on US disapproval of its human rights violations. Clinton pursued economic partnerships with the Chinese, who, she felt, wanted to re-engage with America. Dissident Chen Guangcheng’s evasion of house arrest and appeal to the US Embassy for help complicated Clinton’s mission. Delicate negotiations began. Clinton crafted an agreement letting Chen and his family move to New York.

About the Author

Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton was America’s first lady from 1993 to 2001 and served as senator from New York from 2001 to 2009.

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