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Clinton Book Trashed By The New York Times

New York Times literary critic Michiko Kakutani savages Bill Clinton's autobiography. From a condensed version of Kakutani's review appearing in the Arizona Republic:

As his celebrated 1993 speech in Memphis to the Church of God in Christ demonstrated, former President Bill Clinton is capable of soaring eloquence and visionary thinking. But he is also capable of numbing, self-conscious garrulity.

Unfortunately for the reader, Clinton's much-awaited autobiography My Life, is long-winded and tedious.

The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull.

In many ways, the book is a mirror of Clinton's presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration. [...]

My Life reads like a messy pastiche of everything that Clinton ever remembered and wanted to set down in print; he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria's new president on TV. There are endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned. There are some fascinating sections about Clinton's efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement (at one point, he suggests that Yasser Arafat seemed confused, not fully in command of the facts and possibly no longer at the top of his game), but there are also tedious descriptions of long-ago political debates in Arkansas. There are some revealing complaints about missteps at the FBI under Louis Freeh's watch, but there are also dozens of pointless digressions about matters like zombies in Haiti and ruins in Pompeii.

Is the nations most influential newspaper part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as well? No doubt Clinton supporters will be making such accusations. If the book is as bad as the Times says it is that's a shame, because the subject matter held such promise. Love him or hate him, Clinton was interesting.

You can read the whole review in the Sunday New York Times here (Registration Required).


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Comments (6)

At 950 pages what would any... (Below threshold)
Paul:

At 950 pages what would anyone expect?

By definition any President has had an extraordinary life, but 1000 pages worth?

I thing you should never do... (Below threshold)
Tarzan:

I thing you should never do. Trust critics. Literary critics are failed writers. I've learned one thing as an avid reader. My taste is different from other people's. I will read a critic's review, but if I think the subject matter is interesting enough, and Bill Clinton is, I will buy the book and see for myself what the book is like. If you're not interested in Bill Clinton the man, you might be concerned about lay out, dullness, elloquence, length, instead of substence. Suprising the critic didn't critisize the pictures in the book. I'll make up my own mind, thank you very much.

Bill Clinton book signing tour schedule and TV appearances

Happy Father's Day Kevin. ... (Below threshold)
Ted:

Happy Father's Day Kevin. Hope you've had a great day.

i haven't finished reading ... (Below threshold)

i haven't finished reading it, but the times' review struck me as a little harsh. the book may be a little indulgent for an autobiography, but so was franklin's.

I think that the point here... (Below threshold)

I think that the point here is that this is the NY Times saying this -- not the Washington Times or the Weekly Standard.

I predict that within six months Michiko Kakutani is looking for work.

I doubt he will get canned ... (Below threshold)

I doubt he will get canned over it. If the book sucked, it sucked. Most people are going to buy it to read what he says about Lewinski and the Impeachment proceedings. Sounds from the interviews that they wont be very satisfied. I am a big Clinton fan, but I dont plan to buy it. I dont expect any bombshells. If there were any they would have been leaked by now. Sounds boring, probably is.




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