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by Carl Bernstein

Carl Bernstein's stunning portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows the true trajectory of an astonishing life and career. From a staunchly Republican household and apparently idyllic Midwestern girlhood - her disciplinarian father here revealed as harsher than she has acknowledged - we see the shaping of a brilliant girl whose curiosity was fueled by dedicated teachers, by exposure to Martin Luther King Jr., by the ferment of the 1960s, and, above all, by a desire to change the world. During her student years, as a Republican turned Democrat, Hillary thrived in the new sky's-the-limit freedom for women.

She was already perceived as a spokeswoman for her generation, her commencement speech celebrated in Life magazine. Then, at Yale Law School, she met and fell in love with Bill Clinton, cancelling her own dreams to tie her fortunes to his. Bernstein clarifies the often amazing dynamic of their marriage, showing the extent to which Hillary was instrumental in the triumphs and troubles of Bill Clinton's governorship and presidency.

He charts both her political acumen and her blind spots - especially her suspicion and mishandling of the press and her overt hostility to the opposition that clouded her entry into Washington. He untangles her relationship to the great controversies of Whitewater, Troopergate and Travelgate. And then, in the emotional and political chaos of the Lewinsky affair we see Hillary standing by her husband -evoking a rising wave of sympathy from a public previously cool to her and in effect, Bernstein argues, saving his presidency.

It helps carry her into the Senate, where she applies the political lessons she has learned. Her time has come. As she decides to run for President, with her husband now her valued aide, this self-described 'mind-conservative and heart liberal' has one more chance to fulfill her long-deferred ambitions.

Bernstein has interviewed some two hundred of her colleagues, friends and enemies and was given unique access to the candid record of the 1992 presidential campaign kept by Hillary's best friend, Diane Blair. Marshalling all the skills and energy that propelled his history-making Pulitzer prize-winning coverage of Watergate, he gives us a detailed, sophisticated, comprehensive and revealing account of the complex human being and political meteor who has already helped define one presidency and may well become the woman in charge of another.