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

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

Kim Ghattas

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1250044065

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. 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?

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from a trip to Michigan. Mubarak had included a special message for him. “It is shameful and I will not, nor will I ever, accept to hear foreign dictations, whatever the source might be or whatever the context it came in.” What on earth was going on? That evening, the White House sent out a written statement by President Obama. “The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful, or sufficient … We

checked in regularly with the White House, relaying the latest to his boss. The back of the plane was packed with a record twenty-one journalists. SAM hadn’t seen such a large press contingent since Madeleine Albright had traveled to Pyongyang in November 2000. DS agents and officials had been sent ahead to the different stops on commercial flights to make room for the journalists who would record the historic visit of the American secretary of state to post-Mubarak Egypt. When we landed in

be fit for the next day. Her hair was up, her makeup removed for the evening, her contact lenses replaced by her glasses. She was relaxed, comfortable, and funny, holding court for over an hour. * * * The next morning we readied for our visit to the presidential palace in Nay Pyi Taw, Abode of Kings, the country’s new capital, a brand-new city with twenty-lane-wide streets. There was a street for hotels, one for restaurants, a section for government buildings, another for housing of government

300,000 miles with Clinton around the world and interviewing her more than fifteen times, I had a new understanding of the United States and of the woman who had given me a ride home on her plane in the spring of 2009. By now, America and Hillary Clinton had blended into one for me. No longer a politician, but the face—and the heart—of American power. Clinton’s willingness to answer any question, to explain what she was thinking and why the United States was doing what it was doing, whether on

trying to come up with some smart comment about the state of world affairs. Instead, I turned around, looked up, and said, “Madame Secretary, when I was growing up in Lebanon during the civil war, I never for a second imagined I would one day fly back to Lebanon on the plane of the American secretary of state.” I blurted it out because it neatly summarized the situation and all my emotions and because obviously it was true. As a kid I’d had my share of wild dreams about my future, but SAM and

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