Secretary (Ghattas)

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of America
Kim Ghattas, 2013
Henry Holt & Co.
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780805095111

The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, anchored by Ghattas's own perspective and her quest to understand America's place in the world

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? (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Beirut, Lebanon
Education—University of Beirut
Currently—lives in Washington, D.C., USA

Kim Ghattas is a journalist for the BBC and author, currently covering the US State Department. She was born in Beirut, Lebanon, of a Lebanese father of Christian background and a Dutch mother. She has two older sisters. Ghattas attended the American University of Beirut, studying political science. At the same time, she worked as an intern at an English-language newspaper in Beirut.

Later, Ghattas worked for the Financial Times and the BBC from Beirut. After reporting from the Middle East, in early 2008 she moved to Washington, DC to take up her post covering the US State Department. Her work has been published in Time magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post and she appears regularly as a guest on NPR radio shows. (From Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews
Kim Ghattas has written a terrific book—not just our first intimate portrait of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but also a riveting personal story about what it's like to be a journalist, and a Lebanese woman at that, living in the Clinton bubble. Ghattas is very smart about the nuances of American policy and the patient intelligence that is required for creative diplomacy, and she has made it all come alive in compelling, page-turning fashion.
Joe Kline (Time magaizne columnist)

The Secretary is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Hillary Clinton became one of the hardest working and most active secretaries of state in modern American history. Ghattas movingly interweaves Clinton's story with her own as a Lebanese woman. It's hard to read this vivid account and not wonder how Hillary would perform in the Oval Office.
David Ignatius (Washington Post columnist)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton becomes the face of a superpower in this captivating profile. Ghattas, State Department correspondent for the BBC, jetted around the globe with Clinton as she refereed Israeli-Palestinian quarrels, wrangled with Chinese officialdom, smoothed ruffled diplomatic feathers after Wikileaks publicized catty American cables, and strategized over the Arab Spring upheavals. In Ghattas’s vivid portrait, Clinton emerges as a charismatic, tireless woman, magnetic during her trademark town hall meetings with ordinary citizens (cries of “We love you, Hillary” trail her everywhere), candid and forthright in private conversation, but always agonizing over anodyne public statements that will be obsessively parsed for policy shifts. But as the author floats along in Clinton’s exciting, exhausting bubble of pre-eminence, she also examines America’s ongoing centrality in world affairs: while they resent American power, in every country people she encounters expect the United States to magically settle their crises and conflicts. Attuned to that mindset since her childhood in war-torn Lebanon, Ghattas receives in her travels with Clinton an eye-opening education in the complexity and limitations of U.S. foreign policy making. Her perceptive reportage on Clinton’s personal leadership grounds a shrewd analysis of America’s role as the still-indispensable nation. (8-page b&w photo insert.)
Publishers Weekly

[An] engaging look at U.S. diplomacy under Hillary Clinton.... Ghattas presents a close-up look at the touchiest of diplomatic issues in the first Obama administration, from the Arab Spring uprisings to WikiLeaks...a rich portrait of the different perspectives on U.S. power and influence around the world as well as her own personal experiences and ambivalence about the U.S. —Vanessa Bush

An intimate, admiring look at the four-year global travails of the secretary of state from a member of her traveling press corps. A Beirut-born BBC journalist assigned to the U.S. State Department in 2008, Ghattas has closely observed Clinton in her busy, high-profile position as secretary over the last four years. Here, she records her key role in the reshaping of American foreign policy. Ghattas' work is invaluable in revealing the effort behind the headlines.... Ghattas, as a Lebanese woman who keenly felt the American betrayal of her country during the long civil war of 1975 to 1990, comes to a sense of forgiveness and understanding of American might. A personal look at the Secretary's diplomacy via a flexible, pragmatic approach rather than ideology.
Kirkus Reviews

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