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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Polarizing First Lady

Gil Troy

With a new preface by the author

New in paperback: March 2008
xiv, 264 pages, 24 photographs, 5-1⁄2 x 9-1⁄4
Modern First Ladies
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1585-8, $16.95 (t)

Also available in cloth
ISBN 978-0-7006-1488-2, $24.95 (t)

Book cover imageFor most first ladies, their years in the White House are their sole claim to fame. For one—Hillary Rodham Clinton—that tenure was just another step in a remarkable political career. Neither a “hit job” nor a facile tribute, Gil Troy’s lively and refreshingly nonsensational new book provides a revealing look at arguably the most polarizing first lady in history and undoubtedly the most prominent American woman of our time.

Troy, named by History News Network as one of America’s Top 15 Young Historians, measures Clinton’s historical footprint, tracing her activities during the turbulent decade that brought her to national prominence and examining her influence as a key player in her husband’s administration. Covering her attempts to overhaul health care and redefine the first lady as co-president while she tried to cope with her husband’s scandals and impeachment, he recounts how Hillary’s rocky road had a mixed impact on the office, even as her ambitions illuminated the role’s potential.

As the first feminist first lady, Hillary Clinton faced dilemmas typical of modern American women as she tried to be both a family-oriented, devoted wife and a career-focused, independent woman. Troy shows how she did her best to navigate this divide and breaks new ground in taking her seriously as a thinker. Delving into Hillary’s speeches and writings, he uncovers a surprisingly more moderate, even conservative worldview. In fact, he finds some of her positions—such as her outspoken views on abortion—to be authentic expressions of a genuine Puritan/Methodist centrism rather than a mere political ploy.

Offering a mix of praise and censure that elevates to a more sophisticated level debates about her controversial career and presidential aspirations, Troy’s book will enlighten and intrigue Hillary’s passionate critics and staunch defenders alike. It will renew discussions of where she stands in the continuum of modern first ladies—and of where history will ultimately take her. Many of the book’s key themes are effectively underscored by an entertainingly narrated photo essay, with provocative images drawn from the Clinton Presidential Library.

“One of the few balanced studies of Clinton. Worth keeping in mind as the campaigns heat up.”—Library Journal

“An engrossing look at the behind-the-scenes ‘psychodrama’ of the Clinton White House.”—Booklist

“The complex individual shines through Troy’s eloquent rendering. Highly recommended.”—Choice

“A valuable primer on a first lady who is both a cultural icon and a political force. Troy’s portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows how her elasticity as a public figure saved her husband’s presidency and ultimately led her to pursue power in her own right.”—Eleanor Clift, contributing editor, Newsweek 

“A balanced and astute assessment of one of the most complex, polarizing, and compelling political figures of our time—a book that manages to be psychologically revealing without ever sensationalizing.”—Margaret Talbot, author of Gender, Power, and Culture

“The Hillary Clinton that emerges from Troy’s book is not a caricature, but a real person, possessing virtues and flaws, living a life marked by both achievement and failure.”—Alonzo L. Hamby, author of For the Survival of Democracy

“A cogent, clear-eyed, and timely view of the most prominent and, arguably, controversial first lady in modern American history.”—Barbara Kellerman, author of The Political Presidency

GIL TROY, a native of Queens, New York, and professor of history at McGill University, is the author of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons; Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s; and See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate. His commentaries on presidential politics have also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, among other prominent publications.

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