Hillary and Bill

The Clintons and the Politics of the Personal

Hillary and Bill

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: Published: January 2016

General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, History > U.S. History, Politics > Political Science

In Hillary and Bill, William H. Chafe boldly argues that the trajectory of the Clintons' political lives can be understood only through the prism of their personal relationship. Inseparable from the day they first met, their personal dynamic has determined their political fates. Hillary was instrumental in Bill's triumphs as Arkansas's governor, and she saved his presidential candidacy in 1992 during the Gennifer Flowers sex scandal. He responded by delegating to her powers that no other First Lady had ever exercised. Chafe's penetrating insights—into subjects such as health care, Kenneth Starr, welfare reform, and the Lewinsky scandal—add texture and depth to our understanding of the Clintons' experience together. Hillary and Bill is the definitive account of the Clintons’ relationship and its far-reaching impact on American political life.
In this new edition, Chafe explores how Hillary adopted a new persona as a U.S. senator, returning to the consensus-oriented reformer she had been before she met Bill. Listening to her constituents and building bridges to Republicans in Congress, she left behind the us-against-them political personality of her White House years. She kept this persona as secretary of state, establishing personal ties with foreign leaders and reaching out to average citizens in the countries she visited. Still, she retained her obsession with her personal privacy and permitted the Clinton Foundation to create potential conflicts of interest with her government responsibilities. The key question, as she approached the 2016 presidential race, was which Hillary would be the presidential candidate—the person who reaches out to others and seeks collaborators or the Hillary who demonizes the opposition and fiercely protects her privacy and self-image.


"William H. Chafe understands, as do too few historians and biographers, that the personal and public lives of political figures cannot be separated. . . . Chafe is quite right to insist that the stories of Bill and Hillary Clinton prove the point." — Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

"Riveting. . . . Chafe sees clearly what we who were there, chronicling the Clintons in real time, missed." — David M. Shribman, Boston Globe

"For any reader seeking to unravel the Byzantine politics of the 1990s, Chafe's book is indispensable."  — William E. Leuchtenburg, author of In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Barack Obama

"For those of us who worked with the Clintons, this book, by one of the nation's best historians, brings a keen eye and fresh insights to the intersection of their personalities and their exercise of power." — David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and adviser to four U.S. presidents

"This is a deeply insightful and warmly empathetic portrait of personal ambition, a complicated marriage, and a powerful political partnership."  — Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman

"A fascinating analysis of how Bill and Hillary Clinton's different family backgrounds and complicated marital history shaped their political fortunes."  — Stephanie Coontz, author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s

"In this mesmerizing account, one of the most astute historians of our era pulls back the curtain on the struggles and passions of the world's most powerful couple." — Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

William H. Chafe is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, Emeritus, at Duke University and former president of the Organization of American Historians. He is the author of numerous books on civil rights, women's history, and politics.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction to the New Edition  1

1. Bill Clinton: The Early Years  5

2. Hillary Rodham: The Early Years  33

3. Oxford and the Draft: A Test of Character  48

4. Hillary and Bill at Yale: Two Destinies Intersect  65

5. The Arkansas Years, Part One: 1973–80  85

6. The Arkansas Years, Part Two: 1980–91  112

7. "There Is a Place Called Hope"  135

8. The First Year  165

9. The Health Care Debacle and the Emergence of Kenneth Starr  205

10. Comeback Number Three  233

11. The Roller Coaster Plummets  268

12. Survival—and a New Beginning  300

13. It's My Turn  313

14. Madame Secretary  329

15. What If?  354

Notes  361

A Note on Sources  387

Acknowledgments  391

Index  395
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc UK & British Commonwealth

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6230-2
Publicity material