Book Reviews

Book Review: The secretary.


Kim Ghattas has managed to write a book that portrays American foreign policy, and her Middle Eastern exposure to what the world’s most powerful country does in that region.

Her insights are very valuable and deserve to be studied by all foreign office employees and policy makers. The State department has 20,000 employees (not counting all the consulates and embassies).

It is huge, works in convoluted ways, and in today’s fast-moving political world, it is cumbersome.

She travelled with Hillary Clinton, during her tenure, well over 450,000 kilometres in the journalist’s “bubble” that covers the State department. These journalists pay for the privileges few mortals enjoy. Everything is organized for them to the extent possible by the State department but they “pay” by being inconvenienced when meals are missed whenever the secretary spends more time meeting dignitaries or during unforeseen circumstances such as delayed departures due to bad weather.

She interviewed the secretary more than 15 times and draws conclusions from those as well as from the travels she undertook with her.

It is undeniable that Hillary Clinton did her very best to improve America’s standing in the world, more specifically in the Middle East. Whether or not she was successful in achieving her objective remains to be seen.

This extremely well researched boo is part biography of Hillary Clinton, part travelogue, and details of American foreign policy. On thing remains clear is that American politicians fail to study history and draw conclusions from successes and failures in land near and far.

K. Ghatta’s asks probing questions about Lebanon and Middle East policies. She knows the region, the mentality of its inhabitants and lived through the recent history of that rich, but unstable troubled part of the world.

She sees the world from two perspectives, which are interesting on several levels – Hillary Clinton as person as a politician, as an ambassador, her work ethics, visions, and how American foreign policy affects the world.

At one point the author reveals how and why Harry Truman decided to back Israel.

Ashe tells the reader that being journalist is not as glamorous as people think.

It is an excellent, well-written book that engages the reader and compels reading page after page to find out how the story evolves.

Highly recommended.

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