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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

Scritto da Kim Ghattas

Narrato da Kate Reading


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

Scritto da Kim Ghattas

Narrato da Kate Reading

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (14 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
15 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 29, 2013
ISBN:
9781452682181
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

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?
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 29, 2013
ISBN:
9781452682181
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Informazioni sull'autore

Kim Ghattas is an Emmy-award winning journalist and writer who covered the Middle East for twenty years for the BBC and the Financial Times. She has also reported on the U.S State Department and American politics. She has been published in The Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy and is currently a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Her first book, The Secretary, was a New York Times bestseller. Born and raised in Lebanon, she now lives between Beirut and Washington D.C.

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  • (4/5)
    This is simply a fabulous book. Critics may argue that it lacks depth in foreign policy or that it does not provide a detailed biography of Clinton's time as Secretary of State. The book is first off a memoir - a highly personal lens on the 4 years of Clinton's time as Secretary. The writing is best when it is personal - when the author's Lebanese experience comes in conflict with America's actions around the world. The reporting on China and Clinton's trip to Myanmar is also excellent. It is a read when approached with the right expectations.
  • (4/5)
    Kim Ghattas, a BBC Foreign Correspondent who covered the State Department during Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State, grew up very aware of American foreign policy. As a child in war-torn Beirut, the decisions made by the U.S. affected her directly. She brings that perspective and an awareness of the Middle East to this book about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and it caused me to view the U.S. foreign policy through a different light. The book sometimes feels as though it is a loosely-related description of trips to foreign countries. At times, I would have liked more of a cohesive narrative and more analysis. However, the behind-the-scenes detail made it an interesting read.
  • (5/5)
    The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American PowerIn the spirit of full disclosure I have to say that I am an ardent admirer of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Each of them, during their time spend in office have done much for our country. Bill during his years as President of the United States, and Hillary as First Lady, Senator and then as Secretary of State to President Barack Obama haveI was sorry when Hillary decided the time had come for her to leave the office of Secretary of State to spend some time as an ordinary citizen. Although, neither of these individuals can be described as ordinary at any time.I was delighted with the opportunity to read about the days that Hillary Clinton spent traveling in the world in service to her country through the eyes of one of those who were part of the team of journalists who accompanied her, Kim Gjattas. Gjattas was raised in Beirut, the civil war there, was part of her daily life. This gave her a unique perspective during her time as the BBC's State Department correspondent. Her credentials include reporting on her own country's affairs for both American and British newspapers. Then as the BBC's Radio and television correspondent since 2008 . She draws a compelling picture of those days and nights traveling the world in the company of one of the most powerful American women ever to serve her country.We begin this journey with Gjattas on the very first day of Hillary's term as Secretary of State. It seemed as if from those first moments of taking office, Hillary and her team were a whirlwind of traveling the globe and meeting with not only the powerful leaders of countries, but often their families and ordinary women everywhere. Part of her own agenda was that women be recognized across the globe for the important and influential roles they played, whether they were in government or were raising families.Clinton had the advantage of being a well-known figure throughout the world, after her time as First Lady to President Bill Clinton. She was far from reticent even in those days and was certainly a working First Lady, with her own office and staff. This however, was a whole new situation. As Secretary of State of the most powerful nation in the world. She not only had to step into an unfamiliar job and learn it from the inside out quickly, she had to forge a working relationship with a man who was once her opponent in the race for president. But if any two people could do that, it was Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They became quite a team over the four years that they worked together.The effects of WikiLeaks is covered, and the effect it had on Hillary's relationships with leaders across the world. As I watched the news on WikiLeaks, and listened to the news, I was unaware of just how much fallout had occurred that would affect the office held by Hillary Clinton. This informative book helps us to understand that in order to repair some of the damage done, a talented negotiator was needed and Hillary was up to the task.In fact, this book gives us a look at diplomacy at one of the highest levels, as performed by a powerful woman in our own time. I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of Clinton. She has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in American politics and policy.This book was a fascinating and easy read. The author takes us along with her as she spends several years covering a major political figure. This is far from being a dull recounting of the events of the time Clinton spent as Secretary of State. In fact, it was hard to put down. I recommend it, and would call it a 4.5 star read.
  • (5/5)
    I have read a few books about Hillary Clinton, focusing more on her as a first lady so I was excited when this book came out since it would focus on Hillary Clinton Secretary of State. For the first time she is standing on her own two feet and proves that she can outshine her husband.This book is written from the unique perspective of a journalist who travelled in the inner press circle of the Secretary of State. The book is colored with her perspective so the reader not only learns about Hillary Clinton and what happened during those years but also about the writer herself. I actually enjoyed this mixture and made the book ever that much more exciting to read.I absolutely loved this book from the moment I opened it. Kim Ghattas is a fantastic writer and reporter and is able to bring all the details to life for the reader. I really got sucked into this book. Ms. Ghattas did not just focus on the main events and how the Secretary of State handled them, such as her first trip to Japan and China but also focuses on the way Hillary interacted with people and how it was a change from her predecessors. The reader was able to learn what the Secretary of State did during her tenure but also her personality and how she ran her office. The reader also could see how the relationship between the President and the Secretary of State evolved over the years.I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether they are "into" politics or not. It was a great read. It did not drag on as some of these books can. It was an enjoyable read and most importantly, I walked away with a greater view on what Hillary Clinton did as well as her as a person.
  • (4/5)
    The Secretary is part reportage, part personal journey by the author Kim Ghattas. Some of the other reviewers wanted less of Ms. Ghattas's personal reflections on American power. For me, I welcomed the insight that Ms. Ghattas provided as a native of Lebanon who has seen the consequences of American policy up close.The reporting piece of the book is well done. Ghattas has a front-row seat as the BBC's dedicated reporter covering Secretary Hillary Clinton. As such, she gets fantastic access to the many foreign crises that the Secretary of State is called on to manage. I consider myself a fairly informed follower of U.S. foreign policy and regularly read the New York Times, Foreign Policy Magazine and the Economist and have enough of an academic interest to read Foreign Affairs occasionally. That said, I was very struck by the sheer number of issues that confronted the Obama administration during its first term. The world truly does seem to be getting more complicated.Ms. Ghattas does a very good job detailing this complexity and explaining the competing interests that govern U.S. foreign policy. In doing so, Ms. Ghattas paints a very favourable portrait of Secretary Clinton and her capacity to manage the multiple and ever changing issues that she must address. While an interesting story in and of itself, the story also serves to provide the best rejoinder that I have read as to the importance of Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton has been criticized for lacking any overarching foreign policy theory or any singular foreign policy accomplishment. Ms. Ghattas makes a compelling case that this criticism fails to properly account for America's role in the world today. Ms. Ghattas argues that the America is actually transforming itself to be the "indispensable" nature in foreign affairs while recognizing that this can only be accomplished through sustained multilateralism. Secretary Clinton, through dogged effort and personal charm, was the right person to start that change simply because of her personal charisma and the sheer amount of effort required to make other countries believe that America genuinely valued their input and desired their participation in the community of nations.Finally, Ms. Ghattas argument is bolstered by her personal history. Having experienced American intervention in Lebanon first hand, Ms. Ghattas is predisposed to believe that American policy makers are actively debating Lebanon's fate. Instead, she learns that no grand strategies exists and that American foreign policy is often shaped reactively. Moreover, even when a grand plan does exist, Ms. Ghattas illustrates how little ability America has to compel its preferred outcome on the actors involved. All of this experience informs Ms. Ghattas's opinion of Secretary Clinton's performance as Secretary of State.All together, this is a well-written look at American foreign policy from the perspective of an outsider. I think it will be some time before an accurate picture develops of the accomplishments and failings of foreign policy under the Obama administration but this book is an important piece in that analysis.A final note on the early edition I read. There were a lot of typos. While I expect an early edition to need some final proofing, the copy I read had more than what I consider to be standard proofreading issues. Hopefully these are corrected before the book is finalized as it distracts from what is otherwise a compelling story.
  • (3/5)
    In her rush to be one of the first to publish a book about Hillary Clinton's term as Secretary of State Kim Ghattas creates a unique but lacking view into American foreign relations. Ghattas' childhood in Lebanon allows her to view American foreign relations differently than others. This ended up enhancing the book and detracting from it as well. It enhanced it by giving me (an American) a glimpse into how people from other countries really view my country. It detracted from the main point of the book by at points turning into what felt like a therapy session. When I read about government and politics I really want to hear about what happened during heated meetings between leaders of countries and important historical events, I don't want it to turn into a quasi-memoir about the author.As a part of the press corps that follows Hillary Clinton around during her travels Ghattas definitely had an inside look into the inner-workings of Clinton and her advisers. I was interested and fascinated by what Ghattas is able to reveal about the important events that took place while Clinton was Secretary of State. The section that I was most interested in reading was the one about the uprising and revolution in Egypt and the Arab Spring. I remember being absolutely fascinated when it was happening and was glued to my tv watching news coverage of it. I was a bit upset that there were certain events that Ghattas either glossed over or completely left out. One of the major events I would have loved reading more about was the killing of Osama bin Laden. I thought for sure that Ghattas would mention this and show readers it through the eyes of Clinton. That was definitely not the case as it was included in a whole whopping 4 sentence paragraph. Another event that I felt was pretty important and should have been included, especially since Clinton was the Secretary of State, was the bombing of the American embassy in Libya. Instead of rushing to get this book out I feel Ghattas should have included this in the book. It was a tragic event for the State Department and for Clinton herself.Overall I felt this book had its interesting moments but that it definitely needs more work. I would recommend this book to those looking to read about Clinton's time as Secretary of State.[I received this book from a Librarything Early Reviewers giveaway. The content of my review is not affected by that in any way.]
  • (4/5)
    The Secretary by Kim Ghattas is one journalist’s view of traveling with Hillary Clinton during her years as Secretary of State. Kim Ghattas is a journalist for the BBC covering the State Department. For four years she traveled with Hillary Clinton in company of other journalists. She is not originally from England, but rather is from Lebanon. Her initial views of the Secretary were guarded. She seemed to relate much of what she heard and saw to events she had lived through as a child growing up in war-torn Lebanon. As a result much of what Ghattas wrote and felt initially were colored by those perceptions. The book is a chronology of the travel to the many different countries and the interactions of Clinton with the leaders of many nations, usually the prime minister or the actual leader of the country. The book details many of the difficulties encountered both by the Secretary and her traveling cohort in the various nations. One of the constants was the fact of travel itself. Usually many nations in one trip and attempts to broker consensus on particular hot issues of the day was the day-to-day activity. This would entail long days of travel and sometimes less than ideal living circumstances. The author spends a good deal of time describing her background, which enhances understanding of her viewpoint. She also discusses the overall goal of the foreign policy of the Obama/Clinton administration, which was decidedly different from the previous administration. By the end of the book the author has become aware of the drive of the Secretary to enhance the reputation and rebuild the relationships across the world that had foundered in previous years. Through an exhausting four years Kim Ghattas followed Hillary Clinton and grew from being wary of the new Secretary and her way of doing business to being an admirer because the Secretary had a clear goal for her time as Secretary and that was to have the United States seen as a catalyst for change in a changing world. Not that the United States is a force that can change all the wrongs in the world. I enjoyed reading this book because it showed the clear thinking needed in a Secretary of State and the hewing to a blueprint for our foreign policy. Written by a journalist the read was fairly clear though the need for proofreading was sadly evident from the beginning. I give this book 3.5 stars.
  • (5/5)
    The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the heart of American Power by Kim Ghattas is a book I long awaited, having a political science background, I have being reading about the Secretaries of State for quite some time now and this book did not disappoint me. Ghattas has a rather unique perspective as she is a BBC reporter, in the new corps traveling with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, but she was raised in war torn Lebanon, which enables Ghattas to offer the reader a much broader view of the duties of the Secretary of State as well as a view of the United States and it’s policies from a non-American viewpoint. I would not hesitate to recommend The Secretary to anyone interested in history, politics, or simply curious about what the Secretary of State actually does. I will be reading more books about Mrs. Clinton, to get a more balanced look into this remarkable time in American history.
  • (5/5)
    Kim Ghattas tells several stories in this account of her travels with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Ghattas brings a unique perspective to her narrative – she’s a Lebanese native and lived as a child lived through the uncertainties and terror of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990.Almost 20 years later she is assigned to cover the State Department for BBC and has a direct line the Arab Spring and our efforts to “manage” another crisis in the Middle East. The travel for the Secretary, aides, and press corps is staggering; not only the miles but the shear number of trips to every corner of the world. Ms. Ghattas provides an even-handed (although an admiring) view of Clinton. It is helpful in understanding both the relationship between Clinton and Obama and Clinton’s ability to represent the US forcefully but diplomatically. Ghattas discusses the cable dumping through WikiLeaks and concludes that the primary theme of the 250,000+ cables is that “everybody still relied on the United States to sort out their problems.” How the cables conflicted with what some of our world leaders were saying in public is a revelation as to the difficulty foreign relations are in the 21st century. We should be glad that Hillary Clinton was in charge of foreign policy over the last four years.
  • (5/5)
    Well written in an engaging manner, this book allows one a glimpse into the incredibly exhausting, incredibly exhilarating, and incredibly powerful life the Secretary of State leads. Of course, this is Hillary, but one can extrapolate to any of the other modern date diplomats our country has fielded.Ghattas's detailed account gives us more than a cursory glance. We learn to distinguish between the white notebook and the super top-secret for-your-eyes-only one. The author's point-of-view adds to the dimensions of this book, also. Born of a Dutch mother and a Lebanese father, growing up in Beirut during the war, she brings a fresh look to American diplomacy. I'm not sure any other correspondent could have brought us along on this particular journey. And truly, it is an amazing journey she takes us on--great read, too!The copy I read was definitely not ready for prime time yet. Someone must have locked up the comma cabinet, and some sentences will keep me up at night to decipher. But I trust Time Books to get it ready on-time.
  • (3/5)
    Kim Ghattas provides an intriguing and comprehensive look into Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State and varied statesmen and royalty she has contact with. She provides a thoughtful commentary on the varied trips, with insight brought from her own life while growing up in Lebanon. It is nice to have a behind the scenes look at what the traveling group of reporters face, from the varied travel documents to running low on food on an extended trip. A must read for anyone interested in politics and world affairs.Free review copy.
  • (5/5)
    THE SECRETARY, A JOURNEY WITH HILLARY CLINTON FROM BEIRUT TO THE HEART OF AMERICAN POWER by Kim Ghattas was a difficult book to review. My first draft ran almost four pages. There was so much interesting material and so much that I wanted to say about it. But that review would have discouraged readers, so this is my abbreviated final draft.Ghattas does an excellent job not only explaining the situations Hillary encountered but also how the US is viewed by many other countries, how our image and abilities are changing, and what role Hillary has played in that change. The book will be out in March and I highly recommend it.Kim Ghattas was born in Lebanon in 1977 and grew up during its Civil War. At the time she wrote THE SECRETARY, she was a BBC reporter covering the US State Department. As such, she received the daily briefings and traveled with Hillary Clinton on all her overseas assignments. It is the story of how Hillary performed her duties as well as how Ghattas interpreted the events based on her personal experiences and how she came to understand why the US acted as it did.When President Obama came into office, people in many countries of the world had a very low opinion of the US, primarily because of actions and inactions during the previous administration. “In 2000, 75 percent of Indonesians had a positive view of America....By 2007, only 29 percent” did. America, the only remaining superpower, was seen in many ways: a bully, all-powerful, controlling, a financier, a miracle-worker and a supporter of despots. People thought that America was behind everything that happened in their country (especially bad things) and that their country was the most important country in the world and at the top of America’s agenda. Both views were faulty. They expected America to take care of them (especially financially) and protect them, yet at the same time complained that America was behind every action of their own government that they did not like. Many countries were glad to take the money, often padding the pockets of only a few well-connected people, but resented having to do anything to justify the support income. Ghattas wrote, “One of the reasons countries and people were so often disappointed in the US was an unrealistic expectation of what the US should and could do. Governments everywhere that instinctively and narrowly pursued their national interest somehow expected the United States to suspend the pursuit of its own interest to please them.”Hillary desire to meet with the people of the country, not just the politicians was a break from her predecessors. She held town hall meetings wherever she went, talking to the public and answering their questions. This made for some extremely long days for her, her staff, and the press corps. She also worked to establish connections with government leaders who were upset with the US as well as with those who had no dealings. She had met several as First Lady and used that connection to help reestablish good working relationships. She also used her position to push for human rights and women’s rights.Her first trip was to Japan and Asia where China’s rising position in the world was a main topic and is highlighted in THE SECRETARY. Another area covered is the WikiLeaks scandal in which copies of secret (but not classified) e-mails were hacked and published. This caused a fear that people would be less forthcoming in the future. Many world leaders were upset about how they were described by the e-mail writers but others were impressed that they were important enough to be mentioned. A big problem Hillary faced was that Americans and their government thought there was a solution for every problem, we knew what it was, it could be accomplished quickly, cheaply, and we could leave. Too often, there was no back-up plan if things did not work out. “The minute US troops set foot in a country, they started looking for the exit....to get out: missions were ill-prepared and ill-defined. Success, too, was ill-defined.”In explaining the role of the State Department and Hillary’s position, the book goes into a lot of detail about Japan, China, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Libya, the Palestinian territories, the Arab Spring, and visiting Burma. Hillary’s relationship with President Obama evolved over the years. He had to work with someone who was as popular as he. At first, he was surrounded by his trusted circle. A good soldier, she gave her views and advice, getting more and more confident. After two years, he sought her advice before making decisions. She understood how to work with other cultures. It was necessary to establish a relationship before dealing with issues. People in other countries were very familiar with American office holders because their decisions affected their everyday lives. They heard their country mentioned reports of press briefings in their local news, not realizing it was because someone asked a question, not that the government brought it up. Their leaders would try to build political capital by looking tough and standing up to America.Americans are “upfront, efficient, result-driven people who expected quick turnarounds and believe every problem had a solution.” “Eventually, before anything was really fixed...and sometimes before the real problems had even started, Americans had moved one, they had other problems to attend to. People on the ground felt invaded, abandoned, and betrayed, all at once. They saw America as an impatient, fickle friend. It didn’t matter how much money the United States had invested, wasted, spent; it didn’t matter how many US troops had died.” “They wanted more.” Hillary noted, “We don’t have any magic wands that we can wave.”The people in other countries were very familiar with the US and thought we knew all about them as well. “The more a country felt its fate was impacted by the United States, the more detailed their knowledge was. Tribal leaders in Afghanistan and Palestinian police officers knew the names of American congressmen because they had blocked or approved aid bills that impacted their towns.”Seeing stories while in Pakistan that America was “supporting the Pakistani Taliban in a bid to weaken Pakistan and bolster India,” Ghattas notes that “In the Middle East, the devising of conspiracy theories is an art form, but rarely before had I seen this level of unsubstantiated reporting. Even by Middle East Standards, the Pakistani media was shameless.” Yet she doesn’t make the same distinction when discussing Israel and the Palestinians. She places a lot of blame on Israel and cites its deficiencies, but does not state what the Palestinians have or have not done to bring a peaceful solution nor does she mention all the lies against Israel spread by Arab and Muslim states.Instead of going it alone, the US worked to involve other countries in decisions and actions. While the US was accused of holding back, it was often working behind the scene and letting others take the credit, especially to avoid anti-American sentiment from derailing the work of the UN or other groups.European countries often looked down on the US and were not upset when it had problems until they realized what would happen to their own economies if the US economy declined.Ghattas notes “Clinton’s key contribution is...repositioning American as a leader in a changed world, a palatable global chairman of the board who can help navigate the coming crises, from climate change to further economic turmoil to demographic explosions.“America, as powerful and strong as we are, cannot remake societies. We can help liberate them, like Libya, but we cannot remake them. That must come from within and there needs to be a reformation in thinking amongst people in countries that have been downtrodden, oppressed, violence-ridden, and there needs to be higher expectations and demands placed on leaders who should be reconcilers, not dividers.”“There will be times when not all our interests align. We work to align them, but that is just reality.”I received this book as an early reviewer from LibraryThing.
  • (4/5)
    Fresh first person narrative of American foreign policy in the making, from 2008-2011. Written by BBC's embedded correspondent with the American State Department. What makes the read so compelling is the fact that Ghattas grew up in Lebanon during the civil war and presents a decidedly outsider perspective to America's role in the world. Recommended for all who follow international issues closely, regardless of their political persuasions or feelings about Hillary.
  • (5/5)
    There are at least two aspects of this book by BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas that make it particularly interesting. It’s almost as if two books coexist between its covers, one written by an insider and the other by an outsider. Ghattas, born in Lebanon, covered the US State Department while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, so The Secretary has a well-informed insider view of Clinton and the way she works. Ghattas spent a lot of time traveling around the world with Clinton and her staff, and what Ghattas was able to observe eventually convinced her that Hillary’s intelligent and engaging style of diplomacy was re-positioning America’s leadership role in ways that will help it stay effective and relevant in our rapidly changing world. Ghattas witnessed major world events firsthand and her behind the scenes perspective make a fascinating history of the last few years. Pivotal developments she recounts in this book include the Arab Spring, the opening of Burma, the release of the Wikileaks documents, and the fallout from the Japanese earthquake. The September 11, 2012 attack on the US embassy in Libya occurred too late to be included, but it’s not the events themselves that give structure to The Secretary, it’s Ghattas’s status as an outsider. Ghattas grew up in war torn Beirut and her evolving outsider observations, insights, and opinions about America’s superpower status and what America could and should do in the world drive the narrative and make The Secretary much more fascinating than even a portrait of Hillary Clinton could be.
  • (4/5)
    A remarkably personal and candid account of Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, as witnessed by the BBC's State Department correspondent, Kim Ghattas. Ghattas provides a really interesting look from the inside at the logistical nightmare that Clinton's travel schedule entailed, and at the ways in which the press interacts with State Department officials, other journalists, and the local people at each stop along the way. Filled with fascinating details and anecdotes.This book is also the story of Ghattas' own views on American foreign policy and diplomatic efforts, shaped by her own life experiences growing up in Lebanon. Interspersed with the general account of her time covering Secretary Clinton, this all makes for a neat read.