Like another reviewer, I was contacted by author Sheldon Filger and invited to read and review "Hillary Clinton Nude." This is a valuable addition to the shelf of books about HRC. While it has a number of significant weaknesses, this volume also has significant strengths. It's up to the individual reader to decide how best to balance the two.
Perhaps paradoxically, "Hillary Clinton Nude" is both passionate and dispassionate: passionate in the strength of the language, in the author's commitment to his principles and beliefs, and in his conviction that the election of President Hillary Rodham Clinton would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States. At the same time, though, Filger is dispassionate in that he -- unlike many other writers on HRC -- is not a member of the fabled "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy." In fact, the vituperation Filger directs at Hillary is rivaled only by the scorn he directs at George W. Bush. "Hillary Clinton Nude" cannot, therefore, be dismissed as a GOP hit-piece or a brief on behalf of some other, competing, presidential candidate.
The author makes a persuasive case that lacking any demonstrable skills, training, opinions, or even basic understanding of the vital issues of economics and international relations, the only thing HRC can build a presidential campaign on is nostalgia for her husband's years in office. As Slick Willie's most attentive student, Hillary is mastering, Filger argues, the Clintonian Method of obfuscation, name-calling, smoke-and-mirrors, and (especially) a highly selective use of history, including but not limited to outright lies about facts, situations, and people.
Sheldon Filger is committed to setting the record straight, and so devotes considerable ink to laying out the facts about half-forgotten Clintonian scandals like the White House travel office firings, Hillary's commodities-futures windfall, Pardongate, and of course, Monica and impeachment. Of course, Filger thereby leaves himself open to the Clinton-defenders' time-tested charge that he is "obsessing over old news" while HRC herself is focused on the future. Given Filger's thesis of the importance of Clinton-nostalgia to HRC's own presidential hopes, however, I think he's done exactly the right thing.
As I said, however, this book also has a number of weaknesses. Some of them, I admit, are matters of taste. But there are substantive omissions as well.
For one thing, Filger's prose is, if not purple, certainly redolent of lavender: "Given the constellation of storm clouds gathering on the horizon of the new century, having a mediocre and politically ambitious megalomaniac figure making the key decisions of state is an alignment with catastrophe. It is also a rash gamble with history. If, indeed, the contemporary world resembles the apocalyptic dynamics that existed in the summer of 1914, then the admixture of nuclear armaments portents [sic] a cataclysm that will be vastly more devastating to humanity" (p. 179).
As another matter of taste, I wasn't thrilled by the cover illustration by Molly Crabapple. It makes it too easy for critics to dismiss the whole book as an unattractive hit piece while ignoring the substance within. Certainly, I'm not going to leave this just sitting around on my desk at work.
Among the substantive topics Filger doesn't address, one key one is Hillary's alleged "move to the center" in the Senate. It seems obvious that this is part of Clinton's decades-long effort to disguise her true radicalism, but it will also be a centerpiece of her presidential campaign. A discussion of this question would seem to be in order.
Most fundamentally, I did not come away from this book with a clear idea of whether Filger believes that, deep down in her soul, Hillary really *believes* in anything more than her own ambition. For the vital distinction, I've always believed, between Pudge and Ruffles (wish I could remember who coined those nicknames) is that whereas he is an opportunist with no firm beliefs, Hillary is a true ideological warrior.
Other writers, from Barbara Olsen to R.E. Tyrrell, have done great work tracing Hillary's growth as what Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn described as a "Christian Social Romantic." In this understanding, HRC's Methodist upbringing was filtered through the tactical genius of Saul Alinsky to create a person driven by a true spiritual fanaticism. I think this is the only real explanation for HRC's distinctive drive, her determination not just to confront, but ultimately to destroy, anyone who disagrees with her or opposes her utopian vision: she sees them, in a very real sense, as fundamentally, theologically, evil. I believe that this is the key to understanding Hillary Clinton. I'm not sure, though, whether Sheldon Filger agrees.
Finally, I need to point out that this book lacks footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, and index. Clearly a lot of research went into preparing this, but it is impossible for a reader to track the author's sources.
This is a quite long review because I appreciate the author's request for my opinion of his work. What Sheldon Filger has produced is a strong, well-argued, and unquestionably important book. With some work on what I consider the book's shortcomings, a second edition could easily warrant four or even five stars.
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Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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"Hillary Clinton Nude: Naked Ambition, Hillary Clinton And America's Demise" is a searing exploration of the most controversial politician in America. Stripping away the veils of imagery which mask the imperfections of Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Hillary Clinton Nude" presents a non-partisan yet passionate case against a second Clinton presidency. Author Sheldon Filger has written a bombshell of a political book, conveying a warning to the American people of the dire risks to the nation's continuity should the former First Lady succeed in fulfilling her ultimate political ambition. More than just another Hillary Clinton book, "Hillary Clinton Nude" is a sobering commentary on the state of American politics in the new century, and the influence of money, image making and celebrity power in the debasement of meaningful political discussion in the United States. Democrats, Republicans and independent voters will discover much to reflect on in this incisive and revealing book. The 2008 presidential election may be among the most decisive in American history. "Hillary Clinton Nude" demonstrates with thundering impact why giving the White House back to the Clinton dynasty can only bring calamity to the nation.