Books Paint Critical Portraits of Clinton





Two new books on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York offer fresh and often critical portraits of the Democratic presidential candidate that depict a tortured relationship with her husband and her past and challenge the image she has presented on the campaign trail.

The Hillary Clinton who emerges from the pages of the books comes across as a complicated, sometimes compromised figure who tolerated Bill Clinton's brazen infidelity, pursued her policy and political goals with methodical drive, and occasionally skirted along the edge of the truth along the way. The books portray her as alternately brilliant and controlling, ambitious and victimized.

The Clinton campaign has nervously awaited publication of the books for fear they would include a bombshell revelation or, at the very least, revive memories of less-savory moments in the couple's rise to power. The books, both by longtime journalists and both obtained by The Washington Post yesterday, include a number of assertions and anecdotes that could confront her campaign with unwelcome questions.

"A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Carl Bernstein, reports that Clinton as first lady was terrified she would be prosecuted, took over her own legal and political defense, and decided not to be forthcoming with investigators because she was convinced she was unfairly targeted. While in Arkansas, according to Bernstein, she personally interviewed one woman alleged to have had an affair with her husband, contemplated divorce and thought about running for governor out of anger at her husband's indiscretions.

"Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr., reports that during her husband's 1992 campaign, a team she oversaw hired a private investigator to undermine Gennifer Flowers "until she is destroyed." Flowers had said publicly that she had an affair with Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas.



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