Letters and Politics

How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk; Memoir of a Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator

With Mark Landler, longtime journalist at the New York Times and author of the book Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power.

Then, Eric Fair, an Army veteran who worked in Iraq as a contract interrogator in 2004, on his new memoir Consequence.

About Alter Egos: 

The deeply reported story of two supremely ambitious figures, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—archrivals who became partners for a time, trailblazers who share a common sense of their historic destiny but hold very different beliefs about how to project American power
In Alter Egos, veteran New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler takes us inside the fraught and fascinating relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—a relationship that has framed the nation’s great debates over war and peace for the past eight years.

In the annals of American statecraft, theirs was a most unlikely alliance. Clinton, daughter of an anticommunist father, was raised in the Republican suburbs of Chicago in the aftermath of World War II, nourishing an unshakable belief in the United States as a force for good in distant lands. Obama, an itinerant child of the 1970s, was raised by a single mother in Indonesia and Hawaii, suspended between worlds and a witness to the less savory side of Uncle Sam’s influence abroad. Clinton and Obama would later come to embody competing visions of America’s role in the world: his, restrained, inward-looking, painfully aware of limits; hers, hard-edged, pragmatic, unabashedly old-fashioned.

Spanning the arc of Obama’s two terms, Alter Egos goes beyond the speeches and press conferences to the Oval Office huddles and South Lawn strolls, where Obama and Clinton pressed their views. It follows their evolution from bitter rivals to wary partners, and then to something resembling rivals again, as Clinton defined herself anew and distanced herself from her old boss. In the process, it counters the narrative that, during her years as secretary of state, there was no daylight between them, that the wounds of the 2008 campaign had been entirely healed.

The president and his chief diplomat parted company over some of the biggest issues of the day: how quickly to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; whether to arm the rebels in Syria; how to respond to the upheaval in Egypt; and whether to trust the Russians. In Landler’s gripping account, we venture inside the Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, watch Obama and Clinton work in tandem to salvage a conference on climate change in Copenhagen, and uncover the secret history of their nuclear diplomacy with Iran—a story with a host of fresh disclosures.

With the grand sweep of history and the pointillist detail of an account based on insider access—the book draws on exclusive interviews with more than one hundred senior administration officials, foreign diplomats, and friends of Obama and Clinton—Mark Landler offers the definitive account of a complex, profoundly important relationship. As Barack Obama prepares to relinquish the presidency, and Hillary Clinton makes perhaps her last bid for it, how both regard American power is a central question of our time.

About Consequence: 

Consequence is the story of Eric Fair, a kid who grew up in the shadows of crumbling Bethlehem Steel plants nurturing a strong faith and a belief that he was called to serve his country. It is a story of a man who chases his own demons from Egypt, where he served as an Army translator, to a detention center in Iraq, to seminary at Princeton, and eventually, to a heart transplant ward at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2004, after several months as an interrogator with a private contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair’s nightmares take new forms: first, there had been the shrinking dreams; now the liquid dreams begin. By the time he leaves Iraq after that first deployment (he will return), Fair will have participated in or witnessed a variety of aggressive interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, diet manipulation, exposure, and isolation. Years later, his health and marriage crumbling, haunted by the role he played in what we now know as “enhanced interrogation,” it is Fair’s desire to speak out that becomes a key to his survival. Spare and haunting, Eric Fair’s memoir is both a brave, unrelenting confession and a book that questions the very depths of who he, and we as a country, have become.

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