Not Like the Rest of Us

Linda Colley looks at two books about Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the London Review of Books:

Hillary_clintonHillary Clinton is manifestly a beneficiary and exemplar of a massive, historically recent and still ongoing transformation. ‘I represented a fundamental change in the way women functioned in our society,’ she wrote in Living History (2003); and, at one level, her life has indeed been a succession of hard-won firsts, and of admirable striving against prejudice, condescension and limited expectations. Yet some of her responses, and some of the circumstances of her career, have been traditional and backward-looking.

She was born in 1947 in Chicago. Her father, Hugh Rodham, was a dour, mean and staunchly Republican small businessman. Her mother, Dorothy, was mildly a Democrat and a suppressed, efficient housewife. Hillary’s upbringing in the suburb of Park Ridge seems to have been almost as close, insular and parsimonious as the future Margaret Thatcher’s in Grantham. Both girls, though, were afforded similar avenues of escape. Like Thatcher, Hillary Clinton was brought up in Methodism, with its stress on action, seriousness and good works. She was also – again like Thatcher – permitted a first-class education.

More here.