I have settled on this idea that if I am to read non-fiction that I am best to listen to them on audiobook. I seem to get awfully distracted if I read them in print, either because they are too boring in parts or because I become so invested in what the author is saying that I end up pondering my own life as it relates to the topic. It seems also, that it is easier to pay attention to non-fiction audiobooks than to fictional ones, because the non-fiction relies more on the content than on the narration. There is less need for any sort of dramatic interpretation of the text on the part of the narrator.
My Life – Bill Clinton, copyright 2004.
Read by: Bill Clinton
Length: 6hrs 09mins 20secs
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New
Now, please tell me, how is it that a man whose personal life has been so thoroughly exposed can require a thousand pages to write his autobiography? I have long been a fan of Bill Clinton, but I had absolutely no intention of slogging my way through the former president’s massive memoir in print. Listening to the very much abridged version on audiobook, however, was a real treat. Hearing Clinton speak so openly about his trials and triumphs, both professional and personal was somewhat moving.
I had not been previously aware that Clinton wasn’t born a Clinton, but rather a Blythe. Bill’s father was killed in a car accident prior to his birth and he was later adopted by Roger Clinton, the owner of a car dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Clinton tells of his childhood growing up in an environment rife with domestic abuse. I find it incredible that a person can ascend to the highest office in his country from such simple and stressful beginnings. He goes on to tell of Whitewater and his time as Governor of Arkansas, but most of the audio presentation, obviously, I suppose, details his years in the White House. Speaking honestly about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinski, Clinton details the witch hunt by Republicans that shadowed him through both his terms as President; a witch hunt that has so often left him seen, in the eyes of many Americans, as nothing more than a philanderer.
I found it sad that such an important presidency had to be overshadowed by such menial misadventures. During the Clinton Administration, the world saw far uglier things that Monica Lewinski’s hair or Paula Jones face. The Middle-East peace process and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the war in the Balkans, the rising threat of terrorism against the United States, the Oklahoma City Bombings, the introduction of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell and an unprecedented budget crisis were just some of the issues with which Clinton was forced to contend.
One of the things that has always struck me about Clinton is his humble nature and no-nonsense demeanour. That trademark personality is ever present in Clinton’s reading of My Life. How he maintained such a terrific outlook on life and kept so upbeat after such a tumultuous and stressful life is beyond my comprehension. Clearly the stress has taken its toll on the man. Not yet sixty-five, Clinton could pass for someone twenty years his senior.
While I have no doubt that listening to My Life is far more preferable to reading it, I didn’t think the audio was as well done as it could have been. There were many areas where I felt either too much information was left out or too much information was left in, leaving me with an unsatisfied feeling on many of the topics he covered. The editing was also quite poor; there were numerous instances in which the editing of the audio was grotesquely obvious. Overall, I think for anyone who isn’t a fan of the former President, this is not likely to be an over interesting or stimulating listen.
RATING: Not Baaaaaaahd