Living History

This article is about Hillary Clinton's autobiography. For the article on historical reenactment, see Living history.
Living History
Author Hillary Rodham Clinton
Language English
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
June 9, 2003
Media type Hardcover
Pages 562
ISBN 978-0-7432-2224-2
OCLC 52343577
973.929/092 B 22
LC Class E887.C55 A3 2003b
Preceded by An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History (2000)
Followed by Hard Choices (2014)

Living History is a 2003 memoir by Hillary Rodham Clinton at which time she was a sitting Senator from New York.

Background and writing

In December 2000, Simon & Schuster agreed to pay Clinton a reported $8 million advance for what became Living History—a near-record figure to an author for an advance at that time.[1] Critics charged that the book deal, coming soon after her election to the U.S. Senate, but before being sworn into office, was not in adherence to the ethical standards required for members of the U.S. Senate.[2] However, in February 2001, the Senate Ethics Committee gave Clinton approval for the deal.[3]

Clinton reportedly used three ghostwriters for Living History, veteran ghostwriter Maryanne Vollers, speechwriter Alison Muscatine, and researcher Ruby Shamir.[4] Muscatine later related how the three would meet at Clinton's house early in the morning before she left for the Capitol building, do a day's worth of writing, and then meet again after midnight at Clinton's for the senator to edit the work until three o'clock in the morning.[5] Clinton's acknowledgment section stated: "This book may not have taken a village to write, but it certainly took a superb team ... The smartest decision I made was to ask Lissa Muscatine, Maryanne Vollers and Ruby Shamir to spend two years of their lives working with me. Lissa [was] responsible for many of the words in my speeches as First Lady and in this book ... Maryanne [has] the rare gift of understanding how to help another's voice emerge ... Ruby [had the job of] amassing, reviewing and synthesizing millions of words written about me."[6] However, the three women did not receive co-writing credit on the book's cover. This is not unusual for political autobiographies, but in the same period some other political figures were given co-writing credit, as for instance fellow Senator John Edwards gave to writer John Auchard on his book Four Trials and fellow Senator John McCain gave to administrative assistant Mark Salter on his books Faith of My Fathers, Worth the Fighting For, Why Courage Matters, and Character Is Destiny.

Critical and commercial reception

Reviews of Living History were mixed,[7] with a typical evaluation commending the chapters describing her early life, decrying the overly lengthy later treatments of relatively mundane events as First Lady, and criticizing the lack of candor in the sections covering controversial episodes, including those surrounding her husband and the Lewinsky scandal.[8] Observers later noted the difference in how Clinton portrayed her upbringing and Carl Bernstein's biographical take on her demanding father.[5]

The book sold more than one million copies in the first month following publication;[9] its sales during its first week of availability set a record for a non-fiction book.[10] The success of the book surprised many in the publishing industry, who thought Simon & Schuster had overpaid for the work.[11] It also surprised pundits who had doubted her selling power, including CNN's Tucker Carlson, who had said, "If they sell a million copies of this book, I'll eat my shoes and my tie. I will."[9] (Once past the million mark, Clinton appeared on Carlson's show to present him with a shoe-shaped chocolate cake.[9]) Clinton's energetic promotion of the book, which included signing an estimated 20,000 copies (causing her to require ice and wrist support treatments), was credited for part of the success.[11] By 2007, she had earned over $10 million from the book.[12]

Audio recording

Clinton's audio recording of Living History earned her a Grammy nomination in the Best Spoken Word Album category in 2003.[13]

Paperback edition

A paperback edition was released in April 2004 with an additional short afterword in which Clinton described her experiences in doing book signing events.[14]


  1. David D. Kirkpatrick (2000-12-16). "Hillary Clinton Book Advance, $8 Million, Is Near Record". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  2. Anthony York (2000-12-19). "Hillary's book deal blues". Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  3. "Hillary Deal Clears Ethics Panel". CBS News. Associated Press. 2001-02-15. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  4. Charles Paul Freund (2003-06-17). "Living Hillary". Reason. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  5. 1 2 Rachael Combe (2012-04-05). "At the Pinnacle of Hillary Clinton's Career". Elle. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  6. Living History, p. 529.
  7. Sean Loughlin (2003-07-09). "Hillary Clinton has sweet revenge". Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  8. Hilary Hammell (Spring 2004). "Hillary's Turn". Yale Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  9. 1 2 3 Michael Wilson (2003-07-10). "Senator Clinton Offers a Cure For Foot-in-Mouth Disease". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  10. Deirdre Donahue (2003-06-17). "Clinton memoir tops Best-Selling Books list". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  11. 1 2 David D. Kirkpatrick (2003-07-26). "Author Clinton Shakes Many Hands and Sells Many Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  12. "Clintons' earnings exceed $100m". BBC News. 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  13. "Gorbachev and Clinton win Grammy". BBC News. 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  14. "Hillary Clinton writes new afterword for paperback of 'Living History'". USA Today. Associated Press. 2004-04-06. Retrieved 2007-04-08.
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