Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says that she’s still not quite sure why her memoirs, “Living History,” sold so well.
In a four-page afterword to the paperback edition, which comes out April 19, the former first lady lists a few possibilities.
“I knew that some readers just wanted to see how I would explain the personal challenges I had faced,” she writes. “Apparently, a few wanted a signed copy to sell on eBay. Others were eager to see me in the flesh and decide for themselves whether or not I was a normal human being.”
Clinton received $8 million from Simon & Schuster to write “Living History” and didn’t take long to earn back her advance. Nearly 1.7 million copies of the hardcover are in print and a 525,000 first printing is planned for the paperback.
Her afterword is both earnest and lighthearted, an author’s reflections and a politician’s commentary.
She accuses the Bush administration of hostility to the middle class, and says that efforts to get along with her opponents, “including a few who led the charge for my husband’s impeachment,” have often been defeated by “ideology and partisanship.”
Clinton toured five countries for the book and signed copies until her hands became swollen, leading to a “newfound appreciation for ice packs and hand braces.” By tour’s end, her signature resembled “the tracks of a confused chicken.”
She became convinced that her “life, though lived in the spotlight and blessed with greater opportunities, echoed the experiences of millions of other Americans.” Some readers, however, had other agendas.
Clinton writes of being approached by two long-haired, bearded men, “looking like characters from ‘Lord of the Rings,”’ who wanted her to join their campaign to “let men look as God intended.” She recalls a man who handed her a business card with the handwritten inscription, “If you’re ever single, give me a call.”
Lines were long and one young fan entertained the crowd by playing the violin. Another time, Clinton looked up and saw her grinning daughter, Chelsea, waiting her turn for a signed book.
At one stop, “Living History” was upstaged by an even greater publishing phenomenon. Clinton describes a night last summer when she was signing copies, only to have hundreds of kids rush into the store, “not to see me, but to camp out until midnight to snatch up the first copies of the new Harry Potter.”