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My Life is a 2004 autobiography written by former President of the United States Bill Clinton, who left office on January 20, 2001. It was released on June 22, 2004, 17 days after former president, Ronald Reagan, died. The book was published by the Knopf Publishing Group; the book sold in excess of 2,250,000 copies. He had received what was at the time the world's highest book advance fee, believed to have been worth US$12 million; at the announcement of media personality Oprah Winfrey's future weight loss book, it was said that her undisclosed advance fee had broken this record. In April 2008, the Clintons' tax records confirmed that the advance for My Life was actually $15 million.

Summary and themes

My Life covers mostly chronologically the life of Bill Clinton, growing up in Hopemarker, Arkansasmarker, moving to Hot Springs, Arkansasmarker where he attended school and had learned the tenor saxophone, which would find its way into a peripheral role in his public appearances. His interest in politics eventually led him to the governorship of Arkansasmarker, and later, the presidency of the United Statesmarker. Along the way, Clinton offers anecdotes of ordinary people he had interacted with over the years.

Early in Clinton's life, he recalls listening to family's stories of others and learning "that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgements can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain."

Following his defeat for second term as governor, Clinton remarks, "the system can only absorb so much change at once; no one can be all the entrenched interests at the same time; and if people think you've stopped listening, you're sunk."

In a political battle, one should wait for an attack from his opponent, then counterpunch as strong and as fast as possible. Early gaffes in Clinton's political career were a result, he believed, of taking too long to respond to attacks.

Writing process

Clinton spent about two and a half years on the book. He gathered material for four months, wrote an outline, "and then I wrote for two years and two months." The book's editor was Justin Cooper. "I wrote it out long hand, left blanks for research, he'd do the research, put it in the computer, print it out, and then we'd edit it", Clinton said. "Every page in this book has probably been gone over somewhere between three and nine times." The original draft for the book was written completely in long-hand. "[There were] twenty-two big, thick notebooks."

Reaction

Clinton's former advisor Dick Morris wrote a rebuttal named Because He Could, criticizing My Life. In the book, Morris presented what he believed to be factual inaccuracies of different events depicted in My Life.

At 1008 pages, the memoir has been made fun of for its length, with Jon Stewart joking, "I have to confess, I did not finish the entire book; I'm on ... page twelve thousand." Former President George W. Bush joked that it was "ten thousand pages long."

In 2007 Teletext carried out a survey of Britishmarker readers, the results of which revealed that 30% of the respondents had purchased My Life, but had either not read it, or had begun to read it but had not finished it.

The audio book edition, read by Clinton and published by Random House Audio, won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. This was the second time he had won the award; in February 2004, Clinton (along with former leader of the Soviet Unionmarker Mikhail Gorbachev and actress Sophia Loren) won the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the Russian National Orchestra's album Peter and the Wolf/Wolf Tracks.

Clinton earned $30 million as of April 2008 from the sales of My Life and his follow-up book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

Editions

In addition to the full-volume hardback that was initially released, several other editions followed, including: a limited deluxe edition that was numbered, slipcased, and autographed; trade paperback; audio (read by Bill Clinton); and a mass market paperback edition separated into two volumes.

References

  1. Late Show with David Letterman, The, aired August 3, 2004.
  2. Bill Clinton Part 2 | The Daily Show | Comedy Central
  3. President Bush Makes Fun of Himself (really)
  4. Clintons' earnings exceed $100m, an April 2008 BBC News article


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