UT alumna Amy Chozick tracks Hillary Clinton’s “death march to victory” in “Chasing Hillary”

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

When Amy Chozick paid a visit to UT in spring 2017, she described former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s second presidential run as “a death march
to victory.”

Chozick, UT alumna and reporter for The New York Times, followed Clinton on both her 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns. In the past two years, Chozick has come under fire for her coverage of Clinton by both Democrats and Republicans, each saying she had a bias for the other. In her debut book, “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling,” Chozick reveals what went into her 10 years of Clinton campaign reporting.

The book packs over a decade’s worth of events into a meager 400 pages and does exactly what Chozick’s coverage of Clinton did: it agitates and aggravates both Republicans and Democrats. Chozick’s book feels like it’s less about Clinton herself and more about Chozick, her time on the campaign trail and the overwhelming sense she had that Clinton would not succeed. In fact, Chozick was only allowed a few personal interactions with the fiercely private Clinton, one of which included Clinton walking in on Chozick in an airplane bathroom. Throughout the book, Chozick recounts the odd dance she and Clinton seemed to be locked in — Clinton always keeping Chozick and the rest of her largely female press corps at arm’s length.

What makes “Chasing Hillary” stand out from the likes of other political tell-all books, such as “A Higher Loyalty” and “Fire and Fury,” is Chozick’s immediate willingness to
qualify herself. Before the book even begins, Chozick attempts to prove its truth — she hired a fact-checker, she admitted this book is not a complete work of journalism, she got her information firsthand and kept notes on almost everything` and what she didn’t have written down she reconstructed from memory. Although there’s no way for the reader to check the validity of this, it’s reassuring to have her address this from the beginning. Chozick’s presentation of her qualifications makes her feel like a more reliable narrator. Coupled with her witty and, at points, comical narration, Chozick wooes the reader almost as soon as the book begins. Chozick’s narrative voice is so charming that, at
points, you lose yourself in the book and stop being critical of the information Chozick is giving you, willing to drink the kool-aid.

Without such a poignant and entertaining voice, “Chasing Hillary” may have been doomed from the start. If you don’t walk into “Chasing Hillary” with some interest in the world of journalism or politics, the book can feel like it drones on endlessly, saved only by insignificant but humorous interactions popping up along the way.

Chozick’s book is not perfect, and neither was her coverage of Clinton’s campaign.  Chozick owns that. Her honesty and self reflection gives “Chasing Hillary” a genuine and near heart-breaking tone. Chozick not only reflects on how her occasionally negative coverage of Clinton shaped the election but on how the elections shaped Clinton. Chozick reckons with the different versions of Hillary Clinton she has met and which she will choose to hold onto and pass down to her kids.

“Chasing Hillary” encapsulates the fear and anguish that was the 2016 election for Clinton and her supporters, melding it with an in-depth behind the scenes look at the election from an uninvolved onlooker. Chozick’s retelling may be flawed at points, but it’s one hell of a story.

Page Count: 400
Rating: 4/5