THE SEDUCTION OF HILLARY RODHAM.<i> By David Brock (Free Press: $26, 422 pp.)</i>

“Hillary’s story is that of an intelligent, talented, ambitious and very determined woman who nevertheless succumbed to powerfully seductive forces--philosophical, political and personal. These include the easy moral certitudes of the Christian left; the fashionable instrumentalist legal doctrines disseminated at Yale Law School; the situational ethics and power-based political philosophies of a certain strain of 1960s radicalism; the dangerously tempting belief, instilled by influential mentors, in the beneficent potential of government as a force for social progress; the frictionless ease of manipulating the levers of power in a corrupt one-party state; and the idealized vision of a new kind of political partnership with her husband that proved impossible to realize . . . a virtual paradigm of the modern feminist movement.”


Exhaustive to the point of exhaustion, this look at the first lady by American Spectator writer Brock (author of “The Real Anita Hill”) is predictably critical but unexpectedly measured, at least in comparison to what Beltway gossips anticipated and by contrast to the pernicious anti-Hillary tirades that have become so commonplace in today’s politics. All the familiar is here--the philandering husband, Whitewater, health care, the radicalism of her youth--but with more perspective and calm than sometimes given elsewhere. But missing, as usual, is insight into the human dimensions of a woman, spouse and mother caught between yesterday’s pious traditions and today’s conflicting expectations.