Two new books on Sen. Hillary Clinton this month, both of them already heavily promoted, both of them promising to be trash. One is by Carl Bernstein, the no-talent half of the Watergate celebrity investigative duo, and the other by a New York Times team that includes the sleaze specialist Jeff Gerth, who dreamed up most of the Whitewater “scandal” from which the New York Times’ reputation for journalistic integrity has not recovered and probably won’t ever recover.
Mrs. Clinton has already been bio-ed by a half dozen of the great slimeballs of contemporary American non-fiction. The list includes Gail Sheehy, R. Emmet Tyrrell, Peggy Noonan, David Horowitz, L. Brent Bozell, Gary Aldrich, Edward Klein and Dick Morris — surely the sorriest character lumping since Milton’s enumeration of Satan’s underlings in “Paradise Lost.”
Her uninteresting life has been pored over moreso perhaps than any such conventional-minded person since Marilyn Monroe. By anyone’s standard it should’ve been enough, but Mrs. C. is running for president and these days you don’t need more of an excuse for a cold-case review than that some rock back there in her many times already microscopically scrutinized past might not have previously been turned over.
Expect “Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” from Gerth and co-writer Don Van Natta Jr., to be more grinding of an old axe, and Bernstein’s “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” a hopeful attempt to earn critical comparison with any of Woodward’s hapless string for pointlessness and inconsequentiality. The Gerth is from Little, Brown; the Bernstein from Knopf, which usually adheres to higher standards.
Ray Hanley has done several postcard histories of Little Rock and Pulaski County, and his latest, from Arcadia Publishing, is called “Little Rock: Then & Now.” There are pictures here of dozens of Little Rock street corners, intersections, prominent buildings and street scenes showing what they looked like many years ago and what they look like today. In just about every case, the view from long ago — many of them go back a hundred years and more — is much preferable to that of today. There are views in three directions from Markham and Main, and whichever way you look, the view of a century ago has a hundred interesting elements, and you feel fortunate if the contemporary view has any. Hanley says his hope is that the book will inspire people “to donate time and money to preserve the unique legacy of Little Rock’s past.”
It’s an Arcadia paperback, with the State Capitol then and now on the cover, $19.99.
The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library has published “Crisis of Conscience: Arkansas Methodists and the Civil Rights Struggle,” in which about two dozen members of the sect, some well known and some not so much, relate their personal experiences with civil-rights issues over the 50 years from the 1957 Little Rock Central High School contretemps. Edited by James T. Clemons and Kelly L. Farr, the book is paperback and sells for $15.
You never know how much truth there is in a story when convicts are telling it, but “Like a Thief’s Dream” is an entertaining tale by filmmaker Danny Lyon about a life-termer named James Ray Denton, one of American’s 10 Most Wanted after being convicted of murdering a Springdale policeman in 1976. Denton escaped from Tucker Prison around 1980, and recounts in this book his time on the lam. He died in 1995. He told his story to Lyon, who developed his own theories about the crime, and the book is pretty entertaining if not altogether persuasive. It’s from Powerhouse Books, $29.95.
Upcoming: A new edition of “True Grit” by Charles Portis of Little Rock, from Outlook Press, due in September but you can probably get it earlier. The American classic has an afterword by Donna Tartt in this edition. It’s paperback, $14.95, and note that four other Portis titles are available from the same publisher. Do yourself a favor. Get them all.
Also upcoming: From Arkansas’s most prolific and best-selling author, Charlaine Harris of Magnolia, a thriller called “An Ice Cold Grave,” a Berkley Prime Crime hardcover, in October, $23.95.