We don’t learn much new about the inner workings of US foreign policy in this book-length reporting by BBC State Department correspondent Kim Ghattas, and for all her access to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s thinking, we don’t learn much that’s new about Clinton either. In “The Secretary,’’ Ghattas makes a strong case that US power around the world is increasingly limited, and that we can no longer make huge changes acting alone. But this is hardly revelatory.
Ghattas travels around the world with Clinton on the State Department’s plane, along with more than a dozen other journalists. While her account is based on the many press conferences and public events she covers on behalf of the BBC, as well as the occasional chatty visits by Clinton to the back of the plane, that access leads to nought as Ghattas’s insights can largely be gleaned from the daily newspaper. Again, little new is offered other than the trivial.