In This Review

Chances of a Lifetime: A Memoir
Chances of a Lifetime: A Memoir
By Eleanor Lansing Dulles
Prentice-Hall, 1980, 390 pp

Christopher had a long career before he became Bill Clinton's first secretary of state. This is a book about some of his personal moments and perspectives on those decades of good service, which included the number-two jobs at the Justice and State Departments. The author comes across as steady, careful, and public-spirited. In the second half of the book, Christopher describes his service as secretary of state. But he passes over the early crises in Somalia and Haiti without comment, includes little or no discussion of North Korea and Iraq, and picks up the story of the Balkans only after the dramatic massacres of July 1995. Aside from his account of NATO enlargement, policy toward Russia is also breezed over. Although many pages describe what it is like to travel, attend White House meetings, and visit with foreign leaders, not a single paragraph steps back to describe the priorities, strategies, or objectives that Christopher sought to pursue for the United States in the world. He may feel he has already covered this ground in an earlier book that compiled his major speeches.