Political memoirs, with rare exceptions, are self-serving documents. A lot depends on when they are written. Those written soon after the writer has demitted office are more likely to have much to hide and less to inform.
There is, of course, nothing mythical about time. The elapse of time does not impart greater truthfulness to writing, at least no more than a writer wishes to. Nonetheless, time does generate reflection.
This worked for at least one US secretary of state, Dean Acheson, who served under Harry Truman from 1949-53. His memoirs, Present At The Creation: My Years In The State Department, were penned a leisurely 16 years after he left Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC. Acheson was at the helm of US foreign policymaking right at the start of the Cold War. He was pilloried for “losing” China and, in general, as the begetter of disastrous outcomes for the US in Asia. That did not deter him from writing calmly about his country’s setbacks in Korea and elsewhere. He died within two years of finishing Present At The Creation.
Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state under Barack Obama from 2009-13, almost 60 years to the date after Acheson, has written a very different book. Her memoir, Hard Choices, was written barely a year after she left the state department. In her case, there is another problem: She is possibly still in the running for public office. Though there has been no confirmation, it is an open secret that she is in contention for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the top job in 2016. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (AUTHOR)