Excerpt: 'Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton'

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Far from being just a former first lady, Hillary Clinton is poised to become a pivotal figure in American political history.

"Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton" takes a look at how the presidential candidate became the woman she is today. Using a variety of sources, including previously undisclosed documents, authors and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. paint a portrait of one of the most important women in politics.

From the dorm rooms of Wellesley College to the back rooms of the Senate, find out how Clinton became the woman she is today.

Read an Excerpt from "Her Way" Below:

Chapter 1

Chase and Run

In the student lounge of Yale Law School, in September 1970, Hillary Rodham could not help noticing a tall, handsome young man with a reddish brown beard and an unruly mane of chestnut brown hair. He was talking energetically and expansively with a small circle of rapt students, and Hillary later observed that he looked more like a Viking holding court than a first-year law student trying to win over a few friends.

The first words that Hillary heard him say, in a syrupy southern drawl, were ". . . and not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world!" "Who is that?" Hillary asked a friend.

"Oh, that's Bill Clinton," the friend replied. "He's from Arkansas, and that's all he ever talks about."

Hillary did not meet Bill that day. In fact, nearly two semesters passed before they would finally be introduced. Through that fall and into the spring, however, the two spent a lot of time just staring at each other across the student lounge or the law library. One spring evening in the library, Hillary observed Bill in the hallway, talking to a student named Jeff Gleckel, who was attempting to persuade Bill to write for the Yale Law Journal. As he listened to Jeff 's pitch, Bill once again found himself glancing over at Hillary. Finally, Hillary decided that enough was enough. She stood up from behind her desk, walked over to her admirer, extended her hand for a shake, and said, "If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I'm Hillary Rodham."

Bill was flummoxed and flattered by this young woman's forwardness -- her boldness nearly left him speechless, which in itself was quite a feat. But for Hillary, it was neither a surprising move nor an uncharacteristic one. As long as anyone could remember, Hillary Rodham had seized the initiative in a way that made people's heads spin.

"I wasn't born a First Lady or a senator," Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in the opening paragraph of her 2003 autobiography, Living History. "I wasn't born a Democrat. I wasn't born a lawyer or an advocate for women's rights and human rights. I wasn't born a wife or mother. I was born an American in the middle of the twentieth century, a fortunate time and place."

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