New Delhi: Italy's flamboyant Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi brought US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Naples' famous silk scarves and told her tales about his childhood when he met her in the aftermath of American cables' dubbing him as a "feckless and ineffective leader" in 2010.
This is one of several interesting details about the drama of WikiLeaks which find mention in BBC journalist Kim Ghattas' new book "The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power", published by Times Books.
Following the WikiLeaks release describing him as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern leader" Berlusconi met Hillary and gave her an impassioned presentation about how much he loved America and why it was so painful for him to read the WikiLeaks release.

"He (Berlusconi) had brought her a gift: silk scarves from Naples' famous E Marinella artisans. He told her about his father, who used to take him to the cemetery to see the graves of American soldiers who had fought and died to liberate Italy in World War II and how it had cemented his love for America," the book says.
According to the author, "Hillary was not exactly an admirer of the Italian leader as a person, with his reputation for raunchy parties and allegations of sex with underage girls. But she felt bad for the politician, who had been such an ally for the US.
"I will stand here with you, she told him. We will bring cameras, and I will convey our gratitude to Italy and to you personally for what you have done for our relationship. An e-mail was sent around to the travelling press corps alerting us that Clinton was about to make a statement. The camera crew, photographers, and a couple of reporters hurried into the room."

"The US highly values the relationship that we have with the Prime Minister of Italy," said Clinton. "We have no better friend, we have no one who supports the American policies as consistently as Prime Minister Berlusconi has, starting in the Clinton administration, through the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration."

In the book, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Hillary, US administration officials, and players in Washington as well as around the world to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians.
"The Secretary" provides a captivating analysis of Hillary's brand of diplomacy and the Barack Obama administration's efforts to redefine American power in the 21st century.
Populated with a cast of real-life characters, it tells the story of Hillary's transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America's envoy to the world in compelling detail. "From the rise of China to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Hillary cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 am after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya," Ghatta says.
Viewed through Ghatta's vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, "The Secretary" is also the author's own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, what will it mean for America and the world?


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