I first actually viewed Fiona Hill when she testified at Trump’s first impeachment hearing and I was just so impressed. Then I realized I’d already read a book by her – Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin was published in 2020 and I read it then as I was fascinated by Putin.
There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century
By Fiona Hill
Oct 2021 / (432 pages)
Read by Fiona Hill
Rating: 7.5 / memoir – economics
I first actually saw Fiona Hill when she testified at Trump’s first impeachment hearing and I was just so impressed. That book is also read by Hill and yes, her accent was challenging until I got used to it. Then I realized I’d already read a book by her – Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin was published in 2020 and I read it then because I was fascinated by Putin.
Hill grew up in the mainly coal town of Bishop Auckland in the 1970s. Those were the Thatcher years and Hill was a poor girl in a hard-pressed post-industrial part of England. Her father told her to get out of there if she wanted opportunity. She followed his advice – hence the title.
Her family is presented as being rather typical of the times and place. And typical also of parts of the US for the last couple decades where jobs have disappeared and there’s not much “opportunity” to be had. J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Tara Westover’s Educated are memoirs with this theme – coming up out of working class areas where the work part has disappeared.
Hill’s focus is the economics of the area and her own family and that works into advice to others as well as the health and education necessary to make use of any possible opportunity to be found. Her mother worked in health care, her father in various fields so Hill aimed toward gaining an education where, in the 1970s, changes were occurring in both the US and UK enabling the poor to gain access to the middle class.
One thing which was different about Hill’s situation is that her parents scrimped and were lucky enough to be able to purchase and keep a home. She won a scholarship to a local high school, but didn’t have the money for the uniforms. “Even when opportunity presented itself it took resources to seize it.” Instead she went to the local public school where weren’t enough text books to go around and other difficulties.
She then made use of all opportunities as they come along with some room for choosing and a lot of room for luck. She sought out small grants and scholarships at the library and through volunteering and tips from others including her local political representatives, churches and unions – almost anywhere. She ended up getting a PhD, moving to the US and getting a job at the US State Department. This has to be persistent and personally driven – there was no one program for opportunity and success.
One problem Hill faced at almost all levels of advancement was her accent which spoke of her northeast working class background. It became a stigma whenever she met British people who knew immediately where she was from and she never “fixed” her accent.
Trump is discussed as being particularly bad about prejudice and stereotyping women and experts. Hill faced it all. And she wrote a book about how to find opportunity when it seems entirely stacked against you.
And she has a multitude of suggestions for how individuals, communities and countries can do this. The book is mostly about the sub-title: “Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century.”
It’s a pretty good book but I got bored when the talk turned too much to specific opportunities other than hers. The last third seems to drag on and on. I most enjoyed the memoir and the parts about life in the US with Trump.
Becky, of all of the oath-bound, diligent public servants who testified at the first Trump impeachment hearing, Dr. Fiona Hill had the most gravitas and veracity. Hers is a voice that should be listened to. One of the more frightful things she said that day was the Russians have purposefully tried to influence American politics and “still are.” She was implying some of the rhetoric being used by Congressional representatives to discredit her was parroting Russian disinformation.
I have long said the former president’s worse adversary is a woman armed with the facts. He does not deal well with anyone with facts, but in particular a woman who has decided to push back on his routine BS. Dr. Hill is a woman armed with the facts and a voice of experience.
I agree – the problem is that the book was not about anything she testified about although it was mentioned. The book was basically about “Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century” as she experienced it *(memoir) and about what can be done to enhance it for others. She talked about Thatcher as much as about Trump. There are some interesting parts about her experience with Trump and the 2016 elections but that’s not much of the book – there is also quite a lot about what could be improved to make opportunity more available to more people, especially kids. Hill came from poverty in Northern England – she had several strikes against her and yet she made it to the US State Department.
I was somewhat disappointed.
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Becky, maybe it is better she wrote less about her deceitful and corrupt acting former boss. Having said that, unlike others, she put her credibility on the line at the time it was needed knowing she would lose her job and get vilified by the MAGA supporters and sycophants. This political courage is lost on others. The question you want them to answer is why would she do that? Keith
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Keith – the reason I bought the book and read it was because of Hill’s presence and testimony before Congress. But in the book, I don’t think she addressed anything about testifying in the face of that kind of penalty. She addresses courage a lot – courage to go to Russia for her education the courage to come to the US. She, and others like her in different ways, face many difficulties all the way through their careers from public school and stigmatized accents to presidential sexism. That’s what she addresses along with how to succeed anyway. (That’s what I got out of it.)