In a Memoir, Impeachment Witness Fiona Hill Recalls Her Journey from ‘Blitted World’ to the White House

Viewed from afar, Hill’s story appears to be a triumphant tale of effort and accomplishment. Born in 1965, she grew up in an “unhappy world”. When he was 14 his father followed the men of his family to the mines; As the industry began to decline in the 1960s, he found a job as a hospital porter. Hill’s mother worked as a babysitter. In the late 1970s, Hill’s grandparents lived in subsidized rowhouses without “mod cones” or modern amenities, including indoor plumbing. Her grandfather was pierced by a “wind pick” – a pneumatic drill – and had to wear a brace around his pelvis “to keep his battered insides in” for the rest of his life.

Credit…Andrew Harnick / AP

Hill narrates it all with immediacy, tenderness, and a good bit of gallows humor. She recalls how the people of Bishop Auckland began to call the crumbling city “Bish Vegas”—finding scraps of comedy in their dilapidated circumstances and how they combined a degraded present with a once bustling past. Covered up. She describes working several part-time to help her family, including at a medieval banquet hall, where she had to wear a ruffled dress that kept falling down from her slender frame. Her mother prepared a chest for her out of pantyhose filled with tissue—”It worked quite well,” Hill writes, until she slipped on a patch of “clean mashed potatoes” and landed on the floor. fell, causing “overgrown breast.”

Costumes are a recurring motif in the book, as are glimpses of self-deprecation over past insults. Growing up, Hill wanted her clothes to hide her family’s financial needs, but they were more likely to take it away. Her mom sewed her a pair of trousers from the heavy fabric left over after she made the window treatments—giving Hill the school nickname of “Curtain Legs.” Hill interviewed for a university spot wearing a homemade skirt with a heraldic pattern and a cardigan that was “good,” she writes, “if you were 80.” Afterwards, she had the resources to create the kind of self-presentation she wanted. She remembers being in a store with her mom in 2019, who used to shout: “Hey, Fiona, there are some suits on sale here — might you need one for the impeachment you’re on? “

As for that “impeachment talk,” Hill doesn’t say much about the actual hearing, although she has a lot to say about Trump. Instead of making the usual insider-memoir trick of fixing on all the brazenly abusive behavior — quirky comments, abusive tweets — Hill notices her insecurities, soft spots that, she says, make her “extremely vulnerable” to manipulation. Yes, she writes, the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election – but unlike the #Resistance crowd, which insist that such interference was decisive, Hill is more circumspect, pointing out that Vladimir Putin He was not the force that tore the country apart; He was only exploiting the cracks that already existed.

Just as it was about him, those around Trump would wreak havoc on each other by playing to his “delicate ego”—spreading rumors that his rivals in the administration had said something negative about Trump, often to ground those rivals. was enough for. The president called his “bad list”. Hill says watching Trump fulminate made him feel like Alice in Wonderland was looking at the Queen of Hearts, “with their heads off!” shouting incessantly. In Hill’s telling, Trump’s norm-breaking was so prominent and persistent that she compares him, in her case, to a flasher. “Trump revealed itself,” she writes, “and people just got used to it.”

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