5 Must-Read Hillary Clinton Writings

Coming to terms with the particulars of the many presidential nominees vying for your vote come November 2016 is practically a full-time job. Now, there's a new candidate to consider: Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016. Are you ready?

Anyone who lived through the service and scandals of former President Bill Clinton and kept her eyes and ears open for the past decade has surely seen and heard more than enough about the first significant female contender for America's highest public office. Of course, forming your opinion of any candidate based solely on secondary sources can be a dangerous business, especially when the candidate in question is a figure of such hotly-contested national stature as HRC.

If you're looking to really get to know Hillary Clinton, why not go straight to the source? Over the years, Clinton has made her voice heard many arenas. She's written many essays in her various legal, ceremonial, and political capacities. So whether you're already sick of the talking heads and and robocalls, or you're simply looking for a few scintillating light longreads (ahem), these five Hillary Clinton essays and writings make for perfect reading in advance of the coming presidential election.

1. " There Is Only the Fight ....' : An Analysis of the Alinsky Model"

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While not technically an essay, Hillary Clinton's 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis titled "'There Is Only the Fight...' : An Analysis of the Alinsky Model" is simply too good to miss out on. Barack Obama's background as a community organizer is well-known and hotly contested within political circles, but Clinton's own interest in the organizing methods and local impact of the polarizing community organizer Saul Alinsky are much less widely known. Of course, assuming that anyone still holds to the ideas they put forward in a senior thesis is risky at best, but Clinton's striking critique of Alinsky's methods and extraordinarily apt writing and reasoning make this essay well worth a read, regardless of whether or not you feel comfortable assuming she still holds to the same opinions.

2. "Children Under the Law"

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Children Under the Law was originally published in the Harvard Educational Review in 1973, one of several essays Clinton wrote early on in her legal career outlining and advocating for the rights of children. As Clinton's work on behalf of women and international development receives increasing attention, it's fascinating to look back and see her early passion for youth advocacy. What kinds of policy implications could essays like this have for a Clinton presidency? Read on and decide for yourself.

3. "Talking it Over" Columns

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images currently features an entire archive of newspaper columns authored by Hilary Clinton, dating back to her days as First Lady. Written conversationally and in the first person, these columns are far more intimate and accessible than Clinton's more academic work, and offer a fascinating glimpse at the more human side of Hillary. If you like to get to know your candidates mano a mano and you don't have the tens of thousands of dollars it would take to buy a seat at an intimate fundraising dinner, these columns might just be the closest you'll get to the country's first serious female contender for the presidency.

4. "Leading Through Civilian Power: Redefining American Diplomacy and Development"

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If you feel most comfortable with a candidate once you've dug deep into the policy decisions that define her politically, Clinton's essay "Leading Through Civilian Power: Redefining American Diplomacy and Development" published in the November-December 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs may just be the perfect way to introduce yourself to the new and improved candidate Clinton, fresh from a victorious stint as Secretary of State and ready to take on the role of Commander in Chief.

5. "America's Pacific Century"

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After her turn as America's top diplomat, surely Clinton's stance on foreign policy is one of the most vital aspects of her political profile. If you really want to get to know the candidate intimately, why not take a look another essay Clinton published in Foreign Policy. The 2011 piece titled "America's Pacific Century" outlines Clinton's take on one of The United States' most important geopolitical relationships and couldn't be more relevant to both the campaign and the potential presidency to come. Put on your policy wonk hat, pull up the archives of Foreign Policy, and prepare to meet the real Hillary Clinton, in her own words.

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