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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 05:04 GMT 06:04 UK
Clinton's memoirs hit the shelves
The Clinton family
On Monday Clinton hosted a lavish launch party in New York
Former US President Bill Clinton's eagerly awaited autobiography, "My Life", has gone on sale in the US.

Bookshops in New York, Washington and Mr Clinton's hometown Little Rock were open at midnight for die-hard shoppers.

A record breaking first run of 1.5m books has been printed in preparation to meet the anticipated demand.

The book has received a rather chilly reception from the critics but that has not deterred the public, with the book racking up massive advance orders.

"It's like adult Harry Potter mania. We haven't seen anything like this since JK Rowling came here," Michael Link, a worker at a Washington book shop, told the Associated Press.

Bill Clinton's autobiography

The book follows Mr Clinton's life, from his earliest beginnings as a child growing up in Arkansas to the White House.

It gives frank details of his time in office, including his notorious affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the book's publication Mr Clinton said his relationship with Ms Lewinsky came at a time when he was under huge pressure as president.

He told the BBC that his "old demons" surfaced and led him into the affair.

"It happened at a time when I was angry, I was under stress, I was afraid I was going to lose my fight with the Republican Congress," said Mr Clinton.

"As I said, I was in this titanic fight for the future of the country, and an inevitable fight with my old demons. So I won the public fight and lost the private one."

Star-studded event

On Monday evening Mr Clinton hosted a lavish Manhattan party for 1,000 guests to mark the publication of the autobiography.

My copy arrived in the post yesterday and I'm already engrossed!
Matt, London, UK

Among those joining Mr Clinton, his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea at the Metropolitan Museum of Art were Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Lauren Bacall.

Recent presidential candidate Reverend Al Sharpton and author Toni Morrison were also there.

Mr Clinton received a hefty advance for the book, reportedly $10m, but he joked that by the time he finished the 937-page tome "I was just about down to minimum wage".

But the critics do not seem to think Mr Clinton deserves his massive payout. The New York Times says that the book is "sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull".

The New York Times review says that much of the book is "the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history".

BBC One will be broadcasting The Clinton Interview - a Panorama Special on Tuesday 22 June at 2235 BST.

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"It is America's obsession with Bill Clinton's private life that is driving sales"

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