Extraordinary, Ordinary People

Extraordinary, Ordinary People

A Memoir of Family

Book - 2010
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This is the story of Condoleezza Rice-- her early years growing up in the hostile environment of Birmingham, Alabama; her rise in the ranks at Stanford University to become the university's second-in-command and an expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs; and finally, in 2000, her appointment as the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State.
Publisher: New York : Crown Archetype, [2010]
Edition: 1st ed.
Copyright Date: ©2010
ISBN: 9780307587879
Characteristics: 342 pages, [16] pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm.


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Jun 02, 2019

“…the 1964 (Civil Rights) Act was the one that had made it possible for me to eat at a restaurant in my home town.”

-Condoleezza Rice

Wow, that really hits you as do many of the reminiscences Condoleezza Rice (CR) shares from her life. This autobiography is a love letter to her parents and others who helped shape her as a young person to reach her early personal ambitions as a concert pianist and figure skater. Then, she later became Provost at Stanford and ultimately to the White House where she served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

Early on in this book she shares her childhood memories of living in Birmingham, AL during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Condoleezza Rice as an only child had an idyllic childhood with support from her extended family. Then she recalls the Sunday morning when word came to her father’s congregation – Westminster Presbyterian – that there had been a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church by white supremacist KKK members. Four girls her age were killed in that action. CR’s father “was concerned that if something wasn’t done about this (bombing), it would embolden the segregationists.”

Another interesting fact CR shared was that she initially registered as a Democrat, voting for Jimmy Carter but reregistered with the Republican Party because Jimmy Carter implemented the US boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Who would have thought?

Throughout this book, Condoleezza Rice leads the listener to visualize her young life and the events that shaped her path toward White House Chief of Staff. She is now on the faculty of Stanford Graduate School of Business and an author. This book ends off as she begins to work for George W. Bush, leading the listener ready to hear the next chapter of her life story in the follow up book “No Higher Honor”.

The author reads this audio book which makes the sharing of her story even more personal. Condoleezza Rice has great pacing and tone in this intimate telling of her life story.

The fact about how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 affected her childhood is so powerful as is the rest of this autobiography. You don’t think about how changes in laws may affect our future leaders and influences their work which shapes of all our futures. This autobiography was very illuminating about a women I thought I knew well enough as a public figure. It’s well worth giving a listen to know more about her.

Mayflower94 Oct 13, 2016

Can't say I admire her after reading her memoir.

branch_reviews Jan 23, 2013

Condoleezza was born in 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the only child of a pastor and a teacher who valued education highly and tried to give their daughter every possible opportunity. She feels the controlled environment in which she and her black friends were raised was an asset as it sheltered them from the segregation going on around her. Family, school, church and community were tightly knit and very supportive. As a young teen, Condoleezza moved to Denver, Colorado and continued to excel this time in a quite different environment. The book is well written with interesting side stories and insights into her accomplished life as Provost of Stanford University, first woman to serve as National Security Advisor and first black woman to be Secretary of State. Reviewed by DS

crankylibrarian Feb 18, 2012

Pedestrian writing and an unwillingness to expose herself emotionally limit this memoir's appeal. Rice is proud of her hard working, conservative parents, but pride barely masks the disdain and distance she feels for the less exalted. Interesting how often she refers to her family's love of the "finer things": Italian purses and handbags, classical music, ice skating ; seemingly equating bourgeois pretension with moral worth.

Booktraveler Apr 12, 2011

Very interesting life - particularly growing up in the segregated south. Another main theme about how her parents high expectations influenced her also makes for great discussion.


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