Thursday, November 25, 2010

Extraordinary Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice

Throughout reading Condoleezza Rice's memoir, I kept wondering why Republicans don't have more women like her campaigning and running for office.  Rice is bright, articulate and humane, and even though she is a prominent Republican she has always fascinated me.  How did she get to be National Security Advisor then Secretary of State and most importantly, how does a black woman get to be a Republican?

Rice's voice throughout this book was simple and clear.  I felt like she was sitting across from me having tea and telling me the story of her life.  It was all written in very plain language and yet so compelling.  What a life she has led!

But  this is really only her own story vis a vis the two extraordinary people she really wants to write about:  her parents John and Angelena Rice who raised her as part of a middle class black enclave in Birmingham, Alabama during the waning days of Jim Crow.  These two people are the glue that ties Rice's life together. They are the people that made her who she is.  She ends the book after her father dies just after George HW Bush is elected to office and before he is sworn in.  She hints at events to come and notes with sadness that her father never lived to see her as Secretary of State, but he did know she would be Bush's National Security Advisor.  (I needed a hankie for the last chapter.  Her love for her parents is palpable and important to the story.)

I found the story to be most interesting when she writes of her early days in the south and what was like to bear witness to the changing times during the civil rights era.  I also thought her involvement in the end of the USSR was equally as fascinating.  She really has seen and done a lot thanks to the values and education she received from her remarkable parents.

I will say that the only part I had trouble reading was the second to the last chapter titled Florida.  I'll allow the reader to figure out what that means.  Of course she was rejoicing, but I remember crying a little that day.

Condoleeza has seen the world, met many many important people, lived through tumultuous events and had a hand in governing the country in a very troubled time.   She is also an accomplished pianist, a figure skater and was Provost at Stanford.  Her remarkable life is worthy of reading about, even if you have to skip the chapter on Florida.

1 comment:

Steph said...

I've always admired her, as well.