Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYT Review on Condi's book: "rarely a hair out of place"

Condoleezza Rice - World Economic Forum Annual...Image by World Economic Forum via FlickrYou know, of course, that the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also known as 66th  has written a memoir, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People A Memoir of Family" (342 pages. Illustrated. Crown Archetype. $27), right?   NYT's Dwight Garner has written a review of the book in its Books of The Times. Excerpt below:

For all this, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People” is often aloof. There are few unguarded moments, little humor. There’s rarely a hair out of place. (She does talk about several of her boyfriends over the years, including, in the mid-1970s, the Denver Broncos kick returner Rick Upchurch.) Like so many public figures and those in government and politics especially, Ms. Rice is not especially reflective. Her energy is directed out, not in.

It’s frustrating. Here’s a woman, you think, who has been secretary of state and provost of Stanford University. During the fall of the Berlin Wall, she was George H. W. Bush’s adviser on Soviet policy. Her doctoral dissertation was published by Princeton University Press. Surely there’s a keen and kaleidoscopic mind in there. But that mind is rarely apparent in this softly flowing book. Reading it, from the perspective of ideas and intellect, is like watching a Toyota Prius compete in the Indianapolis 500.
“Extraordinary, Ordinary People” follows Ms. Rice to the University of Denver, where she studied international politics with the former Czech diplomat Josef Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright. Korbel would become the first of her many influential mentors, who would come to include Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush’s national security adviser, and George Shultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan.

This book takes us through her years at the National Security Council under Mr. Scowcroft and her disputatious tenure as the Stanford provost, where she slashed budgets and alienated much of the faculty. Ms. Rice skims quickly over both of these periods. Much fuller accounts can be found in the New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller’s comprehensive biography, “Condoleezza Rice: An American Life” (2007).
The most ringing line here may belong to Barbara Bush, then first lady, who said to Ms. Rice as she was preparing to leave the White House to return to Stanford: “You are such a good friend of the Bushes. This won’t be the last we see of you.”
Active links added above.  Read the whole thing here.

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