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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of…
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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

by Condoleezza Rice

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Well written biography of a very interesting lady. Considering the sacrifices they made for her future, her parents truly were extraordinary. ( )
  GTTexas | Aug 18, 2013 |
While it's itneresting, I'm in a fiction mood right now; I got to about chapter seven.
  dancingwaves | Apr 16, 2013 |
I have admired Condoleezza Rice for years so when I heard about the release of her memoir I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to read what she had to say because there is no limit to the opinions of her critics. I felt in a library kind of mood so I decided to move this title up on my TBR list and went and picked it up!

Rice opens up her life to us by taking us for a climb on the Rice and Ray (her mother’s maiden name) family trees going back to her great-grandparents. I viewed her beginnings as humble like most people with southern roots. John and Angelena Rice’s courtship and marriage was a true love story. Even though John and Angelena married later in life, Angelena was twenty-nine; one could tell they were soul mates. John Rice a Presbyterian preacher was civic minded and very involved in his community especially with the youth. Angelena was the epitome of a lady often cleaning in heels. The Rice’s had a close knit immediate and extended family which I think shaped Condoleezza into a confident woman. Angelena Rice was the reason for her daughter’s life- long love of the piano. Condoleeza began piano lessons with her grandmother at approximately three years old. Rice also took up figure skating for a period of time. Growing up in Birmingham, AL, during the reign of Bull Connor, Condoleezza Rice never fell victim to the stereotypes others placed on African-Americans of that era. John and Angelena always affirmed to Condoleezza that she could accomplish great things and to never be a victim. We learn that Rice never really made a decision without consulting with her parents first. Having a strong family unit and community shaped her ideals and values for years to come.

When we see the stoic Rice on television or read about her in various articles you would never think she ever had those crippling moments of uncertainty of what she wanted to be or do in life. Rice reveals that she had many moments such as these. This work includes very little transparency. It was refreshing to read about Rice’s early life but as the book progressed I felt it was just a list of accomplishments and who’s who. There were also points when there were strong statements that revealed a classist attitude that bordered on arrogance.

Reading that Madeleine Albright’s father was Rice’s professor and at one time she lived next door to Benjamin Netanyahu’s family, I thought yes this is a small world. I was most impressed with how well she articulated her choice in political party without being defensive or apologetic. There was a certain “stiffness” this memoir possessed that never gave way. ( )
  pinkcrayon99 | Apr 18, 2012 |
Love her or hate her, one can’t deny that Condoleezza Rice has led a fascinating and supremely accomplished life, from growing up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to competitive figure skating in Denver, Colorado to being named the youngest Provost in Stanford University’s history. And that doesn’t even touch on her three tours of duty in Washington, DC, first as an intern at the Pentagon, then as a NSC staffer under the first President Bush, and finally as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under the younger Bush.

The majority of this memoir is dedicated to her childhood and adolescence and her relationship with her unerringly supportive parents. Rice’s story is full of interesting connections and coincidences – one of the four little girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham church was a playmate; her parents lived at one point next to the parents of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they shared a seder meal with them; her interest in the Soviet Union and international politics was first sparked by Professor Joseph Korbel , the father of President Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. All of which made for an interesting read, but I found the most fascinating parts to be her childhood memories of growing up in segregated Birmingham and her family’s and friends’ responses to inequality and racism. It is a unique perspective on an aspect of American history whose repercussions are still felt.

Rice rarely touches on anything overtly political, though her brief discussion of her father’s politics and her own relationship with the Republican Party were both interesting. This book will not appeal to hard core detractors of Dr. Rice; anyone who admires her, is curious about her, or feels only indifference will find something of value in this book. ( )
2 vote katiekrug | Mar 19, 2012 |
Condoleezza Rice's family memoir covers the period of time from her childhood to her father's death, which occurred shortly after the 2000 presidential election as Rice prepared to join the President's staff as National Security Advisor. I listened to the audio version read by the author and I felt like she was in the room having a conversation with me. I liked what I knew of her before I listened to the book, and I like her even more now. She's still relatively young, and she has already participated in so many historic events during her childhood in segregated Birmingham, in her academic career at Stanford, and in her service in Washington under both Bushes.

Some parts of the book were difficult for me to listen to. I have a lot in common with Dr. Rice. Our mothers were musicians, our fathers were preachers who left full-time ministry for careers in college and university administration, we both began piano lessons at an early age, we both work in academia, we both love football, we both lost our mothers to cancer, and we both lost our fathers several years later. The episodes surrounding her parents' final illnesses and deaths brought back painful memories, particularly since my father's illness and death was so recent.

I wish more government officials were like Dr. Rice. She is able to disagree with others' ideas and opinions without being disagreeable. This book should appeal to readers across the political spectrum. Readers will find a lot to admire, and not much, if anything, to cause offense. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Feb 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307587878, Hardcover)

Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist.  Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman - and the first black woman ever -- to serve as Secretary of State.
 
But until she was 25 she never learned to swim.
 
Not because she wouldn't have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he'd rather shut down the city's pools than give black citizens access.
 
Throughout the 1950's, Birmingham's black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last.  But by 1963, when Rice was applying herself to her fourth grader's lessons, the situation had grown intolerable.  Birmingham was an environment where blacks were expected to keep their head down and do what they were told -- or face violent consequences. That spring two bombs exploded in Rice’s neighborhood amid a series of chilling Klu Klux Klan attacks.  Months later, four young girls lost their lives in a particularly vicious bombing.
 
So how was Rice able to achieve what she ultimately did?
 
Her father, John, a minister and educator, instilled a love of sports and politics.  Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezza’s passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts.  From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community.  Her parents’ fierce unwillingness to set limits propelled her to the venerable halls of Stanford University, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the university’s second-in-command.  An expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs, she played a leading role in U.S. policy as the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Less than a decade later, at the apex of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, she received the exciting news – just shortly before her father’s death – that she would go on to the White House as the first female National Security Advisor. 
 
As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mother’s cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl – and a young woman -- trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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