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. Condoleezza's father, John, a minister and educator, instilled in her 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.
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.
©2010 Condoleezza Rice (P)2010 Random House Audio
"[R]ecords a thrilling, inspiring life of achievement."(Publishers Weekly)
A wonderful story of march of 3 people marching to end segregation without marching in public. An inspiring story about human struggle, focus and determination. Must listen.
A truly amazing parents. Very interesting to hear of her experiences growing up as a young black girl in the south.
This is a very personal and illuminating account of Condoleeza Rice???s childhood in Birmingham, Alabama through her early years as a professor and as Provost at Stanford University. Very well written and memorable stories, particularly from her Birmingham days. Her descriptions of family and church activities reminded me very much of my own upbringing in southern California. In my case there was, however, the very great difference that I was not barred from most of the restaurants in town, nor relegated to back entrances to doctors??? offices, and never threatened by armed bands who were apparently being encouraged by the infamous ???Bull??? Connor and the local police.
A very worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in Condoleeza Rice or in gaining a better understanding of racial segregation as it existed in the South before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
From Michelle Carver - I rarely write reviews but I simply had to with this book. This book is not a political book about her term under President Bush. And you don't need to agree with her politically to find yourself absolutely enthralled by this book. As the title suggests, this is a memoir of her family history, how she was raised, the choices her amazing parents made to help her become who she is today. Besides being a very engaging writer, I thoroughly enjoyed her narration as well. I found myself completely sucked into the book unable to turn it off even late into the night, like a good fiction novel might capture me. She was raised in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights movement and her completely thorough description of everyday life as a black family carving out a piece of happiness through those tumultuous times was simply astounding. The details she recalls paint a completely clear picture, I could see what she was describing and it was terrific, every stage of her life fascinating. She's completely amazing and I hope she writes more, I'll definitely read it. Two thumbs up!!!
Because Ms. Rice is extraordinary, the story of her parents and family is extraordinary. It gave me great pleasure to see how the sacrifice and foundational love of her family made Condoleezza Rice a reality in this world.
Although we are quite different our families were very much the same. Many of her stories caused me to reflect on my parents (now deceased) and helped me to recognize how extraordinary the ordinary people in my own life have been.
Toward the end, I hesitated beginning a chapter as I thought it would be the final chapter. I was relieved each time when a new chapter began. Unfortunately, there IS a final chapter. I loved listening to Condoleezza talk about Condoleezza! I didn't want my listening experience to end. She is definitely extraordinary, herself.
Interesting, inspiring and entertaining.
Regardless of your political affiliation, this is a story about family, love, dedication and triumph over pain. It is beautifully written and I love that Ms. Rice read it herself.
Regardless of your political views, Condoleezza Rice's story illustrates the american dream. Raised during a time of horrible racial tension, through education and being raised with a strong sense of self, she became a power presence in american politics and culture. Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about her, aside of the fact that she is a very polarizing individual. After reading this book, I must admit that I am now a bit smitten with Condi. She is a powerful women with the courage to stand by her beliefs. I may not agree with all of her views, but I respect her immensely. The sacrifices her parents were willing to make for her seem limitless. The fact that she admits not being as appreciative as she should have been and to being a procrastinator endeared her to me. In my mind, she is much more approachable and she is truly an extraordinary, ordinary person.
To hear Condoleezza speak about her issues growing up during a very difficult time and sharing the good times was great.
To hear how much her parents supported her and gave everything to her that they could and would even find a way to get her what they could not afford is a true Parent's love story.
To hear Condoleezza speak really helps the reader hear the emotion of the story.
When her parents registered to vote and how her mother was given a simple question and passed so she was able to register as a democrat. Her father with darker skin was given an impossible question and he failed to register as a democrat. So he found a way to register...with the Republican Party. It is not the fact that her parents registered for one party or the other, but the story shed light on how they were excluded.
I found the book enjoyable and I learned more than I expected to. I had always thought Ms. Rice was an extraordinary person, but I never realized how ordinary she was. I found her story real and could relate to her relationship with her parents, family and friends.
I have always respected her all of her accomplishments. I found myself agreeing with her feelings about former President Carter (he was also the first president I voted for) and I felt sad when her parents passed away. This book made Ms. Rice seem more real to me.
Her relationship with her parents.
Hearing it in her voice made it more believeable.
I thought it was funny that when she graduated high school and her name was misspelled on her diploma and her mom returned it to the school requesting a new diploma with the corrected name. It was only until much later after Ms. Rice had lamented the details of why she did not have a diploma that the school sent her a new diploma with the corrected name. I though that was funny and it spoke volumns about how ordinary she was.
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