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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family | [Condoleezza Rice]

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"[R]ecords a thrilling, inspiring life of achievement."(Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (185 )
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  •  
    Balakrishna Kennesaw, GA, United States 10-29-10
    Balakrishna Kennesaw, GA, United States 10-29-10 Member Since 2008
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    "March without a march"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger arcadia, CA, United States 10-17-10
    Roger arcadia, CA, United States 10-17-10 Member Since 2002
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    "A truly amazing family."

    A truly amazing parents. Very interesting to hear of her experiences growing up as a young black girl in the south.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 04-19-12
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 04-19-12 Member Since 2005

    mcubed33

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    "A loving tribute to a loving family"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Bethel, OH, United States 03-03-11
    Steve Bethel, OH, United States 03-03-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Fabulous!"

    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!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill New Lenox, IL, United States 12-06-10
    Bill New Lenox, IL, United States 12-06-10
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    "Extraordinary"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sallie Sutherland, VA, United States 11-22-10
    Sallie Sutherland, VA, United States 11-22-10
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    "Thoroughly Enjoyed It!"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kimberlytere United States 07-27-14
    kimberlytere United States 07-27-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Awesome book!"
    If you could sum up Extraordinary, Ordinary People in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, inspiring and entertaining.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tabatha Bensalem, Pa 07-09-14
    Tabatha Bensalem, Pa 07-09-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Amazing life story...."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 09-25-12
    Lisa 09-25-12
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    "No Blame or Excuses needed; She is awesome!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    To hear Condoleezza speak about her issues growing up during a very difficult time and sharing the good times was great.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Extraordinary, Ordinary People?

    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.


    What does Condoleezza Rice bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    To hear Condoleezza speak really helps the reader hear the emotion of the story.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Camilla INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, United States 08-27-12
    Camilla INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2012
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    "New presepective on the life of Condoleeza Rice."
    What made the experience of listening to Extraordinary, Ordinary People the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Her relationship with her parents.


    What does Condoleezza Rice bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hearing it in her voice made it more believeable.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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