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.
This is compelling reading. Dr. Rice has a clear no-nonsense voice that translates well into the written word. Rather than give a traditional synopsis review, let me share a few reasons I enjoyed her story.
- As a fan of memoirs in general, this one does an excellent job of providing great background, not only on the author herself but her ancestors, her extended family and the times into which she was born.
- So much of this book is like having a front row seat to history. From Birmingham, Alabama in the 1950s and 60s to the fall of the Soviet Union, Dr. Rice shares her perspective on events that shaped our nation.
- The themes that run through the book are inspiring. For example, her appreciation of the sacrifices her parents made to help her succeed; and their commitment to instilling in her values like perseverance, appreciation of the fine arts, and voluntarism.
While I don't always agree with her politics, it was easier to see (after reading the book) how and why she is a conservative. I also appreciated that she included a bit about her sorority experience, including a group picture on the front lawn of the UD Alpha Chi Omega house.
Extraordinary, Ordinary People is the first of three books Dr. Rice is scheduled to write. I hope the two that follow are as good as the first!