Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review - No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washingon, Condoleezza Rice

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington


Condoleezza Rice

Category: nonfiction, memoir, Washington DC, politics, world

Date finished: 8 January 2013

Synopsis: Condoleezza Rice recounts her days as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the George W. Bush presidency.

Rating: ****

Comments: Wow. Whew. I made it. That’s a big book! For the first, I don’t know, 200-400 pages, I was disoriented, even a little resentful. This is boring! I thought. I hit my stride when I realized that this was not a memoir, it was not going to be personal, it was a recounting of her days as Secretary of State (and National Security Advisor), the nature of that job being tactfulness and diplomacy—and lack of personal opinion (at least stated personal opinions). It was like reading a world history book for the years 2001-2008. It was overwhelming, and I doubt that I’ll retain many of the facts that I read, but I’ll retain the ideas, and that’s enough for the future. For instance, I learned that Turkey wants to be considered European, but the Europeans will perhaps always see Turks as Easterners. Also, of course, I came away with a dire view of the Israel/Palestine conflict and the Middle East as a whole. Will peace be accomplished there in my lifetime and without a world war and much bloodshed? It seems hopeless. I admire and respect Condoleezza Rice. I did regret that there was no “memoir” here. In 740 pages, only a handful of times, and very briefly, did she get personal or talk about her family; I missed the warmth of her previous book. But I appreciate the experience that reading this book was. It will perhaps be obsolete in a few years, but perhaps not. It was a snapshot in time, and one that was ultimately worth the read. It also gives one an appreciation for the all-consuming nature of the Secretary of State position; on call at all hours, boarding a plane at a moment’s notice, juggling situations and personalities and cultures that conflict at all points. It takes a remarkable woman to be able to take on that job and survive it with grace. What a debt of gratitude we owe to these people.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Only if that friend is as much a nut about politics as I am.

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