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Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > African-American & Black > 0307750639
  1. Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family
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  2. Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (168 reviews)
    Price R1222.00

Additional Information

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.

From the Hardcover edition.


Condoleezza Rice
Audio CD
Random House Audio
Random House Audio
Random House Audio
Random House Audio
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I started reading this book with a negative political and personal bias, but soon became absorbed with this extraordinary family story written by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice sheds a great deal of personal information about herself,her family and her experiences with race in the Deep South during the height of segregation and the Civil Rights movement. She consistently maintains her focus on family and her own self actualization, and does not get too caught up with President Bush and Republican politics.

Rice's autobiography is dramatically compelling and helps the reader understand her as an individual as well as providing insight about her political beliefs. Her story will be insightful to all readers regardless their of race or ethnicity. Nonetheless, as an African American female of her generation, I personally related to her Black middle class upbringing by extraordinary parents in the Deep South whose sacrifices developed many of us into the... Read more
Condoleezza Rice has written a well-deserved love letter to her parents, John and Angelena Rice, who raised the future U.S. Secretary of State under horrific circumstances: 1950s and '60s segregated Birmingham, Alabama. I am in awe of her parents and grandparents who did so much with so little, especially in a time of such violence, hatred and fear when the bonds of segregation were first broken. This is a story of sacrifice and love on their part and prodigious accomplishment on her part--academically and musically. And while the subject matter is fascinating, I found the writing to be less than riveting and often boring.
I loved the audio version on CDs, unabridged and read by the author. It was a joy to drive around and listen to her tell about the lives of her and her parents as they lived and made decisions in turbulent times. Her parents made incredible sacrifices for her, an only child. And she lived up to it by growing up to be a great human being and a wonderful daughter.

There are many parallels to the Laura Ingalls stories of growing up on the frontier after the Civil War. Laura's books can be read as the story of her parents trying to make a life outside of civilization, and then surviving the brutal North Dakota winters as civilization creeps toward them and over them. Condoleezza's book can be read on one level as the story of her parents in Birmingham, Denver and Palo Alto after the Civil Rights Act changed their world. In Laura's book it is heartbreaking when Pa gives his "little half pint" in marriage, knowing he will seldom see her again. In Condoleezza's book it is sad... Read more
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