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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,463 Ratings  ·  490 Reviews
Having served under two Bush presidencies—as national security advisor and secretary of state—Rice is well known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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Nov 05, 2010 Fletcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I live in Birmingham. I grew up in the segregated south. I am impressed with anyone (white or black) that can come out of the mess of those times with such grace and forgiveness. She is an amazing woman. She sets the bar high and has little sympathy for folks who cry discrimination. She holds only herself accountable for her strengths and weaknesses. She credits her incredible parents for her work ethic and for always believing in her.
Mar 25, 2016 Cher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, memoir-bio
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

This was the most interesting memoir I have ever read, though to be fair the memoir genre is not one I frequently visit. Condoleezza Rice has led a fascinating life, and I view her as a highly intelligent, independent, sophisticated, well-rounded, graceful, courageous, self-sufficient, determined woman that is leading a very fulfilling life, which includes choosing a childfree path for herself. You could say I'm a fan.

I was impressed reading about her experien
Mar 09, 2011 Demetria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleeza Rice, because it speaks to me. My parents grew up in the South, but my family has none of the experiences that most people think of when they think of the southern living in the 50s. There are three reasons for this:

1. My grandparents were educated .My grandmother was a midwife who worked in the local community. I don’t know what my grandfather did for a living but I know he worked outside of the home.

2. My grandparents own
Dawn Trlak-Donahue
Although I do not agree with her politically, I have a ton of respect for Dr. Rice. Her story is really interesting and her parents seem great.
Scott Taylor
During the Bush years, I was always impressed at how level-headed Condi seemed. This book confirms that it was more than an act, she actually appears to be very similar in her real personality. Steady, stable, good background, avoided many of the pitfalls people fall into during their youth. She was a practiced and accomplished pianist, figure skater, and diplomacy nut. Her family provided her with a framework that really allowed her to accomplish anything she set her mind to doing.

That being sa
Jan 11, 2012 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
The title of this book definitely fits the bill; all of the Rice's were just that, absolutely extraordinary. I listened to this book, and loved that Condoleezza Rice was the narrator. Not only did I learn immensely about the author, but I also grew to appreciate her and admire her myriad of accomplishments. It interested me to discover that she had ties to Colorado, having graduated from DU, and having lived in Denver for several years. I liked how she said that she feels a great connection and ...more
Michelle Wegner
Jan 05, 2011 Michelle Wegner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always admired Condolezza Rice from afar. She seems poised, put-together, confident, yet humble. Reading her memoir was truly a delight. I was interested in her life, but ended up fascinated by it.

The thing that drew me in to her story was the relationship she had with her parents. She never claimed her parents did everything right, or were perfect, but what they did do right was stellar in my opinion. They were raising a leader intentionally from birth, and we have tried to raise our 3
Aug 15, 2011 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected to like this book a lot, but it just rubbed me wrong. Almost every page repeated how difficult it was to grow up black in the South (which I'm sure was true) and that she is faced every day with the fact she is a black woman. Did someone react to her in a certain way because she is black? Did she get noticed and rewarded because she was black? She did benefit from affirmative action and discusses this several times. The book is an homage to her parents who were educated themselves and ...more
Gordon Nickerson
Dec 14, 2011 Gordon Nickerson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama as a black American during the Civil Rights era and remaining completely unscathed would undoubtedly be impossible. Though throughout much her of childhood, Condoleezza Rice’s parents were able to insulate her from the most obscene of Birmingham’s racism. However, by the early 1960s it grew impossible to shield her from such heinous crimes as the church bombings and neighborhood shootings that were becoming ever more common. But as her memoir Extraordinary, Ordi ...more
Oct 11, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Christopher
While not elegantly written, Ms. Rice's memoir is compelling, direct, and almost charming. It is also exceedingly well titled. John and Angelena Rice were indeed a fairly ordinary couple of citizens (their relative prosperity and comfort in 1960s Birmingham notwithstanding), but their devotion to their daughter's education was certainly a bit extreme, and her subsequent success was (and is) without a doubt extraordinary.

I wasn't necessarily surprised that Ms. Rice started college at 15 or that s
Oct 08, 2014 Darrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. Condoleezza Rice's book chronicles her family history and carries us through the decades before she serves in the country as Bush's Secretary of State. As a little girl, she became a first-hand witness to the racial drama occurring in Birmingham during the turbulent 1960's. But the most memorable thing in this book is the story of the sacrifices that her loving parents made so that she can shoot as high as she can and become the Condoleezza Rice that we have seen in the public eye. Rice ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Rice has truly had an extraordinary life and I enjoyed hearing about all aspects of it -- from her time growing up in segregated Birmingham to her life as a teen in Denver and her pursuit of classical piano, to college, her work in the government, and her time on Stanford faculty. Her clear love and admiration for her parents shines through all aspects of this book and her perspective on everything from racism, sexism, world cultures, and global politics was fascinating. Did this one on audio an ...more
Mar 31, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is foremost a tribute to Condoleezza Rice's parents, and I think that's what she intended it to be. In the telling of this story, a glimpse of Condoleezza comes through, but I'm sure the glimpse is not the sum of this extraordinary, ordinary woman.

Having parents who were involved in my upbringing (and of my siblings') in a manner similar to Condoleezza's, I understood her need to celebrate her parents. In that respect, we had similar upbringings in a nest that such a loving family c
Jun 12, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I had the opportunity to see Ms. Rice speak during the author's breakfast at last year's Book Expo America (May 2010) in New York City. She gave a compelling speech that even led Jon Stewart, host of the breakfast, and political adversary - if you will - to state, "Don't.Make.Me.Like.You...." I think hers was a story worth telling, for sure. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1960's in the middle of the civil rights movement. Yet, her parents didn't allow the discrimination, inherent ...more
Jan 12, 2011 Felina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just wow.

The first part of this book outlines Condy's childhood growing up in the very segregated and especially tense Birmingham, AL during the height of the civil rights movement. Condy's father was a very influential minister and rubbed elbows with all of the great movement leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr.

As someone born in 1983 it always shocks we when I am reminded that segregation was prevalent during the life time of my parents. Its stupid that it shocks me but it does. It
Dec 14, 2011 JC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-firsttime, kindle, 2011
If you know much about politics then you more than likely know who Condoleezza Rice is or have at least heard of her. I honestly had no idea who she was before picking this book up but I was totally captivated by the story of how she went from living in the segregated suppressed south to becoming the first black female Secretary of State. This book is a memoir of her early life through to her selection by the second President Bush to become his National Security Advisor. Condoleezza focuses a lo ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not well written. I listened to the recorded version while working. She narrates, which usually I enjoy. It can be nice to hear the authors voice. Angela's Ashes, read by McCourt was phenomenal. Stilted, and not so great her narration.

What was good? Her parents were probably sincere and real Christians. I let Jesus define the term and he said you must be born again. In other words being a "good person", or your own "works" does not get the job done. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory
Apr 09, 2013 Nfreynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listen to the audio book and liked that the author wss the reader. It is a very personal book about her family and herself. Her parents were both exceptional in that they made her (an only child) their highest priority. She had a lot of natural talents and her parents gave her every advantage they could. I found it especially interesting to hear about middle- and upper-middle class black families (so much is written about poor black families) in the South during Segregation. Her parents were b ...more
Sep 03, 2011 Chivon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book by Condoleeza Rice because it put a human feel to a very public figure. I didn't have a favorable opinion of Condoleeza Rice until I read this book. There was so much negativity associated with George W.Bush at the end of his presidency and I always just associated her with George Bush. After reading this biography I learned that there was so much more to this person and that she was very down to earth and had a strong connection with her parents. This was a bi ...more
Mar 02, 2011 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave this a five star rating, but the writing style is a little too correct, too stilted, too formal. What does come across, though, is what marvelous parents Condoleezza Rice had, what tremendous support they provided her, and what opportunities they provided (often with much sacrifice), so it seems appropriate that the book ends with her father's death rather than with her years in the State Department. Although the book centers around her, as her parents' lives did, her life really t ...more
marcus miller
An interesting book which shares about the life of Condoleezza Rice and her parents. I found the first part of the book to be the most interesting. This is where Rice described growing up in segregated Birmingham, Mississippi. Rice seems to have led a relatively sheltered life and rarely ran into white folks. Her descriptions of the divisions in the black community, based on economic class and skin color were also helpful. A lot of Americans would benefit from reading this part of her story as I ...more
Jun 18, 2013 Derrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Condoleeza's parents were a very loving couple to their child and are excellent models for raising quality children. This totally shows it was worth the investment in their daughter to get her to where she help many positions of power and influence many important policies.
I was a little disappointed and surprised that in ended with the Bush victory in 2000. It was more of a story about her parents than it was about her, which was an interesting approach for a "biograp
Aug 17, 2012 Vicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rice is to be Montana State University's Freshman Convocation speaker this fall and so her memoir has gotten a lot of publicity. She is sometimes in Bozeman in the summers to play with the Muir Quartet. Her return to the concert stage is one of the things about her life that interests me the most, but this memoir explores many aspects of her life, particularly growing up in Birmingham, the most segregated big city of the South in the late 50s, and later in Denver. Her parents, John Wesley and An ...more
Robert Melnyk
Apr 06, 2013 Robert Melnyk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story about the life of Condoleezza Rice. She is an amazing woman, extremely bright, talented, and driven. But what impressed me most were her parents. Truly incredible people and parents. They took a deep interest in their daughter's life, and were always there to support and encourage her. One statement that particularly impressed me was when she was talking about her parents, and her extended family while growing up in Jim Crow Birmingham, Alabama, "Whatever feelings of insec ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Tabatha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 powerful 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 ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to an audio version of this title. Loved the narration by Ms. Rice. It's a very interesting book about her family, their devotion to her and each other and about her growing up in segregated Birmingham. While I don't agree with all her political ideations, I enjoyed listening to her discuss her thoughts on affirmative action and why she is a proponent of it. A very worthwhile read.
Oct 03, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what an amazing book, and an amazing woman.

It was heartwarming to learn of her early life, and all the sacrifices her parents made for her. It's no wonder that Ms. Rice has achieved the successes that she has.

I have always admired Ms. Rice and this book just solidified my admiration for her, and now for her family as well for instilling the importance of education.
Jan 12, 2012 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Condoleezza Rice grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama. Her family and community, however, provided a nurturing and secure environment. Education was the key. She and her family never considered themselves victims of segretation, but tried to be "twice as good" at everything. And Condoleezza excelled at most everything and came into her own on the West Coast, at Stanford. The rest is history. So, from not being allowed to eat at the Tutwiler Hotel in downtown Birmingham prior to 1963, she we
Jan 14, 2011 MaryLynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at how much I liked this book. I learned a lot from it. Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1954. I would have thought she would be scarred by the rampant racism and violence, but her memoir explains that middle class black families in some ways benefited from the imposed segregation of the races. Her college educated parents made sure that she was completely isolated from the white community and their myriad ways of demeaning the blacks. She never rode a bus, ne ...more
J.S. Dunn
Aug 20, 2015 J.S. Dunn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear, crisp and intelligent writing; an unexpectedly touching memoir. Insightful and balanced opinions -- how rare is that these days? Condi Rice is even more impressive on the page as in televised interviews or giving a speech in person. One of those few people who would make dinner a memorable occasion no matter who else was at the table.
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Condoleezza Rice is the 66th United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush to hold the office. Rice is the first black woman, second African American (after her predecessor Colin Powell, who served from 2001 to 2005), and the second woman (after Madeleine Albright, who served from 1997 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration) to serve as Secretary ...more
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“...if you are overdressed, it is a comment on them. If you are under dressed, it is a comment on you.” 10 likes
“Race is a constant factor in American life. Yet reacting to every incident,real or imagined, is crippling, tiring, and ultimately counterproductive.” 10 likes
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