Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family
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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,829 ratings  ·  404 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
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Published (first published October 12th 2010)
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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.
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
Gordon Nickerson
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
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...more
Michelle Wegner
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
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
Oct 11, 2011 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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
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

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...more
I think this book made me admire Condoleezza Rice more. I gained a much better appreciation for how qualified she really was for her position (even if you don't support her, you can't argue now that she wasn't experienced). Her life really was amazing and she accomplished so much. She knew so many amazing people. After reading the book, in some ways, I wish her mother or father could have written it based on how interesting their lives must have been. I don't think Rice showed a whole lot of emo...more
Really enjoyed this book. I have long been a fan of Condoleezza Rice and after reading this, now I know why. Her success began with loving parents who put family first and were examples of hard work, high moral standings, and integrity. No excuses in this family. You reap what you sow.
I enjoyed this book. It was an easy read, almost grade school easy. If there was two things that I took from this book it was getting an education and making good contacts. I thought it was interesting that she went to a local college and then got her masters degree from Notre Dame and PhD from University of Denver. No Ivy League schools! That surprised me. But it was all in her contacts along the way that got her to be Secretary of State.
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
The beauty of reading. This title is written by someone with whom I cannot politically disagree with more! However, Rice's tale of growing up, coming of age, and evolving into an accomplished woman, all with the adoration of her parents, makes for a great read. Condie's Extrodinary, Ordinary People is a real page turner.
Gerrit Egnew
Completely aside from Rice's inability to construct a book with anything but clichés, I found it tedious to read the life story of a privileged woman (race notwithstanding). Undeniably, Rice has achieved a great deal, but her attempt in this book to dramatize her life and make her successes seem to come from strife falls flat.
I always thought that Dr. Rice was such an accomplished, level-headed, rational person; how could someone like her get mixed up with George W. Bush & Co.?

I was a bit disappointed that the book did not address her role in Bush 43's administration; however, it does state in the title that it was a memoir of family, and true to the title, it ended with her father's death shortly after the election.

I felt that the writing was a bit simplistic, but it was very readable. Her warm and loving relat...more
The writing certainly didn't carry me away, but it was clear and easy to read. I wanted a little more depth and a little less name dropping. However, it made for some great conversation and, like usual, getting a glimpse into someone else's life was rewarding.
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.
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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
More about Condoleezza Rice...
No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me A Safer and Better World Iraq in U. S. Foreign Policy: Testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations, U. S. Senate, by the Honorable Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State The Soviet Union And The Czechoslovak Army, 1948 1983: Uncertain Allegiance

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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.” 9 likes
“... it's good to have female or minority role models. But the important thing is to have mentors who care about you, and they come in all colors.” 8 likes
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