Katie's Reviews > Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice
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's review
Oct 24, 2011

liked it
Read from October 23 to 30, 2011

I don't agree with Condoleeza Rice's politics, but I respect her mind and ambition immensely. She's a brilliant musical, linguistic, and political mind. I'm listening to her memoir on CD, and am enjoying it from a distance. She is a sharp reflection of her upbringing: she focuses almost obsessively on skin color and class stratification, she uses bland adjectives like "beautiful," "inspiring," and "extraordinary" as though they are the pinnacle of grand description, and she speaks condescendingly of the "tough areas," "loose women," and "dark-skinned" citizens of segregated Birmingham, for whom her parents were Blind-Side-esque "mentors" and "champions." (The phrase "segregated Birmingham" appears about 25,000 times, though Rice deploys her "middle-class upbringing" in equal measure as a defense against the worst of racist circumstances in that city.)
Overall, this seems to be a Nice Book. It's inoffensive, bordering on boring. Rice is clearly privileged, and comes across as a goody-two-shoes. Listening to it while knitting is just about the only way I can imagine getting to this book, and for that exact circumstance, it works extremely well.

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