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Condoleezza Rice: An American Life: A Biography

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Condoleezza Rice, one of the most powerful and controversial women in the world, has until now remained a mystery behind an elegant, cool veneer. New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller peels back the layers and presents a revelatory portrait of the first black female secretary of state and President George W. Bush’s national security adviser on September 11, 2001. Draw ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2007)
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John Gurney
Condoleezza Rice was America's first black National Security Adviser and first black female Secretary of State. One of this biography's strengths is its focus Rice's early life as the daughter of a minister in Birmingham, Alabama under Bull Connor. Her childhood was somewhat secure in a striving, middle class black home in the severely segregated city. Condoleezza was unusually mature for her age and incredibly dedicated. Her early love was classical piano. I hadn't known she was personally touc ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-big-read
Though this was published in 2007 and is therefore in need of an update I consider it pretty much essential and that's not only because of Condoleezza Rice herself. What's even more fascinating is the scarily intimate look at the inner-workings of the most dangerous American administration (by circumstance and by choice) since maybe ever. We go from 9/11 to the Iraq war and beyond and it's a revelatory and extremely tense experience. Condi Rice's story is very well laid out, from segregated Birm ...more
I chose this book for several reasons, one being that I had wanted to read a biography, another that I spotted this book at the library in February (and thought I could do something in honor of Black History Month), and most of all because Condoleeza Rice has been a person who has fascinated me and in some ways has reminded me of my mother with her apparent class and grace.

I was a bit disappointed with this book, however. The accounts of Rice's childhood and family background and education are
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An even-handed and engaging narrative about someone very different from myself. While I wouldn't want to emulate Rice's ambition, she does inspire me to pursue my own interests with more determination. As a child, Rice was a gifted pianist who devoted many hours to practicing. But more striking than that to me was her skating which she had no skill for at all, but continued to practice devotedly anyway.

Rice once told an eight-grade girl, "Don't ever let anybody set expectations for you of what y
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
As far as biographies go, this was a winner. And since this was the season for politics, I felt like this would be an interesting political read. I appreciated Rice's childhood information, the way her family raised her (despite segregation swirling around her ), her teenage life in Denver (as an ice skater and pianist as well!), while Provost at Stanford, and certainly during her tenure under President Bush. It is all too common when great people are given incredibly challenging circumstances t ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated to read that Condoleezza Rice was taught by Madeline Albright's father, Josef Korbel - and I would like to read more about him now!

The Elisabeth Bumiller book provided me with some knowledge about Condoleezza Rice. I was particularly interested in reading about her family background and early life. This material was handled well.

The book did not however, deliver the same level of understanding to Condoleezza's career in National Security and as Secretary of State. The close rela
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to read this book. Condoleezza Rice was someone I admired and of whom I wanted to know more. When I first began the book, I almost gave up. The author took a very negative view of Rice right from the beginning. It seemed like the author was intent on slandering Rice because of her closeness with the Bush family. I pushed through the introduction and was mildly surprised to see that the portrayal wasn’t as negative as it sounded like it might be during the preface. It still c ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Condoleezza Rice is a historical figure in her own right as well as a formidable fixture on the current political scene. Her accomplishments are so significant, numerous and far reaching that they are difficult to completely assemble into recognizable categories. Unfortunately, this author could not appreciably fathom the stature of the individual before her and this book, lacking much original thought, falls far short of any recommendation to read it. Condoleezza Rice is an intriguing individua ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography traces Condoleeza's life as a young girl in Birmingham, Alabama, growing up in Denver, Colorado, her career at Stanford, and finally her work in George Bush's administration. The book was not a glowing endorsement of Condoleeza Rice's work in the White House. Her parents worked hard to shelter their only child's childhood. Education and working was very important to her parents. I found her life in Birmingham most interesting. She lived there during the fight against segregation a ...more
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author tried to be balanced, which makes her assessment of Condi Rice a little too wishy-washy. While there was a good lead up from Rice's academic history to her decisions as Secretary of State, explaining her involvement in 9/11, I wished there was more analysis of how she fared compared to other Sec of States before her. Perhaps more of her personal emotions and political views could have been surfaced, as opposed to just boxing her as a political realist. Or maybe, Rice is really rather impe ...more
Mary Egan
I picked this book up because I wanted to know what makes Condoleezza Rice tick. Unfortunately, this biography doesn't provide a lot of revealing information beyond what we all know. The early chapters describing Rice's childhood as a minister's daughter in segregated Birmingham are interesting. But the book soon devolves into an analysis of all the missteps leading up to 9/11 and the Iraq war. I'm glad I read it, but still feel like something is missing.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Bumiller put this book together in a way that really helped me understand the Bush Administration's decision-making. I would give her a fifth star but I think the book worked so well for me because of all the previous reading I've done on this. Maybe she relied too heavily on Powell. Plus, Tolstoy gets 5 stars from me and Bumiller is no Tolstoy. (But she's a very good investigator/analyst/explainer.)
I've always been impressed with Condoleezza Rice and learning about her life was very interesting. It was a bit frightening to hear how some decisions were made in the Bush administration. I'd like to read her account, though because there were indications in this biography that there was some bias.
Glenn Robinson
Good basic book about Secretary Rice. A great deal of background of her upbringing, early life and time inside the Bush Administration. The book took a great deal of info from other books and offer very little analysis of her decisions. The writer did a fair job of pointing out the good as well as the warts. Not a strong bio, but a fair one.
Cyndie Todd
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As if I don't say it enough, I really enjoy biographies. And I prefer a biography over an autobiography if I have mixed feelings about the subject. So I enjoyed Bumiller's story of Rice's life. She had sufficient access and cooperation of Rice as well as many of those who worked and lived closely with her, those who have been supportive and those who have been critical.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book. Frightening, of course, snapshot of this administration--but really no big surprises there. I'm interested to see Condi's response to the book--I picked it up to try to prove that I'm not a die hard dem. and keep an open mind, but they didn't paint her in a very positive light!
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved the book! I learned a lot about her and I have a new respect for her. The way she tied the civil rights to her past was beautiful. I cannot help but think that she was at one point intimate with Georg Bush. I am disappointed, however about how she does not seem to appreciate her black heritage.
Bryan Craig
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, biography
This is probably the best biography on her to date. She actually conducted some interviews with her and her colleagues. If you want to learn more about her and the Bush administration, it is worth a look.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Current events readers
Very interesting, though biased (I thought) at times. I enjoyed learning about what Rice did before she became NSA and Secretary of State. I wasn't aware of how close she was to the bombing victims in Birmingham, AL.
Nov 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found it boring and she went on and on bragging about how her life was. It definitely put me to sleep at night. I never found an exciting part in this book that made me want to keep reading. This is the first book that I didn't finish reading, it was that bad.
A fascinating look at a former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State!

The political reading was a little dry for my tastes, but I loved reading about Condoleeza Rice, the person.
A comprehensive and somewhat unbiased chronicling of Condi's life and career, but in the end I felt myself asking, "To what end was this book written?"
Jennifer Webb Richards
Very an authorised biography
you get an understanding of how she became the
person she is.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed learning about Condoleezza but I didn't think the book was very well written.
May 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
A 50-50 split of info about her and developments in US history. A very topical view.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This month's ward book group read. Still waiting for it to get to the library.
Diana Look
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't think I was going to like it but it was truly interesting and quite impressive how she grew up to become one of the most powerful and respected women in politics today !
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read auto biographies - what a brilliant woman - there is alot to know and appreciate about her. Good read.
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now to read a book written by someone who respected Ms. Rice.
I know little about her other than she's accomplished a heck of a lot.
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Elisabeth Bumiller (born May 15, 1956) is an American author and journalist who is the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times.

Born in Aalborg, Denmark, to a Danish mother and American father, Bumiller moved to the U.S. when she was three years old. She moved to Cincinnati, where she graduated from Walnut Hills High School in 1974, and was inducted into their Alumni Hall of Fame on April 30,
More about Elisabeth Bumiller...

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