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Madam Secretary: A Memoir

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  7,711 ratings  ·  419 reviews
In this outspoken and much-praised memoir, the highest-ranking woman in American history shares her remarkable story and provides an insider's view of world affairs during a period of unprecedented turbulence. A national bestseller on its first publication in 2003, Madam Secretary combines warm humor with profound insights and personal testament with fascinating additions ...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published April 6th 2005 by Miramax Books (first published 2001)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  7,711 ratings  ·  419 reviews

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Cristina Darabut
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Long book. :) Still I appreciated 3 things:
- 1st is personal: never stop learning. No matter how tired, how busy or how bored you might be, train your mind.
- 2nd is related to the way she wrote the book. The first 300 pages are quite easy to read because she outlines her personal life from the moment she was born until her divorce. From there on she concentrates on explaining the international context and the way she handled the different situations as a State Secretary.
- 3rd comes from the 2nd
In 2012 I read Albright’s “Prague Winter” (my favorite one so far). Then in 2018 I read her book on “Fascism A Warning”. In April 2020 I read her most recent memoir entitled “Hell and Other Destructions” which covers the period after being Secretary of State to the current time. I had been examining the books she had written and realized I had not read her most important memoir of her time a Secretary of State. I have now corrected that over-site by reading “Madam Secretary: A memoir” published ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Madam Secretary: A Memoir, Madeleine K. Albright
In this outspoken and much-praised memoir, the highest-ranking woman in American history shares her remarkable story and provides an insider's view of world affairs during a period of unprecedented turbulence. A national bestseller on its first publication in 2003, Madam Secretary combines warm humor with profound insights and personal testament with fascinating additions to the historical record.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دهم ماه می سال 2009 میلادی
ا. شرب
Hannah Notess
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Now after reading this I know things about Mogadishu! And Kosovo! Did you know we fought a war there, you guys?

Seriously I learned a lot, and while I'm not necessarily on board with how the U.S. throws its weight around in the world, I feel like I have a much better understanding of why and how that happens after reading this book.

And there are some funny jokes; I like her sense of humor.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Albright's autobiography, "Prague Winter," so much, I decided to read this earlier biography which focuses almost entirely on her years as Ambassador to the UN and then Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. The book spends a few short chapters on her life before she assumed these two positions - fleeing Czechoslovakia for England with her parents just ahead of the Nazis in 1937, returning to Czechoslovakia after the war only to flee from the Russians to the US with her famil ...more
Lisa Koch
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Behind my grandparents, my #1 hero in the world. This book is so good. If she had been born in the US, I would give up everything to help her be the president. But part of what makes her so amazing is her Eastern European lineage, her family's escape, her passion for that part of the world (and the work she did in that area on behalf of the UN and the State Dept - some of which is detailed in this book). Her work in Africa was amazing. I cried as I read her accounts of the genocide in the Balkan ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found Albright's memoir an extremely well written and informative book about her time as US Ambassador to the UN and Secretary of State in the 1990's.  The memoir also touches on her personal life and addresses some of the challenges of being the only woman (or one of the very few) in the highest levels of government.  The first half of the book sheds light on her personal life and her slow rise to prominence.  She states that her rise to become the first female Secretary of State is an unlike ...more
Nov 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political science dorks
She's a bright woman, but a little single-minded in her relentless support of american style democracy as a one-size-fits-all solution. While conspicuously self deprecating at times, her pride overwhelms any and all second guessing. She was right, everybody else was wrong.
The North Korea chapter was a treat. The Israel-Palestine negotiations section maddening.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting autobiography of the first woman Secretary of State. Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia. During World War II her family fled to London. Then when communism took over their country, her family came to the United States. It really shouldn't have been a surprise that Albright got involved with foreign policy since her father was an ambassador before the war.

Albright did a lot as Secretary of State. She had to deal with Israel and the PLO, North Korea, Saddam H
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Wellesley grads, working women, women who do too much
This book is one of my favorites. Her stories are so deeply female -- in that she says before she would go on her overseas trips as secretary, she would try on all the outfits she was packing to make sure they fit. She touchingly says of her marriage that it was the thing that gave her the most pleasure in life and she misses it greatly. She talks of how hard she worked to help Bosnia and to bring about peace in the Middle East. It is a wonderful read. I think of it often. And she is a fellow We ...more
Winter Sophia Rose
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Detailed, Informative, Fascinating & Inspiring!!! I Enjoyed It!!!
Kaleb Rogers
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The former Secretary's account of her life is truly inspiring. Focusing mostly on her work as Ambassador to the United Nations and her role as the first female Secretary of State, the book takes the reader through the incredibly labor intensive and - often tedious - work of the United States' chief diplomat. Albright's dedicated effort toward learning languages, hosting forums for intellectual discussion, and flat out spunk are extremely fun to read along. She made me laugh several times with so ...more
A highly interesting and candid memoir from a woman who made her way from the destruction of post-Second World War Europe to one of the highest governmental positions in the United States. Albright recounts her achievements and involvements in an engaging, forceful, and funny manner; while I don't agree with all her political stances or methods (she's perhaps a little one-size-fits-all in her advocacy of American-style democracy throughout the globe), I love that what she wants to be remembered ...more
Ryan Moore
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always admired Secretary Albright especially for her work in the Balkans. I remember watching her give a speech to the Serbian people in Serbo-Croatian. I meant a lot to me then and now that she was able to give the speech in their language. Even as a foreign policy wonk she holds a special place for me because she's the first Sec of State that I remember. She digs into wonderfully delicious details not only of her life but of the foreign policy of her time. She reminds us not to let anyone ...more
Teele Murphy
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, memoir
Albright's memoirs are poignant, funny, reflective, irreverent, and above all, enlightening. She said in the beginning that she didn't want to just describe events and her role in them, but to really engage with everything that happened, and she succeeded immensely. Sprinkled with wit and humor, Albright takes us through her time before serving President Clinton and then her role as UN Ambassador and Secretary of State. Though very much written in 2003, she weighs the good and the bad of her tim ...more
I LOVED this book! Perhaps, I'm a little biased because I love Madeleine Albright and more than lean left politically, but this book is really well written.

Obviously, this book is rather dense. She covers not only her story, but more than half a century of global history as well. Obviously, it's a lot to follow, but Madeleine Albright presents this history through her own personal experiences with anecdotes and a very direct style of writing. It's a surprisingly easy read given the tough subjec
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Madeleine Albright has had a very interesting life, personal and public. She devoted the first half of this book to telling her unique story, often using humor to lighten the load of the heavy effect of WWII on her family. The second half of this book, however, gets bogged down with global history from her time as ambassador to the UN and as Secretary of State. The behind-the-scenes stories about her encounters with various world leaders of the era were ultimately interesting and entertaining, a ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Madeleine Albright is a helluva woman. She has such an inherent sense of groundedness. It helps, too, that she is smarter than almost everyone else. In this memoir, Albreight manages to capture her voice and transmit her warmth, humor and sense of political fairness. She admits when she resorts to dirty tricks! This is a fascinating read just to learn about her life--an extraordinary journey in itself, but taken within the historical context of her ascension into politics, it is compelling. She ...more
Women's National Book Association of New Orleans
The Women's National Book Association sent this book to the White House today (March 7) in honor of Women's History Month:

From the Women's National Book Association's press release:

Madame Secretary: A Memoir by Madeline Albright, the first woman to be U.S. secretary of state, is a memoir of her path to this important position, filled with extensive insights into international affairs, hotspots in U.S. foreign policy, and how Albright navigated the delicat
Jamie Shew
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I enjoyed the first part of this book but bogged down into the second half. Her writing changes between the two parts of the book. In the first half, she is engaged in telling a remarkable story of her childhood and how she fought her way for respect as an adult. The second half, while interesting, becomes very detailed and loses its way as she discusses her time as Secretary of State. I find Madeleine Albright a fascinating person and encourage everyone to try this book.
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Madeleine Albright jumped to the top of my Most Admired Women list after I got into this fascinating story of her personal and political lives. She is brilliant, industrious and resilient- and weathered passages that would have brought many people down for good. She is a huge contributor to international diplomacy and a worthy feminine model, and this volume does a good job of describing why.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs
Recommended to Chris by: Discovery Channel - HR
I know... I can't believe this is on my list of "read books" either... long story.

Book was really good though, never even knew what Madeleine Albright's significance was. Very interesting lady... went through alot to make it where she is today.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazing
Man! You have no idea how much I enjoyed this book. Really very well written and interesting even for those who are not interested in politics. I know a lot of people hate Madeleine Albright but I am proud she comes from z Czech Republic. Nobody ever made it as far as she.
Ana Porras
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is long and dense, but its topics are relevant to modern day politics. It was fascinating to read about specifically the experiences of the first female secretary of state. A must-read for anyoen interested in foreign policy
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Brilliant insight into the life and work of United States' first female Secretary of State. ...more
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone with nothing better to do
though there's some nice behind the scenes history, and she's a formidable character...i'm not sure that i'm going to ever finish this book. life's too short. this book is too long. ...more
Bill Tress
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rumpole, general-read
I found this book inspiring! First, the story is about the best virtues of America namely, a light in this dark world, and a force for human rights. It inspired me because it is about an immigrant girl/woman who is gifted intellectually and is driven to be all she she can be because of the principals bestowed on her by her parents.
The early part of the book describes her success as a student who is recognized and mentored by college professors and the political contacts she makes that propel her
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the third memoir I have read by a female Secretary of State about her experience as the Secretary. First, I read Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton. Second, I read No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice. Now, I have finished Madeleine Albright's memoir. Each memoir touches on the hot spots around the world and how they dealt with their counterparts in the different countries.
Madeleine was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1937. Josef Korbel, Madeleine's father, was involved in politics and ser
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, 2020
Man this book was LONG. It took me so many weeks to finish. It was interesting, but still difficult to finish just because it was so dense and detailed.

I was a kid and teenager during the time when Madeleine Albright was Secretary of State, so I remember the foreign events of those years only generally. I really had no idea of how much went on behind the scenes. Even though I don’t fully line up with her politically, I really respect her after reading so much about her life and from her viewpoin
Ling Chung
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of my favourite memoirs.

Fascinating account of an immigrant's ascend to US' Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration.

Light but colourful touch on growing up in troubled Europe in the WWII era as a diplomat's daughter.

Relatable account on what it was like to be a high ranking government staffer in the 80s balancing family, career and a divorce.

Absolutely engaging Cole's notes on recent history spanning from Rwanda Genocide, Kosovo War, Israel-Palestinian conflict, Gulf
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Madeleine Korbel Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelová) was the first woman to become United States Secretary of State. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996 and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate 99-0. She was sworn in on January 23, 1997.

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