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

Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice
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really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, audio-book, library

Overall, I found this to be an excellent read. I didn't really know very much at all about Condoleezza Rice, with the exception of her time as Secretary of State to George W. Bush and had heard she'd been provost at Stanford University shortly beforehand. Had no idea she was a Soviet specialist. I had a lot to learn.

I picked this book up because I found the audio book at our library and read that she'd also read it. I love finding audio books read by the author. I have been greatly appreciating the role and benefits of oral histories. I really enjoyed listening to Condoleezza as she talked about her life and her family.

There were many other things I appreciated about Condoleezza as an author as well as the content of this book. The book flowed in a meaningful way and didn't seem too fast or slow or too full of details. I enjoyed hearing about Birmingham from Condoleezza's perspective and really appreciated it when she pointed out that she'd been so young and thus it was likely that she didn't see all of the terrible things that were going on, but that the teenagers and adults had seen it and experienced it much differently. I could practically see the adults shielding their younger children when they could, and I could understand how they built up their communities in such a way that they wouldn't have to interact with the white folk. I also learned so much about the attitude of people during that time, of Condoleezza's teachers and mother telling her that she needed to be better, always better.

I found the story of her parents to be completely inspiring. I can only imagine how hard they worked and how proud they were of their daughter. It was similarly inspiring to hear how much Condoleezza accomplished. Talk about hard work. I similarly appreciated it when she was provost at Stanford and had minority students arguing with her about budget cuts, and one such student accused Condoleezza of being racist. Condoleezza shot off a comment about being black longer than the white-seeming student had been alive. I thought that was fantastic.

I also appreciated something else she'd said about the state of race and racism in America. She wrote that America wasn't a post-race society and probably never would be. Unfortunately, I think I have to agree with her, but like her, I also think we should acknowledge it and work toward making America a freer and more equal society. I understand how this, combined with her upbringing, contribute to her opinions about affirmative action. I'm not sure I feel the same way, but I appreciate her perspective and do think that affirmative action is a serious topic that we still need to talk about.

While some people probably wanted to hear more about Condoleezza's time with George W. Bush, I thought she ended it at just the right place. What a wonderful tribute to her parents and family. I definitely recommend this book.
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Reading Progress

May 25, 2012 – Started Reading
May 25, 2012 – Shelved
May 25, 2012 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 25, 2012 – Shelved as: audio-book
May 26, 2012 –
May 27, 2012 –
May 28, 2012 –
May 29, 2012 –
May 31, 2012 –
June 2, 2012 –
June 3, 2012 – Shelved as: library
June 3, 2012 – Finished Reading

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