Condoleezza on her childhood

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

My father recommended Condoleezza Rice's book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People and let me borrow it when I was home over Thanksgiving. She writes about growing up in segregated Birmingham and overcoming the challenges of her parents' illnesses and her mother's early death from Cancer. Rice also talks about her rise to power and outstanding education.

Love her or hate her, Rice has an interesting story, is genuinely intelligent and has achieved more than most women at an early stage in life. She forfeited the stay-at-home-mom and wife role to earn a doctorate degree and become an expert on Soviet culture. Later, she earned tenure at Stanford and agreed to participate in political roles.

Rice began life with an excellent base. Both of her parents were educators and cared about culture and music. They raised their daughter to be an accomplished pianist, at times even sacrificing dreams such as owning a house to make sure she went to the best schools and had competent instructors. Rice was even pretty good on the ice rink. There's a funny yet deflating moment in this memoir where she admits to herself she's just too tall to be a competitive ice skater. (Did she ever try ice hockey?)

While the book is mostly void of overt political overtones, I'm still surprised that she became a fierce Republican. Most of the right leaders during her segregated childhood fought to keep "blacks and whites separate." Her father, clearly a strong influence throughout her life, was a conservative Christian and also voted as a Republican.

If you need a bit of inspiration in your own life for greater things, check out Extraordinary, Ordinary People. Rice's book is a quick, interesting read.

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