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Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

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In this captivating memoir for young people, looking back with candor and affection, Condoleezza Rice evokes in rich detail her remarkable childhood. Her life began in the comparatively placid 1950s in Birmingham, Alabama, where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe to their white neighbors. She grew up during the violent and shocking 1960s, when bloodshed be In this captivating memoir for young people, looking back with candor and affection, Condoleezza Rice evokes in rich detail her remarkable childhood. Her life began in the comparatively placid 1950s in Birmingham, Alabama, where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe to their white neighbors. She grew up during the violent and shocking 1960s, when bloodshed became a part of daily life in the South. Rice’s portrait of her parents, John and Angelena, highlights their ambitions and frustrations and shows how much they sacrificed to give their beloved only child the best chance for success. Rice also discusses the challenges of being a precocious child who was passionate about music, ice skating, history, and current affairs. Her memoir reveals with vivid clarity how her early experiences sowed the seeds of her political beliefs and helped her become a vibrant, successful woman. Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Parents and Me is a fascinating and inspirational story for young people. Includes a 16-page photo insert.


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In this captivating memoir for young people, looking back with candor and affection, Condoleezza Rice evokes in rich detail her remarkable childhood. Her life began in the comparatively placid 1950s in Birmingham, Alabama, where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe to their white neighbors. She grew up during the violent and shocking 1960s, when bloodshed be In this captivating memoir for young people, looking back with candor and affection, Condoleezza Rice evokes in rich detail her remarkable childhood. Her life began in the comparatively placid 1950s in Birmingham, Alabama, where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe to their white neighbors. She grew up during the violent and shocking 1960s, when bloodshed became a part of daily life in the South. Rice’s portrait of her parents, John and Angelena, highlights their ambitions and frustrations and shows how much they sacrificed to give their beloved only child the best chance for success. Rice also discusses the challenges of being a precocious child who was passionate about music, ice skating, history, and current affairs. Her memoir reveals with vivid clarity how her early experiences sowed the seeds of her political beliefs and helped her become a vibrant, successful woman. Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Parents and Me is a fascinating and inspirational story for young people. Includes a 16-page photo insert.

30 review for Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

  1. 4 out of 5

    BookWorm

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a very good book. In the beginning, I was only reading it for a report but liked it too much to stop. My favorite part of the book was the part about her childhood. I loved how even someone as awesome and brave as Condoleezza still had/has flaws. Towards the end, I found myself skipping through the book so I could get to the end faster. I am young after all, and the stuff about her book bored me. But overall the book was good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Despite whatever political views you may hold, this is an extraordinary memoir about the challenges Condoleezza faced as both an African-American in childhood and a woman in adulthood in pursuit of a career, how she questioned what direction her life was directing her at times, but always met each challenge with determination. She also meets some very interesting people along the way. You will also see where her determination comes from when you read how her dad accomplished many firsts for blac Despite whatever political views you may hold, this is an extraordinary memoir about the challenges Condoleezza faced as both an African-American in childhood and a woman in adulthood in pursuit of a career, how she questioned what direction her life was directing her at times, but always met each challenge with determination. She also meets some very interesting people along the way. You will also see where her determination comes from when you read how her dad accomplished many firsts for black males in order to provide Condoleezza with an opportunity for a better life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It was very interesting to read about Condi's childhood in Birmingham during the civil rights unrest of the 1960s and very interesting to consider how being a witness to all that made her more determined than ever to get her education and pursue her dreams. Her parents were very focused on providing a top-notch education for her, and they sacrificed a lot financially for her. My favorite quote of the book: "....my parents did have me convinced that even if I cou I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It was very interesting to read about Condi's childhood in Birmingham during the civil rights unrest of the 1960s and very interesting to consider how being a witness to all that made her more determined than ever to get her education and pursue her dreams. Her parents were very focused on providing a top-notch education for her, and they sacrificed a lot financially for her. My favorite quote of the book: "....my parents did have me convinced that even if I couldn't have a hamburger at Woolworth's lunch counter, I could grow up to be President of the United States." Amazing that her parents were able to instill that in her despite all they witnessed and experienced in the segregated South.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I have always been curious about Dr. Rice. So when I came across her book I purposed in my mind to read it. As I read I learned about Dr. Rice the woman. She was clearly proud of her up bringing and took a lot of time to write about it. As she wrote about the many things she had achieved in life I was proud of her and inspired by her story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tanika

    Amazing read! I could not put it down. If you thought you knew Condoleezza Rice, you have no idea! A truly ground-breaking woman with a brilliant story and experience of Birmingham, Alabama during its darkest history. A true testament to the strength and ambition instilled in her and honored throughout her life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alicea

    Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me covers her childhood in segregated Birmingham, her close-knit family life, education, and rise through professional, educational, and political worlds. I went into this knowing almost nothing about Condoleezza beyond her serving in the White House under President Bush but by the end of this book I felt that I knew her as one knows a friend. I think what I found most surprising is that she still teaches classes (Managing Globa Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me covers her childhood in segregated Birmingham, her close-knit family life, education, and rise through professional, educational, and political worlds. I went into this knowing almost nothing about Condoleezza beyond her serving in the White House under President Bush but by the end of this book I felt that I knew her as one knows a friend. I think what I found most surprising is that she still teaches classes (Managing Global Political Risk if you're curious) at Stanford University. This book runs chronologically as most autobiographies do but two of the biggest focuses are her relationship to her parents (she is an only child) and her professional life as an academic and political scientist. She is an accomplished, intelligent, and ultimately fearlessly ambitious woman. She has never married but seems genuinely happy with her single life (sounds familiar). She makes no bones about her many achievements which include but are not limited to being a proficient pianist and fluent Russian speaker. I also appreciated that she included photographs, a chronology of her career, and a glossary of historic events and people during her lifetime. I'd say that this book would be good for anyone looking to learn more about women in politics and/or what it was like for this particular woman who was raised during segregation in the tumultuous city of Birmingham...and still make it to the upper echelons of government. Good for history buffs and political junkies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Khin Su

    One of the best autobiographies I've ever read. Condoleezza Rice writes about her life up to the point where she became the National Security Advisor to President G W Bush. Courage, fortitude and integrity come to mind when I reflect on the story of Condoleezza Rice. She is a great role model. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! One of the best autobiographies I've ever read. Condoleezza Rice writes about her life up to the point where she became the National Security Advisor to President G W Bush. Courage, fortitude and integrity come to mind when I reflect on the story of Condoleezza Rice. She is a great role model. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brittni

    I’ve just decided I like biographies! I love hearing people’s stories, and everyone has one. This book gave such fascinating insight into an upper-middle class black family during the civil right movement. I found her thoughts on affirmative action equally thought provoking.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    This book is excellent. I so enjoyed reading about Condoleezza Rice's life. She is a strong, smart, and kind woman. She's normal yet so accomplished I can hardly believe it. I especially enjoyed how she challenged me to think differently about Affirmative Action. Oh, and she doesn't rant and rave. She tells the truth, gives her opinion with strong, supportive arguments, and keeps her compassion in the process. Thank you, Condoleezza. This book is excellent. I so enjoyed reading about Condoleezza Rice's life. She is a strong, smart, and kind woman. She's normal yet so accomplished I can hardly believe it. I especially enjoyed how she challenged me to think differently about Affirmative Action. Oh, and she doesn't rant and rave. She tells the truth, gives her opinion with strong, supportive arguments, and keeps her compassion in the process. Thank you, Condoleezza.

  10. 4 out of 5

    H.k.

    Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, ordinary family and Me is beautiful and charming book for the youth. The story is a reflection of Rice's childhood. As an African American living in the south she was always surrounded by pain and inequality. It was a place where black people lived in a parallel universe to their white neighbors. From the youth perspective, I never experienced such pain, racism, neglect and anything else that comes with living in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1 Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, ordinary family and Me is beautiful and charming book for the youth. The story is a reflection of Rice's childhood. As an African American living in the south she was always surrounded by pain and inequality. It was a place where black people lived in a parallel universe to their white neighbors. From the youth perspective, I never experienced such pain, racism, neglect and anything else that comes with living in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1950's but by reading this book I see the world differently, in a different light.It painted a clear vivid picture of how life was and how she overcame the struggles of being the only black girl in a room of power and success. I personally enjoyed this book for several reasons one being the pain, passion,and emotion that I felt as I read the book, I was Condoleezza Rice starting from page 1 all the way to page 336. The book also includes a collection of both old and new pictures of Condoleezza Rice, her family, and her friends, giving you an inside look to help the reader better see what Condoleezza beautifully created when writing her memoir. All in all, Condoleezza's memoir vividly shows the path to her success, a path full of obstacles both emotional and physical which anyone can relate to. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. To all the youth who feel lost and unnoticed, to all the teens hungry to learn about their past in a different perspective, to every parent in search of hope when they feel that they should just give up, and to anybody else in the mood to read a great emotional and lively auto-biography.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I really enjoyed this book. It flowed very well and could be considered a quick read, even though I didn't do it that way. I was initially interested in ready this autobiography when it came into our home last Christmas because I was curious. Secondary to her involvement in politics and her prodigious background, Condoleeza Rice is a black woman of influence. I figured it wouldn't hurt to know more about her so if one day Callie asked about influential black women or men, I'd know at least a few I really enjoyed this book. It flowed very well and could be considered a quick read, even though I didn't do it that way. I was initially interested in ready this autobiography when it came into our home last Christmas because I was curious. Secondary to her involvement in politics and her prodigious background, Condoleeza Rice is a black woman of influence. I figured it wouldn't hurt to know more about her so if one day Callie asked about influential black women or men, I'd know at least a few and more importantly, WHY they were influential. I was so impressed with Condoleeza Rice...rather, I AM impressed. Whether you agree with her politically or not, she is an incredible woman. She is intelligent, talented, compassionate, organized, and truly loves her family. I found reading about her life inspiring. I often thought of ways I could incorporate her mother and father's parenting philosophies. They were great people as well...and as the saying goes "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." It was a good autobiography and I'm glad I read it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It was well-written, touching at times, and well-paced. Ms. Rice and I were born in the same year, and as I was reading this, I thought about how much she accomplished in her life, the people she worked with, and her place in history. I am amazed at her tenacity, ambition, and her intellect. I want every one of my students to read how this woman, who grew up in Jim Crow Birmingham, accomplished so much with her life. Nothing and no one held her back. Ms. Rice em I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It was well-written, touching at times, and well-paced. Ms. Rice and I were born in the same year, and as I was reading this, I thought about how much she accomplished in her life, the people she worked with, and her place in history. I am amazed at her tenacity, ambition, and her intellect. I want every one of my students to read how this woman, who grew up in Jim Crow Birmingham, accomplished so much with her life. Nothing and no one held her back. Ms. Rice emphasizes how important her parents were in her life, and how her faith carried them all through difficult times. This book is from my school library collection, and yet, it really might be too difficult for middle school students. I would hope some teachers might read it, though, and share some excerpts with their students.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner. I didn't know much of anything about the famous author and I wasn't interested in her either, but someone gave me the book. It is about a girl who grew up in the heart of the civil rights movement as a black girl in the center of US history. She was an only child of parents devoted to her intellectual growth and future success. It is a story of a tight-knit group of 3 that can only exist to this level when there is only one child in the family. S I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner. I didn't know much of anything about the famous author and I wasn't interested in her either, but someone gave me the book. It is about a girl who grew up in the heart of the civil rights movement as a black girl in the center of US history. She was an only child of parents devoted to her intellectual growth and future success. It is a story of a tight-knit group of 3 that can only exist to this level when there is only one child in the family. She details her passions and talks about her struggles to decide what kind of career to pursue and touches on her feelings of inadequacies in certain areas. However, she was like a cream that rose to the top literally in pretty much most of the things she did.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle Dorion

    I read my first autobiography (at least that I can remember). Condoleeza Rice spoke at my high school graduation, and back then she was President Bush's National Security Advisor. I didn't know much about her then, and I wish I did. Having read her autobiography, Rice's life was truly interesting to me, from her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1960s all the way to her PhD graduation and the connections she made throughout her life that lead her to some of the highest positions one ho I read my first autobiography (at least that I can remember). Condoleeza Rice spoke at my high school graduation, and back then she was President Bush's National Security Advisor. I didn't know much about her then, and I wish I did. Having read her autobiography, Rice's life was truly interesting to me, from her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1960s all the way to her PhD graduation and the connections she made throughout her life that lead her to some of the highest positions one hold in the U.S. I admire her parents the most, and throughout the book, she emphasizes her admiration and love for her parents who believed in education and hard work and determination as the foundation of success.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amber Andrews Thomas

    I really enjoyed Condoleezza's memoir and would have given 5 stars but she failed to write about her appointment as U.S. Secretary of State. The book was written well after she served in office so I'm unsure why only a mention appeared. Other than that I found her story fascinating. She gives credit to her upbringing and the effort her parents provided to ensure she was given the best education possible. She was raised during a time when all odds were stacked against her, and racism and segregat I really enjoyed Condoleezza's memoir and would have given 5 stars but she failed to write about her appointment as U.S. Secretary of State. The book was written well after she served in office so I'm unsure why only a mention appeared. Other than that I found her story fascinating. She gives credit to her upbringing and the effort her parents provided to ensure she was given the best education possible. She was raised during a time when all odds were stacked against her, and racism and segregation were unfortunately an everyday part of life. I loved her story about her family's tenacity and hope she writes another memoir to pick up where she left off.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This is the young reader's version of Condi's memoir. I found her life story very compelling and finally understand how this intelligent black woman from segregated Birmingham, AL became a republican. The one thing that bothered me was how "dumbed down" it was, using very simple sentence structures and chapters that were less than 10 pages. Teens can certainly be challenged much more. Since this was modified for middle and high school readers, I imagine more complex explanations are given in the This is the young reader's version of Condi's memoir. I found her life story very compelling and finally understand how this intelligent black woman from segregated Birmingham, AL became a republican. The one thing that bothered me was how "dumbed down" it was, using very simple sentence structures and chapters that were less than 10 pages. Teens can certainly be challenged much more. Since this was modified for middle and high school readers, I imagine more complex explanations are given in the "adult" version, but I don't know.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    For the record, this book is actually called: A Memoir of Family Extraordinary, Ordinary People. But since that wasn't in Goodreads, I'm guessing this is the right one and they got the title wrong! Anyway, I LOVE Condoleeza Rice. She's brilliant, hard-working, prayerful and just an all around impressive person. I saw her speak earlier this year at an event and I was blown away. So, I enjoyed reading about her life from her perspective. But, it's not necessarily a "page-turner" and if you don't s For the record, this book is actually called: A Memoir of Family Extraordinary, Ordinary People. But since that wasn't in Goodreads, I'm guessing this is the right one and they got the title wrong! Anyway, I LOVE Condoleeza Rice. She's brilliant, hard-working, prayerful and just an all around impressive person. I saw her speak earlier this year at an event and I was blown away. So, I enjoyed reading about her life from her perspective. But, it's not necessarily a "page-turner" and if you don't share my love of Condie, then this will be a hard book to get through.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pam Davidson

    It is an amazing story about an amazing woman. This is really a how-to book for people to see the sacrifices her parents made to insure that she had a good education and good experiences in music, athletics etc. It is quite a story. For a black girl growing up under segration in Birmingham, AL her parents and teachers always stressed that for her to get ahead in a white world, she had to be twice as good as a white person. And, she was/is!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Baxter

    A love story between two parents and their only child. Tracing her life from a very segregated Birmingham, Alabama in the mid-fifties to the eve of George W. Bush's presidency in 2000, this is a story of magnificent accomplishments and a few heartbreaks. While written for a younger audience, I enjoyed and was touched by the book. (Note to daughter: the book is on your bed at home for your reading.) A love story between two parents and their only child. Tracing her life from a very segregated Birmingham, Alabama in the mid-fifties to the eve of George W. Bush's presidency in 2000, this is a story of magnificent accomplishments and a few heartbreaks. While written for a younger audience, I enjoyed and was touched by the book. (Note to daughter: the book is on your bed at home for your reading.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    An interesting shift from my usual reads. Condoleezza Rice grew up in Birmingham, so I was interested in that aspect. She worked hard to become a very accomplished woman. As an only child, she was totally spoiled. Her parents gave her everything to help her be successful. It doesn't always work that way. An interesting shift from my usual reads. Condoleezza Rice grew up in Birmingham, so I was interested in that aspect. She worked hard to become a very accomplished woman. As an only child, she was totally spoiled. Her parents gave her everything to help her be successful. It doesn't always work that way.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mml

    I was pleasantly surprised with how readable and likable Ms. Rice is thru this work. I feel as though I understand her mindset and stance just a bit more. Written for YA's, this is certainly a worthwhile read for all history buffs. She provides an interesting and rather different perspective of living and growing up in Alabama in the 1950's and 60's. One which needs to be heard. I was pleasantly surprised with how readable and likable Ms. Rice is thru this work. I feel as though I understand her mindset and stance just a bit more. Written for YA's, this is certainly a worthwhile read for all history buffs. She provides an interesting and rather different perspective of living and growing up in Alabama in the 1950's and 60's. One which needs to be heard.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    An absolutely remarkable book by an amazing and well-acomplised woman. While she is highly regarded in the political world, she tells a down-to-earth story about everything from her childhood to being the first black woman National Security Directory and then Secretary of State. Well worth the read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bobbi

    I enjoyed this autobiography. Condi Rice is an extraordinary woman, bright and motivated and capable. Her story of success, after growing up in still-segregated Birmingham, is impressive and enlightening. This book was more about her background than the "No Higher Honor", and, as such, an easier read. I still hope that she runs for President! I enjoyed this autobiography. Condi Rice is an extraordinary woman, bright and motivated and capable. Her story of success, after growing up in still-segregated Birmingham, is impressive and enlightening. This book was more about her background than the "No Higher Honor", and, as such, an easier read. I still hope that she runs for President!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dayna Downing

    This book is written for a younger audience, but I still enjoyed it, particularly her relationship with her family. It gave a reader like me, who wondered how she could grow up in the segregated South and identify with Republican politics, an understanding of how she chose her political ideology. She is a brilliant woman for whom I have a great deal of respect, after reading this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rob Di

    Excellent insight in to the formative years of Condoleezza Rice. The memoir is a quick and easy read about a fascinating person. Whether you agree with her politics and her decisions as National Security Advisor / Secretary of State, you will gain a ton of insight in to what made her in to the woman she became and gain respect for her accomplishments.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peggymsu Valentine Colombo

    Condi lost a little steam toward the end. The book ends as she begins her tenure as Secretary of State for GW Bush. I enjoyed the parts about her family and Stanford the most, although my self-esteem took some shots reading about everything she has done with her life. One busy lady!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jayne Ferrer

    Fascinating look at Birmingham's educated black populace in the 50s and 60s, a group with which most of us were unfamiliar. I enjoyed learning how far back some of Ms. Rice's relationships go and especially enjoyed the story of her achievements. I'm still hoping she'll run for president! Fascinating look at Birmingham's educated black populace in the 50s and 60s, a group with which most of us were unfamiliar. I enjoyed learning how far back some of Ms. Rice's relationships go and especially enjoyed the story of her achievements. I'm still hoping she'll run for president!

  28. 4 out of 5

    George Williams

    Her recollection of the Civil Rights Movement, and her families involvement reads like revisionist history. As a witnes, of that period, there were participants or collaborators. No Black family were on the sidelines.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joolin

    Love biographies and memoirs and this was no exception. So inspirational to see how she overcame so many minority battles. What an example her parents were in their sacrifice, love, and support of all her ambitions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Wagman

    3.5 stars. I enjoyed this audiobook (read by the author to my surprise!) and learning about Condi. She is a very interesting and well rounded lady. I was disappointed that the story stops just before she goes to Washington and will have to try to find her memoir covering that time period.

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