Extraordinary, Ordinary People

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family
by Condoleezza Rice
An engaging look into modern American History and the life of a unique family and woman.
Appropriate for adults or interested teens
Borrowed from the Library

I have always found Condoleezza Rice to be an intriguing woman, yet despite having read this book she is still somewhat of a mystery to me. She introduces us to her family, yet her intimate thoughts, dreams, and wishes are outside of the purview of this book. What is left is still fascinating, at least to someone like me who loves to enter the homes of others and watch their interactions through the safety of a book.

I was first struck by something I had never considered. I know no single children. None. Though I would love to be wrong, as it seems like such a ridiculous statement. Hopefully someone will comment and save me from this vacuum of experience.

Condoleezza's life is very much affected by being the only child, and even more so by the fact that her parents put her education and eventual success as a paramount goal. Their high expectations are softened by a very apparent love and enjoyment of her. I appreciated her willingness to share some of her own failings so we could watch her grow in maturity and appreciation for her parents as she aged.

We also get to see life in Birmingham before and after desegregation through Condoleezza's eyes. Her thoughts on race in America, including her perspectives on Affirmative Action were intriguing. I learned a lot about the politics and organization of college campuses, her father was a college administrator and she was provost at Stanford where she currently teaches. She talks a bit about her work with both Presidents Bush, and her perspectives on Russia, her academic specialty. I would have liked to hear more about this, but the book was centered on her life with her parents, so she did not spend much time on these topics.

Overall I am glad I read it and may someday tackle her new book: No HIgher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.

Favorite Quotes:

"By now {age eight} I was president of the family. We held an election every year. My father insisted on a secret ballot, but since my mother always voted for me, I was assured of victory. There were no term limits. My responsibilities included calling family meetings to decide matters such as departure times for trips, plans for decorating the house at Christmas, and other issues related to daily life."

"I have always thought that it's harder to be the parent of an only child than to be an only child."

"Because of this experience [KKK attacks in Birmingham in 1963] , I am a fierce defender of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. Had my father and his neighbors registered their weapons, Bull Connor [racist Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham] surely would have confiscated them or worse...the Founding Fathers..insisted that citizens had the right to protect themselves when the authorities would not and, if necessary, resist the authorities themselves. "

"He [Condoleezza's father] wasn't defensive about his refusal to march with Dr. King; in fact, he told me definitively that he didn't believe in being nonviolent in the face of violence."

"[My parents] were determined to give me a chance to live a unique and happy life. In that they succeeded, and that is why every night I begin my prayers saying, "Lord, I can never thank you enough for the parents you gave me." "

1 comment:

  1. Isn't my wife amazing. She reads the books and I read the summaries. Together we are very well read. Love the quote from Condoleezza re: her fathers refusal to march with Mr. King. Excellent blog babe! TQ