A national bestseller on its original publication in 2003, Madam Secretary is a riveting account of the life of America's first woman Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. For eight years, during Bill Clinton's two presidential terms, Albright was a high-level participant in some of the most dramatic events of our time--from the pursuit of peace in the Middle East to NATO's intervention in the Balkans to America's troubled relations with Iran and Iraq. In this thoughtful memoir, one of the most admired women in U.S. history reflects on her remarkable personal story, including her upbringing in war-torn Europe and the balancing of career and family responsibilities, and on America's leading role in a changing world. With a new epilogue by the author, Madam Secretary offers an inimitable blend of Albright's warm humor, probing insights, and distinctive ideas.
Her accounts of personal, national, international, and political events seem to be truthfully told and with good intention.
The book is well-documented. Indexed.
It is an entertaining and enlightening book and for those who feel that the Rwandan genocide is a stain on the UN and, because of its power, the US, Madeleine does not duck the issue. She details the complications, the UN bickering, the dreadful US experience in Somalia as reasons for that failure to act but does not shirk from admitting that she deeply regrets not advocating that the US take effective action which might have saved thousands of lives. 'Many people would have thought I was crazy and we would never have won support from Congress, but I would have been right, and possibly my voice would have been heard' (p.155). Of course it's easy to express sorrow after the event ('History is written backwards but lived forwards', p.154) but throughout her book she comes across as someone who is sincere and her sincerity is apparent here also. It really was a dreadful chapter in our history as humans on this planet and she is fully aware of this and is deeply saddened by it.
Then the question of her Jewish ancestry. Very vexed. How could she not have known about it, given her refugee background, her father's flight from Europe, & etc.? She writes that she began to receive letters around the time just before her accession to the post of Secretary of State 'which made me think my parents might have been of Jewish ancestry'. (p.222). The media went to town on the story after her nomination. She writes: 'I was made to feel like a liar and my father, whom I adored, was portrayed as a heartless fraud' (p.235). All I can say is that if she genuinely did not know, then it really was a dreadful time for her and she was treated most unfairly. If she did know, it was also a dreadful time and it was her own business. Certainly it had nothing to do with whether or not she was a good Secretary of State, good for the US and good for the world. Which I think she was.
This book is worth reading. It covers a lot of ground, is full of very human insights into the personal life of someone who was at the crossroads of international affairs at a time when some very dark things were happening, and it is written in an easy accessible style, this last quality no doubt due in part her having the collaboration of Bill Woodword.
A great model for any woman who ponders how to juggle life, family and a career.