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Condoleezza Rice: An American Life: A Biography [Kindle Edition]

Elisabeth Bumiller
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $5.16 (30%)
Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Condoleezza Rice, one of most powerful and controversial women in the world, has until now remained a mystery behind an elegant, cool veneer. In this stunning new biography, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller peels back the layers and presents a revelatory portrait of the first black female secretary of state and President George W. Bush’s national security adviser on September 11, 2001. The book relates in more intimate detail than ever before the personal voyage of a young black woman out of the segregated American South and also tells the sweeping story of a tumultuous half-century in the nation’s history.

In Condoleezza Rice: An American Life, we see Rice’s Alabama childhood under Bull Connor’s reign of terror in “Bombingham,’’ the name given to Birmingham when it was the central battleground of the civil rights movement; her education in foreign policy under Josef Korbel, a charismatic Czech intellectual who also happened to be the father of Madeleine Albright, the only other female secretary of state in U.S. history; and Rice’s confrontations with minorities and women while she was provost at Stanford University in the 1990s.

Examining the current administration, Bumiller explores in depth Rice’s extraordinarily close relationship with George W. Bush, her battles with Vice President Dick Cheney, and her indirect but crucial role in the ousting of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Bumiller shows us Rice missing clues to the September 11 attacks, waging war against Saddam Hussein, and counting election returns with Karl Rove in 2004. In addition, we watch Rice’s recent attempts to salvage the ruins of the Iraq policy she helped create and to avoid war with Iran.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Rice and more than 150 others, including colleagues, family members, government officials, and critics, this book offers dramatic new information about the events and personalities of the Bush administration. With great insight, Bumiller explores Rice’s effectiveness as national security adviser and secretary of state, her attempts to revive classic American diplomacy, her longtime political ambitions, and her future on the world stage.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Powerful . . . an intimate portrait of Condoleezza Rice that will set the standard for all future writing about this fascinating and complex woman.”
–Doris Kearns Goodwin

“A compelling portrait of the country’s first black female secretary of state . . . a cautionary tale about the gap between ambitious presidential appointees and their unwillingness to speak truth to power.”
–The New York Times

“In this singular, fascinating, well-reported, and well-written book, one of our finest journalists shows us heretofore unseen facets of the Condoleezza Rice story.”
–Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage

“Measured, insightful and comprehensive . . . [Elisabeth Bumiller] brings a keen eye to Rice.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“A careful, well-documented new.”
–Los Angeles Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Elisabeth Bumiller, a Washington reporter for The New York Times, was a Times White House correspondent from September 10, 2001, to 2006. She is the author of May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India and The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese Woman and Her Family. She wrote much of this book as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and as a transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Steven R. Weisman, and two children.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2495 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (December 11, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W94HK8
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre biography March 21, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good biography should provde interesting personal insights not readily known and engaging examples that show character strengths and flaws. Once an author interjects his or her own political bias, as this "liberal" author clearly does on more than one occasion, then the reader feels as if the biography has turned into political analysis, which is precisely what happens in this book about midway through.

The author does a nice job describing the childhood, adolescence, family, and personal crises of Ms. Rice through and including her appointment as provost as Stanford. But then the author decides to simply discuss in chronological order the various political events that Ms. Rice was involved in as she entered the realm of politics and ultimately became Secretary of State. From that point on the book becomes not biography, but a superficial and biased presentation of various political events into which the author intersperses quotes from Ms. Rice. It sounded more like a series of newspaper articles than a biography.

In short, the first half of the book through the events at Stanford is worth reading. You can simply skim the rest and skip to the Conclusion, which is rather pedestrian.

There are no great insights provided in this book, but in the early chapters there is a wealth of personal and fascinating details that makes this book worth reading at all.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Condoleeza Rice March 14, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm really disappointed by this book. Clearly, Elisabeth Bumiller, the author of this book does not like Ms. Rice. I'm sure that when you write a biography you have a lot of personal accounts to chose from. This author chose to include mostly negative accounts. The reason I picked up this book is because there is obviously something very special about Condoleeza. While the author points out all the other people that saw the same thing I did including two U.S. Presidents, the author completely fails to illustrate through her writing what this special quality is and how it was developed. Instead, Bumiller insinuates that Rice is just a slave mesmerized by her rich white owner. Bumiller does this by saying that a great grandmother of Rice's had this sort of relationship with her slave owner. Bumiller goes on to describe Rice's relationship with Bush one and two in a similar fashion. Bumiller lacks the grace and style that Condoleeza Rice possesses. While Rice so often takes the high road when pushed, Bumiller doesn't. Bumiller doesn't miss a chance to reveal one of Rice's critics. One might think that it's important to include what others think of Rice, but why include the opinions of those writing tabloids and smear campaigns as credible. Really? You need to say that someone thinks Rice didn't have a black enough childhood. Unfortunately, Elisabeth Bumiller felt that she needed to give morons a voice without really giving us any incite into what makes Rice tick. In the end, Condoleeza is still intriguing, but this book isn't. Thanks to this author Condoleeza is still a mystery. Bumiller should give up her book writing career and go back to the New York Times where she belongs.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Siriam
I bought this book as an English reader who felt that Condi has over the years been given a hard deal by the media. I have ended up concluding that however unique and talented she is (and there is plenty in this book to support that view), her actions and achievements reveal her only aim in life is solely about personally succeeding. While a great first as a black member in the US administrations of George Bush and his son (and ironically paving the possibility of Obama as a black presidential candidate), this is achieved at whatever the cost resulting to others may be and however poor she may be at the job.

This is a very well researched and balanced book by an experienced NY Times reporter that provides many interpretations on events, some of which do need revisiting given how looking back has led to many adaptations, especially her stormy time as Stamford University Provost in the 1990s and the ousting of Rumsfeld from the Bush government.

Her childhood clearly set the scene in a way that you are left feeling Condi was almost placed on a pre-planned path. Parents who ensured she was protected from the rampant racialism in 1950/60s Birmingham she was born into as an only child but also pushed in all ways to show she was ten times better than whites and many of her peers, infused her with lifelong ambition.

Her undertaking of further education led her to accept she could not meet her parents aims of being a classical musician and in showing her one key decision against them chose to engage in political science of the cold war and learn Russian, a fateful choice given she studied with Josef Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright and the coming Glasnost period.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LADY OF ELEGANCE December 18, 2010
By U.B.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Well written.

Great reading for all book-lovers.Gave this book to two persons for their reading pleasure,and they enjoyed it to the max.
Published 18 months ago by Ellen J. Agard
5.0 out of 5 stars Condoleezza Rice AN AMERICAN LIFE
I had this shipped to my daughter and she said it was one of the best books she has read. It has inspired her to rise beyond what she expected to accomplish as a young women. Read more
Published 22 months ago by seasidestitcher
3.0 out of 5 stars A fair treatment
Good basic book about Secretary Rice. A great deal of background of her upbringing, early life and time inside the Bush Administration. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Glenn D. Robinson
1.0 out of 5 stars Against Bush or for him?
In the beginning, Condolezza Rice was bringing charges against George W Bush, next thing we know she is assisting him with a high position
in his office. Wonder why?
Published on December 6, 2010 by gingerlead
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelations!!
this book did reveal the other side of Rice that we did not get to know during her term of office in Bush's administration. Read more
Published on November 22, 2010 by Mwinyelle
5.0 out of 5 stars best book !
I can't wait to share with you my opinion.
I strongly recommend your family need to buy this book. Read more
Published on October 7, 2010 by yishuin
5.0 out of 5 stars Condoleezza Rice: an American Life
This is an excellent book for inner-city high school girls! Others as well, but that is the purpose for this purchase
Published on July 24, 2010 by Charlotte Van Fleet
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Bush fan but a Condi fan after reading this book
I was never a Bush, certainly no supporter of the PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY, the most pompous concept and surely the downfall of America. Read more
Published on October 4, 2008 by smj
2.0 out of 5 stars Biography of an intellectual middleweight BY an intellectual...
Where's the analysis?

There's not a lot new here about Condi Rice, especially for people involved enough with tracking politics to have formed a basic picture of her... Read more
Published on April 26, 2008 by S. J. Snyder
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