Having served under two Bush presidencies—as national security advisor and secretary of state—Rice is well known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a family that pridefully skirted racism—never using the “colored” facilities or riding in the back of the bus. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael. He declined to march with Martin Luther King in nonviolent protests and was more inclined to sit on the front porch with a loaded shotgun to ward off white night riders. The Rice family personally knew the young girls who were killed in the church bombing, one of the more violent episodes the family endured before they eventually left the South. Rice presents a frank, poignant, and loving portrait of a family that maintained its closeness through cancer, death, career ups and downs, and turbulent changes in American society. --Vanessa Bush
"[Features] prose so spare it lays bare a child’s pain…full of raw vignettes, episodes that should jolt our post-racial sensibilities…[The book shows that] the key to Rice’s composure in office – which was a mix of womanly grace and analytical rigor – lies in the manner in which she was raised. In this, America owes a debt to John and Angelena Rice, parents extraordinarily pushy, parents extraordinarily brave."
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—Wall Street Journal
“Surprisingly engrossing…One senses a romantic softness at the core of the steely woman Americans met during her years of public service. Rice’s reverence of her parents is touching, as is her abiding love for the Titusville of her youth.”
“Pays tribute to the people who truly shaped her [and] sets the record straight on aspects of her life that often flirt with myth.”
“An origins story…teeming with fascinating detail.”
—New York Times
“A thrilling, inspiring life of achievement.”
“A frank, poignant and loving portrait of a family that maintained its closeness through cancer, death, career ups and downs, and turbulent change in American society.”
“Vivid and heartfelt writing…Rice’s graceful memoir is a personal, multigenerational look into her own, and our country’s, past…Highly recommended.”
"In this remarkably clear-eyed and candid autobiography, Rice focuses instead on her fascinating coming-of-age during the stormy civil rights years in Birmingham, Alabama."