From Publishers Weekly
Albright proposes to "combine the personal with policy" in these memoirs, a sensible narrative strategy, considering her emblematic struggles as a working mother breaking through the glass ceiling of the foreign policy establishment to become U.N. ambassador and secretary of state. Albright's recollections of her background as a child refugee from Czechoslovakia and its twin scourges of Nazism and Communism (later, she accounts for the belated discovery of her Jewish heritage) suggest a basis for her belief in "assertive multilateralism." Although she laments coining this derided term, it's an apt name for her doctrine that human rights should be protected by the international community, led by American power. In the Clinton administration, this was the hawkish position, opposed by Colin Powell, William Cohen and others more cautious about military commitments. Albright treats these and other rivalries with restraint, but she is relatively candid about policy and personality conflicts, to an extent unusual in a diplomat and welcome in an autobiographer. Pitched at a popular audience, Albright's anecdotal style is engagingly direct, but it's not suited to mounting a comprehensive defense of humanitarian interventionism in light of failures in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Albright is willing to admit mistakes, though she generally pursues the political memoirist's standard agenda of spinning the historical record. Filled with shrewd character sketches of world leaders, Albright's descriptions of the Balkan conflicts, the Middle East peace process and other critical negotiations are thorough and insightful. This memoir captures the disarmingly blunt purposefulness that made its author an irrepressible force in foreign affairs.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This memoir by America's first female Secretary of State is a deeply conventional book, full of long accounts of negotiations and reflections on the proper uses of American power. Albright is not out to settle scores (her criticisms of colleagues are mild at worst) and seems, on balance, pleased with the foreign-policy record of the Clinton Administration. This might have made a dull book, were it not for Albright's appealing character—personally ingenuous but professionally sophisticated, earnest but hard-nosed. Her eye for details—clothing, food, travel conditions—helps bring the diplomat's world to life, and her portraits of foreign leaders are lively and evocative. The result is a book that creates a sense of policy made by real people, not by world-bestriding titans.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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