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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2006
If you, like me, are curious about America's foreign policy, you will find this 512 page autobiography of the first female secretary of state, good insightful reading. It is written in an easy to read manner, very detailed and inforative, and you will wonder, as I did, how this woman managed to work so many long hours for the White House, flew all over the world to meet and eat with other diplomats, and still maintain her composure. What exactly motivated her? She clearly did have the background for this job, dearly loved the power and prestige, and like her or not, you will enjoy her memoirs. Yes you will!

Strangely, after completing this long memoir which could have been considerably shortened, I discovered her ideas of freedom and democracy are actually not unlike those of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, her successors in the Bush administration. So I wonder why then, does she sound so partisan and take little digs at them on television interviews?

Madeleine Korbel was born in 1937 in Prague. She lived in England, went to school in Switzerland for a time, and arrived with her family in America in 1948. In 1949 the Korbel family moved to Colorado. While attending Wellesley College, she became an American citizen in 1957. In 1959, after graduating, she married Joseph Albright. They had three daughter, including identical twins. She suffered a very painful divorce from Joseph Albright in 1983.

During the marriage she earned a Ph.D from Columbia University. She worked for Senator Edmund Muskie, worked on the staff of the National Security Council among other things, and somehow managed to be wife, mother, hostess, and hone her diplomatic skills while working long hours.

From 1982-1992 Madeleine served on the faculty at Georgetown University School of Foreign Serive. She served as foreign policy advisor to democrats Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. President Clinton designated her as representative to the UN. In 1996, he appointed Ambassador Albright to serve as secretary of state during his second term.

The second part of the book details those four years from her perspective. Madam Secretary had excellent people skills, had studied various cultures thoroughly, speaks several languages, had good work habits and loved discussing world affairs with her male counterparts and of course, her place in the Clinton cabinet.

As a woman, an independent voter, a reader of American history and politics, and one who enjoys learning about the "White House" from various viewpoints over time, I recommend this memoir because it is unique. Written by a woman who experienced many ups and downs but worked her way thru them and continues to express her viewpoints on foreign policy, offers insights concerning other countries and cultures, describes just what her job entailed - well, you can make your own judgements of her, but please read this book first of all! It's a very good read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2006
The first female American Secretary of State narrates her life story with emphasis on her unexpected rise from refugee from European tyranny to the highest councils of the land.

Albright tells of her early years as the daughter of a Czech diplomat and of her flight from the Nazis and later the communists. Her tales of growing in very middle-class, very white bread Denver in the 1950s were laugh-out-loud hilarious. The picture of the future Secretary of State trying so hard to be liked on Valentine's day was both poignant and ironic. Albright takes us through her years at Wellesley College, to her marriage to newspaper heir-apparent Joe Albright, through the birth of her children and her dreams of becoming a professor like her father. After her unexpected divorce, she found comfort in teaching and involvement in politics, fundraising for Ed Muskie in 1972. Eventually taped as Ambassador to the UN and then Secretary of State by Bill Clinton, she had a privileged position to view (and direct) the policies of the United States and the world.

The book is a wonderful, though not too detailed, history lesson in world politics. Albright lets us in on the inner negotiations around the Camp David accords between Yassar Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu, to the Wye River accords with Balkan leaders, past the Lewinsky affair and to the Clinton Administration's often frustrating attempts to deal with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Slobodan Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia. Throughout, Albright shows her admiration for and loyalty to Bill Clinton, and an admirable determination to make America the champion of peace and diplomacy throughout the world.

Albright discussed the personal traumas that marked her life: the shameful sudden departure of her husband of 23 years for another woman; the death of her beloved father; the stillbirth of a child. She gives ample space to the shocking discovery by the press in the 1990s of the fact that three of her grandparents were Jewish and had died in Nazi camps. The furor over her ignorance of her own history seemed improbable to some, even an indication of self-loathing or selective self-reporting. Albright makes clear the truth: out of a desire to protect her, her parents (as did many others) had shielded her from the ugly truth of her grandparents'' deaths.

Albright always comes across as sincere and hardworking, though sometimes as in over her head. Her great personal integrity shine through, however, and it is this quality that makes up for any deficiencies she may have displayed in dealing with word leaders and intractable world problems.

The abridged version of "Madam Secretary" was enough for me. It does gloss over a number of stories -- especially those of her early life and spends far too long on others -- notably the seemingly interminable Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Her analyses of world leaders are never too deep, perhaps out of diplomatic habit. But anyone who reads the book ought to come away with the conviction that for a few years in the late 1980s, America was run by a serious grown-up -a public servant dedicated to peace and the well-being of our nation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2010
What a fascinating woman and what a journey she has been on throughout her life. Being an Australian, I was not drawn to purchase this book because of any political bias, I was just interested to learn more about her as a person and what lead her to become Secretary of State. The book is extremely well written and I found it hard to put it down. It never got bogged down in the political side but gave insight into political events and decisions that were very interesting. I would love to meet her in person - she is intelligent, resourceful, dogmatic in her determination to do everything in her power to ensure the well-being of America and its interests yet comes across as humble and I suspect she has a wicked sense of humor. I am full of admiration of what she has achieved in her life and I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about the person behind the position.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2010
Wonderfully entertaining, wonderfully interesting, wonderful inspiring... Madeline Albright's story and the stories she tells are framed by her strong intellectual curiosity, drive, love of history and learning, principles, and sense of humor. This is one of those books about which one is tempted to say that every young person should read it. And you know what? It's a temptation to which it's only sensible to succumb: Here it is, then: Every young person should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
I expected a much more interesting memoir than this book turned out to be. Mrs. Albright seemed to do a lot of stroking the many people she worked with in this book. It felt more like an advertisement for different politicians than an insightful, thought-provoking read. I was very sorry as I admire Madeleine Albright, quite a lot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2009
This is an excellent read and something you can take with you on the plane, etc. I loved getting an insiders view.
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on June 10, 2012
This is not only a book about Ms. Albright's years as Secretary of State, but really her (highly interesting!!) life story.
Her style of writing makes this easy and interesting reading. She is clear in her expressions.

Naturally, over 50% of the book is about her years as Secretary of State, and she describes the many political people she met with clarity, not mincing words when necessary.
A few times, it is a bit "women's lib.", but never too much - and after all, she WAS the first female Secretary of State!
Thankfully, she does not spend but a few lines on President Clinton's affair.

For anybody interested in recent history, this is a book to be read!
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on March 16, 2014
It all started with admiring her as a politician, then my admiration changed to loving to read as much as i could find about her FINALLY i started having a crush on he her to fall in love with her to a great sexual desire. I would give up years of my life just to spend a memorable night with her , she isn't only beautiful she is gorgeous and sexy. I DESIRE HER VERY VERY MUCH in spite of her age. I THINK SHE IS THE SEXIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
It is interesting to read the biography of Secretaries of State. One can always see their personal stories in the policies they advocate. This is no different. Her personal story seems to have heavily influence her policies. The book is an excellent story and very hard to put down. A definite page turner.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2009
Excellent! I wish I have read it before The Mighty & The Almighty. I recommend it anyone with interest in International Affairs & Powerful, Intelligent Women
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