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Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership Hardcover – January 8, 2008

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bill Clinton's secretary of state dispenses advice both geostrategic (The first rule for intervening in a civil war is don't) and mundane (Leave time for exercise) in this engaging foreign policy primer for the next White House occupant. Much of her wry wisdom concerns the muddled nuts-and-bolts of policy making, covering such topics as the indecipherability of satellite photos, the near-impossibility of getting the Washington bureaucracy to follow through on presidential initiatives and the importance of sounding out dissenters. The book provides briefings on world regions and hot spots that will likely preoccupy the next administration, with recommendations that are sometimes specific—lift the embargo on Cuba, Albright suggests—but usually noncommittal. (There are no good options in Iraq, the author opines, though she foresees a split into three autonomous regions as the most stable way to proceed.) Between the lines, she articulates a Clintonian approach to the world—moderate and solicitous of allies and world opinion, wary of force but willing to use it. She's anything but diplomatic on the subject of President Bush's foreign policy, especially the invasion of Iraq. Savvy and tart, Albright's is an unusually interesting presentation of centrist thought. (Jan.)
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About the Author

Madeleine Albright served as America's sixty-fourth Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her distinguished career also includes positions on Capitol Hill, the National Security Council, and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She is a resident of Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061351806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061351808
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,264,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Madeleine Albright is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Madam Secretary, The Mighty and the Almighty, Memo to the President, and Read My Pins. She was U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her distinguished career of public service includes positions in the National Security Council, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and on Capitol Hill.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 68 people found the following review helpful By M. Reid on January 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book by a statesman whom I generally respect and like was a PROFOUND disappointment. I had gone into it with the hope that it would contain both an insiders look at the workings of the Clinton Foreign Policy Team as well as insights into how to address any number of thorny issues confronting us around the world. What I found was a basic overview of the cabinet and then several hours of platitudes and generalities about how the world works. She accurately, more or less, described the current situations in various hotspots around the world, less accurately explained how we got there, and then failed to offer any real solutions.

After getting about half way through, I thought that perhaps she was being very nuanced and indirect (she is after all a diplomat) and re read some portions. Alas, she was not being subtle, she just wasn't saying much. Also, it must be noted that her hatred of the Bush administration is not hidden at all. Granted several of her criticisms are spot on target but the bias was annoying. What made it worse was the fact that she never mentioned or analyzed any of Clinton's foreign policy disasters, and there were some that I wanted to hear her take on.

The result is a lot of nothing. There is no real guidance given. There are no great insights that would be beyond anyone who has been reasonably alert for the last ten years. There are no brilliant flashes or insights into history. Finally, there is no unbiased analysis. The result is a waste of time and money.

Particularly disturbing was her complete flight of fantasy at the end of the text where she presents a vision of what the world could look like in four years with an intelligent US foreign policy.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Albright states that her latest book is the product of many minds. Broad themes, opinions about the Bush Administration, and general advice are consistent with her earlier books. In addition, her writers and editors have produced exceptionally clear prose. Muddy concepts are clarified, anecdotes are brief and pithy, and many dots are connected. Some tightly written paragaraphs are quotable gems. Page 150 and the middle of page 237 spring to mind.

Clearly the work of an experienced diplomat, the book is as much about attitude and style as about concrete policy advice. She scorns black and white thinking, rather asking the president-elect to weigh the interests of other parties in any interactions with soverign states.

Finally, it becomes clear by the last chapter, that only one of the 3 potential president-elects has style and views aligned with those expressed by Ms. Albright.

Disclaimer: I am a 70 year old Electrical Engineering Ph.D. nerd, happily married for 45 years with 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 6 patents in 5 different fields. Partially retired, I am increasingly fascinated by human behavior, especially in the political arena.
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Format: Hardcover
My review is on the audio book. Audo is often a remarkably different experience from written books for me. Ms. Albright reads the book and is adept at this medium.

Ms. Albright points out in reading the foreward how the book differs from an actual memo to the president elect which would be confidential. She is clearly providing her perspective in a manner accessible to a broad audience. As a huge number of people have trouble with basic world facts and history. Her presentation provides context for the relatively uninitiated so the information and views she is providing may broadly digested and understood.

For people with more knowledge of politics and the world this may seem a unnecessary review of known facts and situations. This has been the point of some more negative reviews. For me these were a welcome presentation of familar territory through the eyes of Ms. Albright and helped set the mental stage for the common-sense and pithy observations and advise she provides throughout the text.

Ms. Albright takes some hits in other reviews for pointing out how our current policies have hurt our standing internationally. It is my opinion those who cheer on the USA like a football team - we are number 1! - without examining and accepting the global realities will not like this book. For me her presentation was refreshing. Recognizing and giving voice to areas of decline can provide the hope and opprotunity to reverse the trend and lead to improvent.

I hope the next president is wise enough to see and use her counsel. The experience and clarity will be invaluable to navigating the international mess we find ourselves left with.

I am not sure this would be a "page turner" for me in the print edition, but it is certainly a "disk changer" in the audio edition. The audio version is unabridged with 8.5h of audio on 8 CD's! I feel Ms. Albright's reading of the text adds appreciably to the book.
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Format: Paperback
My review is on the audio book. Audo is often a remarkably different experience from written books for me. Ms. Albright reads the book and is adept at this medium.

Ms. Albright points out in reading the foreward how the book differs from an actual memo to the president elect which would be confidential. She is clearly providing her perspective in a manner accessible to a broad audience. As a huge number of people have trouble with basic world facts and history. Her presentation provides context for the relatively uninitiated so the information and views she is providing may broadly digested and understood.

For people with more knowledge of politics and the world this may seem a unnecessary review of known facts and situations. This has been the point of some more negative reviews. For me these were a welcome presentation of familar territory through the eyes of Ms. Albright and helped set the mental stage for the common-sense and pithy observations and advise she provides throughout the text.

Ms. Albright takes some hits in other reviews for pointing out how our current policies have hurt our standing internationally. It is my opinion those who cheer on the USA like a football team - we are number 1! - without examining and accepting the global realities will not like this book. For me her presentation was refreshing. Recognizing and giving voice to areas of decline can provide the hope and opprotunity to reverse the trend and lead to improvent.

I hope the next president is wise enough to see and use her counsel. The experience and clarity will be invaluable to navigating the international mess we find ourselves left with.

I am not sure this would be a "page turner" for me in the print edition, but it is certainly a "disk changer" in the audio edition. The audio version is unabridged with 8.5h of audio on 8 CD's! I feel Ms. Albright's reading of the text adds appreciably to the book.
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