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Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick [Kindle Edition]

Peter Collier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is the first and only biography of Jeane Kirkpatrick, who became an iconic figure in the 1980s as Ronald Reagan's UN ambassador and the most forceful presence in the administration, outside of the President himself, in shaping the Reagan Doctrine and fighting the Cold War to a victorious conclusion.

Political Woman traces the complex interlock between Kirkpatrick's personal and professional lives using her as yet unarchived private papers and extensive interviews with her and her family and with dozens of friends and associates. The portrait that emerges, filled with character and anecdote, is of an ambitious woman from the epicenter of middle America determined to break through the multi dimensional glass ceilings of her time and place.

A pioneering feminist who would be hated by the feminist movement because of her association with Reagan and neo conservatism, she began her career in the post war period as an academic focusing on the subject of totalitarianism. She fell in love with a married man, Evron Kirkpatrick, who had been a close aide to "Wild Bill" Donovan in the wartime OSS and who would help form the CIA after the war.

A leading professor at Georgetown, she also became an important Democratic Party activist. Dismayed by what she saw as McGovern's trashing of the Roosevelt coalition and by Carter's capitulation to Soviet advances, she led a group of Democratic liberals who felt homeless in the radicalized and "Blame America First" (a phrase from her famous 1984 Republican convention speech) Party into the Reagan administration. As Reagan's UN representative, Jeanette sharpened the spearpoint of a rearmed America ready to join the final battle of the Cold War, in the process staging dramatic battles with figures like Alexander Haig and George Schultz over policy toward the Soviets, the Cubans, and the Contras.

This book tells this parallel story--the flight of centrist liberals out of the Democratic Party and into neoconservatism and the complex chess match of the end game of the Cold War--through the intimate story of a woman who was at the center of these interconnected dramas and who kept resurfacing until her death in 2006, most notably for posthumously breaking ranks with her fellow neoconservatives on the war in Iraq. It also shows the price she paid for her achievements in a private life filled with sorrow and loss as profound as her epic personal achievements.

Editorial Reviews


“Peter Collier has succeeded in doing what Jeane Kirkpatrick could not do. Drawing upon her unfinished memoir, as well as countless interviews and other sources, he has written a candid yet sympathetic account of the personal life and public career of an extraordinary woman.”

—Gertrude Himmelfarb, author of The Moral Imagination and The People of the Book

“In sterling prose filled with good sense, Peter Collier masterfully chronicles the nontraditional career of Jeane Kirkpatrick—devoted mother and wife, brilliant teacher and scholar, dauntless representative to the UN, hawkish public intellectual during the Cold War. He reminds us that Kirkpatrick’s career was marked by a lot of ‘what ifs,’ but also that her influence on U.S. foreign policy ran far deeper than is usually imagined.”

—Victor Davis Hanson, author of A War Like No Other and The End of Sparta

“Peter Collier has written a vivid and moving account of a remarkable life whose complexity he renders with subtlety and eloquence. He understood Jeane’s ideas and her significance, and brilliantly weaves both into a rich tapestry that is both astute and intimate. Collier shows convincingly how Jeane’s life shaped her ideas and how those ideas shaped our history.”

—Richard Perle, Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration

About the Author

Peter Collier was the founding editor of Encounter Books and currently acts as a consultant. He has worked as an author and editor for the last thirty years. During that time, he has written novels, short stories and screenplays, along with best selling biographies. Referred to in the New York Times as “America’s premier biographer of dynastic tragedy,” Collier is best known for The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty; The Kennedys: An American Dream; The Fords: An American Epic; and Destructive Generation (all with David Horowitz). He is also the author of The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty and The Roosevelts: An American Saga. Recent books include Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, with photographs by Nick Del Calzo, and The Anti-Chomsky Reader, co-edited with David Horowitz.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1257 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594036047
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (May 29, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00856XIFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,633 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Five EXCEPTIONAL Stars. Author and publisher Peter Collier has written an excellent, and first-time ever, biography of Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan's aggressive, decidedly anti-communist, and highly effective United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Based on numerous discussions over the years with Ms Kirkpatrick, access to her still-unpublished autobiography and many Kirkpatrick confidants, this biography is very detailed, wide-ranging, and ultimately an in-depth look at her life and times. Born in 1926 in Oklahoma, Jeane Duane Jordan rose from somewhat humble Oklahoma roots and worked her way through the educational advantages afforded a young single female to graduate from Barnard and Columbia, bolstered by trips to France. Married to a former intelligence officer, Evron "Kirk" Kirkpatrick, and a mother of 3, she wrote the momentous foreign policy essay Dictatorships and double standards: Rationalism and reason in politics that caught the interest of Ronald Reagan who invited her, a Democrat who later became Republican, to join his future administration. As a 'Reaganaut', she was also one of the most visible 'Reagan Democrats' during the campaign against President Carter. After the election and her appointment, the author describes how she revitalized and re-defined the roles and activities of the US ambassador. In this book, we meet persons such as "Fat" Jordan, Franz Neumann, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ralph Bunche, Hubert Humphrey, President Jimmy Carter, Andrew Young, Daniel Moynihan, Charles Krauthammer, and the entire Reagan group of heavy hitters with whom she would forever be identified: Bush, Haig, Meese, Kissinger, Weinberger et al. Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for political science fans July 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This biography about a member of the Reagan administration is heavy on political sciences yet very readable (very good writer). I was particularly interested in her political evolution, starting as a Democrat of the JFK and LBJ type, i.e. fiercely anti-communist, pro-capitalist and pro-freedom, who became disappointed with Jimmy Carter's friendliness with socialists and became a "Democrat-for-Reagan".

This split in the Democratic party is still felt today and will probably be determinant in the next Presidential election in Nov 2012.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable account of an inspiring person August 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Based on the fact that there are only two other reviews so far, I would say that this is an undiscovered gem of a book. The writing is clear, accessible, and always very close to the subject, never straying into arcane topics or uninteresting tangents. If you happen to agree with Kirkpatrick's politics and theories, so much the better; but even if you don't, she stands as a wonderful example of a person not afraid to speak her mind in the face of opposition. She is now on my short list of historical figures I would like to meet.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding September 22, 2012
By Truman
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peter Collier authored an amazing biography of a remarkable woman---- America's Margaret Thatcher who stood along side Ronald Reagan in defeating communism and making the world safer for freedom. Had she decided to run, Jeane Kirkpatrick had the potential to become America's first woman President. I had the honor and pleasure of knowing her and feel that the author well captured the essence of this dynamic and indispensable person whose influence and presence were a blessing to our great nation and indeed the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick September 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This work is a fine and carefully crafted story of the life, accomplishments,and struggles of Dr. Kirkpatrick. In addition to the trajectory that took her from America's heartland to the international stage, the book chronicles the departure of the Scoop Jackson and other centrist Democrats from the party in the wake of the McGovernite take over. Dr. Kirpatrick's political philosophy which clearly distinguished between authoritarian governments and dictatorships is described as playing a central part in her role in the administration of Ronal Reagan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book was fabulous. I bought copies for each if my granddaughters as I felt it would be inspirational for them. Have recommended to many of my friends for their grand daughters as well. I feel Jeane Kirkpatrick is our Margaret Thatcher...a brilliant, courageous woman who pulled no punches in her career, our damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead lady.

Barbara Copeland
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Women December 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great book about an important period of time. This should be required reading on both sides of the political isle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Sandman
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jeane Kirkkpatrick was a formidable woman for our government. This book seeems to be an accurate account of her years working for the USA as well as how intelligent she was. We need someone like her in public office now.

Political Woman: the Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing woman
Jeane Kirkpatrick lead a pretty amazing life and this was an enjoyable book to read bout her. Good price and helped fill a quiet weekend of reading.
Published 17 months ago by Jan326
3.0 out of 5 stars OK. Not Terrific
Thought it was OK. But not terrific. I had Dr. Kirkpatrick at Georgetown and would have liked to see a little more about that time in her life.
Published 17 months ago by Karen Lubieniecki
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed heroine
A strong woman, a bold woman, but in the end a woman whose thought never got below politics. Or above it.
Published 18 months ago by Peter Cresswell
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeane Kirkpatrick
Great book. Think she was a great Lady and politician. Very smart. Well written and interesting.Know more about her now
Published 19 months ago by Kathy Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks, Amazon
Jeane Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite people. Had to read her Political Woman when in school and it was so readable. The biography is good too. Thanks.
Published 20 months ago by Southerner
4.0 out of 5 stars "A diabolical vision of the public good is the greatest horror and the...
A convincing anti-communism report. Will be most interesting to readers interested in those 80's wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Falklands . . . . Read more
Published on May 10, 2013 by J. Rodeck
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Price
Kirkpatrick was far ahead of her contemporaries in political thinking and know-how. I enjoyed the book, but my wife positively loved it. Read more
Published on April 18, 2013 by N. K. Goldsmith
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
We are happy! But do not really like that you make me type a statement as I am busy sometimes! I am happy should be enough :/
Published on April 8, 2013 by Charles Belew
5.0 out of 5 stars A big woman living a big life!
What an incredible woman!! Honestly, the only "personality" that stuck out during the Reagan years!! I've wondered for years why a book hadn't been written about her. Read more
Published on March 16, 2013 by Jude Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars political women
The womens movement has so many intelligent, principled and confident women like Jeane Kirkpatrick and Margaret Thatcher to study and use as role models. Read more
Published on November 5, 2012 by woody erhardt
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