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This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 7, 2009

61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Forbes lists Sirleaf, the 23rd president of Liberia and the first elected female president on the African continent, among the 100 Most Powerful Women in 2008. In and out of government, in and out of exile, but consistent in her commitment to Liberia, Sirleaf in her memoir reveals herself to be among the most resilient, determined and courageous as well. She writes with modesty in a calm and measured tone. While her account includes a happy childhood and an unhappy marriage, the book is politically, not personally, focused as she (and Liberia) go through the disastrous presidencies of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. Sirleaf's training as an economist and her employment (e.g., in banking, as minister of finance in Liberia, and in U.N. development programs) informs the perspective from which she views internal Liberian history (e.g., the tensions between the settler class and the indigenous people) and Liberia's international relations. Although her focus is thoroughly on Liberia, the content is more widely instructive, particularly her account of the role of the Economic Community of West African States. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Africa’s first elected female president, Sirleaf chronicles her rise from an abused young wife and mother to a woman with a career in government finance and international banking to the president of Liberia since 2006. Sirleaf confronted corruption and incompetence through several Liberian governments and suffered imprisonment and exile for her controversial positions before ultimately returning and challenging the long and troubled history of her nation. Liberia was created by the U.S. to repatriate former slaves, creating a tension between Americo-Liberians and indigenous peoples that continues. She recounts her struggles at home and abroad; she watched dictator Samuel Doe and later Charles Taylor destroy Liberia while she continued to criticize U.S. involvement with corrupt regimes. Having no colonial power to overcome, Sirleaf contends that Liberia has often struggled to develop and maintain a sense of true national integration, something she has sought to achieve as she has worked to bring economic and social stability to her civil-war-torn nation. An inspiring inside look at a nation struggling to rebuild itself and the woman now behind those efforts. --Vanessa Bush

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061353477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061353475
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Lecil Wills on April 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a very honest autobiography of an extroardinary woman. Madame Sirleaf doesn't include many specific dates such as her birthdate but nevertheless guides the reader through a honest protrait of her life. She discusses the hardships of her tribal and mixed race origins, as well as the elite Americo-Liberian background she was born into as the daughter of a lawmaker and teacher. She talks honestly about her strained marriage which she entered into at age 17. She even relates how her pocessive husband put a gun to her head inorder to control her. Yet she managed to leave her husband, despite having four boys to raise and pursue her career as an economist and technocrate. A brilliant and confident woman who refused to except her nations and genders limitations, refuse to give up her beliefs despite being jailed and threatened by brutal dictators, would go on to become a folk hero in her native land and revered throughout the world. Sirleaf worked for and ruffled the feathers of every President she worked for in Liberia from Tubman to Tolbert to Doe and Taylor in a span of nearly 40 years, until she herself at age 67 became the first woman to be elected President of an African nation. Her ability to rise through the male dominated Liberian and International Monetary culture, is what makes her story so compelling and an inspiration to women around the globe. And her ability to incorporate Liberia and her own legacy in an acurate historical perspective makes this an very important work for scholars around the world.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Layli Maparyan on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's rise to power in Liberia as the first democratically elected woman president in Africa stands as one of the most definitive events of 21st century politics. Not only does her presidency firmly establish the integral importance of women leaders on the world stage, but her unique positioning as a woman with both African and Western roots -- genealogically, geographically, and intellectually -- signals a new kind of 21st century leadership consciousness of which we can suddenly see reflections everywhere. This new memoir traces her rise to power and the development of her distinctive leadership style, reveals her innovative philosophies of governance, and offers her timely reflections on current world affairs and pressing global concerns.

Those who found the Liberian civil conflict from 1989-2003 confusing and confounding will also find that this book provides illuminating insights about what happened and why. More importantly, President Sirleaf offers guidance through example and commentary about how to move beyond political and social conflict to peace, reconciliation, development, and, ultimately, prosperity. President Sirleaf's gift is the ability to look at the big picture and hone in on how people with fundamental disagreements and historical animosities can be harmonized and coordinated into a thriving open society that cultivates dissent under the banner of democratic process. The words "visionary pragmatism" (see Stanlie M. James and Abena P.A. Busia's academic book, Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women) come to mind.

Despite the challenges that President Sirleaf, and indeed Liberia, still face, we observe in this book a vision, a plan, sound strategy, and dogged determination in action.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. McCrary on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President

President Sirleaf's absolutely riveting memoir clearly explains how and why Liberia imploded in 1980. She gives us an unvarnished look at Liberia's founding in 1822 by freed American slaves, carries us through the superficially peaceful Tubman years, and explains how her country's history and American ties led to the horror of 14 years of total anarchy. She ends her story with hope, pride, and plans for both Liberia and Africa.

Her personal story is a strong, honest and inspirational narrative. From an abused teenage wife to a United Nations assistant secretary general, from living in exile to being elected president, she has lived an amazing life and she tells the story well.

My family lived in a mining town in the Liberian bush from 1964-1972. We knew many of the problems that the country faced, and we had fears for its survival. President Sirleaf's memoir makes me want to return to help rebuild this remarkable country.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carol E. Smith on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having taught in Liberia with the first group of Peace Corps volunteers (1962-64); and having returned for a two week visit in the midst of upheaval, between one coup and the next attempt (1985); and having heard Ellen Sirleaf Johnson speak in Portland, OR in 2008; having recently visited with Bishop Bennie Warner, vice president in Tolbert's administration (1977-1980) who escaped the executions on the beach by happening to be in the U.S. at the time; and now reading Sirleaf Johnson's memoir, I believe her history to be accurate and her viewpoint believable. Would also recommend the memoir, The House at Sugar Beach, by Helene Cooper, a family member of what are called Americo-Liberians or Congos, who also escaped to U.S. in 1980 and is currently a journalist with Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
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