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The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir Hardcover – Illustrated, September 10, 2019
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-- Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times Book Review
“[Power] is a very good writer, which makes it more fun and truly engrossing to read a memoir about a former U.S. official….A pleasure to read.” -- Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
“Power writes movingly about everything…and she delivers one of the best-written political memoirs of recent years.” -- Fareed Zakaria, CNN
“Amid the flood of memoirs from Obama administration veterans, Power’s stands out as worth reading. For starters, she’s a better writer than a lot of them—she was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author long before she got into government. She’s also done more that’s worth reading about. Like the best journalists, Power has a gift for finding the perfect anecdote to illustrate a larger idea or theme, and this is the rare political memoir where you definitely shouldn’t skim the “early years” chapters. -- Slate
“Power writes with heart about her upbringing — in Ireland, Pittsburgh and Atlanta — and she is especially poignant when recounting a few traumatic episodes… Still, the book is suffused with humor, and [President Obama] furnishes the funniest anecdotes that don’t come from her charming children…The Education of an Idealist is a moving account of how to serve righteously, or at least how to try.” -- The Washington Post
“Engaging….Power’s memoir is an insider’s account of foreign-policy-making, and an intensely personal one.” -- The Economist
“Lively…and strikingly personal…[Power] writes vividly and lucidly here about her turn in the international spotlight.” -- Vogue
Aided by the strangely sweet love story at its core…a joyous counterpoint to the stresses of political life. . . . A fascinating read. -- Vanity Fair
Refreshingly frank and self-deprecating, Power's memoir is an energizing reminder that conscience has a place in the process of shaping foreign policy. -- Time
“A foreign policy guru reveals her many selves in a sweeping autobiography” -- O Magazine
"Power is a master story-teller . . . a brilliant self-portrait of an outsider turned insider, who is forced to grapple with the challenges that brings, and does so honestly." -- The Independent (Ireland)
“In this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood.” -- Booklist, starred review
“[Power] stresses the necessity of caring, acting, and not giving up when seeking to change people’s lives. Power’s vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature make for a page-turning memoir.” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An illuminating and engaging account of [Power’s] journey from would-be sports journalist to award winning author, from Irish immigrant to presidential cabinet member… This engrossing memoir will appeal to informed readers and will inspire women contemplating careers in public service.” -- Library Journal
“Problem solving in a complex world can challenge idealism. Samantha Power’s compelling memoir provides critically important insights we should all understand as we face some of the most vexing issues of our time.” -- BRYAN STEVENSON, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy
“Samantha Power’s captivating memoir is a rare and intimate revelation of the inner workings of international diplomacy as well as a heartening beacon of a book for young women and men everywhere. Its stories of dignity, kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are needed today as never before.” -- DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author
The Education of an Idealist is that rare political memoir: startlingly honest, funny and beautifully written. -- NPR
“A celebrated writer and an accomplished diplomat, Samantha Power is one of the most outspoken and important voices in world affairs today. Her absorbing, heartfelt, and remarkably candid memoir provides vivid new details about the difficult strategic questions that arose during her years in the Obama administration, and offers essential lessons to anyone aspiring to follow in her footsteps in shaping the world for the better.” -- Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
A beautiful memoir about the times we’re living in and the questions we must ask ourselves…I honestly couldn’t put it down. -- Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
“Honest, personal, revealing. . . about the development of a young woman’s inner strength and self-knowledge.” -- COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster
About the Author
Samantha Power is a Professor of Practice at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School. From 2013-2017, Power served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s cabinet. From 2009-2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. Power began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and she was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School. Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. She is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World (2008) and The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (2019), which was named one of the best books of 2019 by the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, NPR, and TIME. Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
- Publisher : Dey Street Books; Illustrated edition (September 10, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 592 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062820699
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062820693
- Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.43 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #108,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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However, and this is a big however, she reveals what to me seems a huge blind spot, on the order of those exhibited by one of her mentors, Richard Holbrooke.
The blind spot is this. Ms. Power consistently praises the US for its diversity, while she consistently criticizes various other countries for genocide. What is wrong with this? It is certainly not wrong to criticize genocide! What is wrong is to ignore the important link between diversity and genocide. Genocide is an extreme response by governments to minorities in their populations from which the majority differs in some important way. Without those differences -- which can be ideological, religious, political, or racial -- there is no basis for persecution or discrimination of any sort of the minority(ies) by the majority, let alone for the extreme response of genocide. In short, diversity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for discrimination of all sorts, up to and including genocide. This is one lesson of history, and the examples are simply too many to ignore.
In short, Ms. Power appears to advocate diversity within nations as a purely good thing, while history teaches us that such diversity is a best a mixed bag. And so, Ms. Power appears to be asserting that governments can, going forward, constrain their citizens to react differently than citizens of the past have repeatedly done in the face of racial and other differences between them, which is to cluster in tribes and to distrust strangers. In short, she expects that governments are capable of altering basic human nature. That is one VERY optimistic assumption. It is especially problematic when one considers that ALL forms of government, not limited to democracy, provide strong incentives for those in power to cater to the power blocs in their populations in order to maintain control. And one way to do that, a way that is especially prominent in today's political world, is to demonize the opposition, in this case, those who differ in race, gender, politics, and/or religion from the majority.
It seems to me, when discussing policy in diverse populations, one should at least consider the possibility that diversity could be a governance problem, as it turned out to be for the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. And in Bosnia. And in Yemen. This, I imagine, is the basis for support of a two nation solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This issue is, of course a very large and contentious one. All the more reason why Ms. Power should have addressed it in her book. Otherwise it is, and unfortunately remains, the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
It should be no surprise that she writes well because she started out as a journalist. Her desire is to affect the world for the better. She became an expert on genocide. This makes the book depressing in spots, but she might be helping bend the curve away from genocide in the long run. It depends upon which way we go in 2020, I guess.
Besides her journalistic career and her expert knowledge on genocide, and her diplomatic career, she has managed to have two children. It is all there - her childhood in Ireland, her travels, her loves, her failings, her government work, her child rearing. Her book reminds me of how there are so many people in the world who are smarter and more energetic than I.
It was hard to put the book down because it was so interesting, but even so, it took be the better part of three days to read.
- Pulitzer Prize winner
This woman has something to say:
- human rights advocate
- former US Ambassador to the UN
And she says it very well.
The image that springs to mind during much of the tome is that of the donkey in Shrek jumping up and down behind the crowd yelling 'pick me, pick me!'. Power writes like some kid with an unsatiated need for attention and approval, and quite honestly, parts of the book are excruciating to read. She injects herself into every situation wanting to take some measure of credit. One has the feeling that if she'd been in Nazareth, year 0, she would have been telling people that she delivered Jesus Christ.
Reading through the lines it's pretty clear that Obama and his administration didn't quite know what to do with her. Clearly they couldn't sack her...although it must have been tempting.
The thing I keep coming back to is, why did anyone let her write this? It felt like an act of self sabotage. Everytime she mentions Obama he's saying something terribly kind, but the undercurrent feels like placate the simpleton.
Top reviews from other countries
It's quite biased, reading this you wouldn't be aware of all the problems the US government's interventions caused in middle East and Arabic world's.
On top of that it's not particularly well written, (it's not badly written either) just ok.
Seems a bit pointless all in
Samantha Power makes it an easy read with her style of writing and forensic analysis of situations she so often found herself in.