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Madam Secretary: A Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, April 6, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

This memoir by America's first female Secretary of State is a deeply conventional book, full of long accounts of negotiations and reflections on the proper uses of American power. Albright is not out to settle scores (her criticisms of colleagues are mild at worst) and seems, on balance, pleased with the foreign-policy record of the Clinton Administration. This might have made a dull book, were it not for Albright's appealing character—personally ingenuous but professionally sophisticated, earnest but hard-nosed. Her eye for details—clothing, food, travel conditions—helps bring the diplomat's world to life, and her portraits of foreign leaders are lively and evocative. The result is a book that creates a sense of policy made by real people, not by world-bestriding titans.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker


"A different kind of memoir...it's Albright unplugged." -- USA Today

"Madeleine Albright's memoir is unlike that of any other Secretary of State. It captures the tension between insecurity and ambition..." -- New York Times Book Review

"One of the most diverting political bios in recent memory." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Provides a sweeping overview of foreign crises during the entire eight year term of the Clinton presidency..." -- Seattle Times

"The fascinating story of a remarkable person who has served her country well." -- Dallas Morning News

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax (April 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401359620
  • ASIN: B000ETQQ1O
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAME on September 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Madam Secretary" presents the memoirs of Madeleine Albright, the highest ranking woman in the history of U.S. government (despite what conclusions you might have reached about some of the First Ladies, Edith Galt Wilson in particular). During the eight years of the Clinton administration Albright served as U.N. ambassador and then, following the resignation of Warren Christopher, as Secretary of State. Half of "Madam Secretary" is devoted to that period of her life, while the rest tells the story of how a refugee from Czechoslovakia eventually became the first woman Secretary of State in American history and one of the most admired public figures of recent years (she was confirmed 99-0 by the Senate). The result is a book that is both candid and insightful. The memoirs of any Secretary of State are going to be of importance, but "Madam Secretary" is actually a good read.
Madeleine Korbel Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1937. Her father was an official in the Czech government-in-exile who fled to London, where she remembers enduring the blitz. Her father served in several diplomatic posts after World War II and when the Communists took over Czechoslovakia in 1948 he sent his family to the United States, where he ended up running the School of International Studies at the University of Denver (where one of his prize students was Condolezza Rice). On the personal side of the ledger Albright talks about her marriage to "Newsday" scion Joe Albright, which ended in divorce, raising her three daughters, and learning late in her life that her Jewish grandparents had died in Nazi concentration camps.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
So I find myself a bit disagreeable when it comes to extolling Madeleine Albright. So what. ...
I am still fascinated by the chequered career of "Madam Secretary", who came from a Czech refugee family that first fled Hitler and then the communists. After reaching America, her zigzagging life eventually landed her in the upper echelon of American diplomacy and policy-making. This path alone makes this memoir worth every little centimeter of every frayed penny you spend on it.
This is an outspoken work, and it provides a ringside view of a world in unprecedented turbulence. No, I do not think the authors were fawning a political celeb. It contains a colorful portrait of several other big tykes -- the Clintons, Colin Powell, Jesse Helms, Vaclav Havel, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, King Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Slobodan Milosevic, and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Il. All this tirade, whether your polemical filter reconciles with it or not, makes for quite an interesting read.
As regards weaving an intimate and panoramic tapestry of Madeleine's character, well the writing is fluent, tight, and very interesting. I seldom devour politically charged reminiscences with such zeal. It is clearly self-billed as a "memoir, so I did not expect it to be a highly objective analysis of political stances, if there were such a beast to begin with.
In my book, this comes highly recommended. Will definitely not bore you if that is any consolation. Come to think of it, I guess it also makes for a great movie theme.
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