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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Book Review - No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in WashingtonNo Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington by Condoleezza Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After listening to the audio book by Hillary Clinton on her experience as Secretary of State, I decided to follow it with No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor.  The books are in many ways very similar both in the telling and in the stories being told.  Like I was not a Clinton fan prior to reading her book, Hard Choices, I am not a George Bush fan either.  In fact, I have very negative views of his conduct of the wars during his administration, but I feel it is very important to keep an open mind and to listen to what they have to say.  One does not have to agree with someone to appreciate what he has to say.

Rice tells a very powerful story about her 8 years of experience in the Bush Administration as the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State.  She was introduced to George W. by his father whom she had served under during his administration.  Rice consistently defends the George W. and his decisions.  His administration was deeply influenced by the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.  She discusses the fear that permeated the administration in the months and years that followed the attacks. The way the Administration saw the world was colored by that fear.  While Rice admits making mistakes in her positions, she does not voice any negative feelings toward George W.  She is less positive about Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld with whom she experienced major disagreements, although one has to read between the lines to gain a sense of the conflict.

Rice grew up in the segregated Birmingham, Alabama.  She tells the story of how one of her kindergarten friends was killed during the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham.

One of my favorite anecdotes was during a trip to Rome for the funeral of the pope.  She was sitting between George W. and Bill Clinton.  She said Bill talked all the time and George did not talk.  The story, I believe, is very telling about the differences between the two men.

Rice did her own recording of the book so one hears the story in her voice.  I would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in politics, history and the international world.  The book offers more of the story than one finds in the newspapers and on television.  And I would also recommend that one reads it in conjunction with Hillary Clinton's book on her experiences.  Hillary opens her book with the letter she received from Condoleezza.  A part of me wishes that Rice had chosen to run for President and that she and Hillary would have had an opportunity to campaign against each other.

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