Condoleezza Rice is extraordinary. Regardless of politics, she has survived some of America’s worst and emerged on the other side a woman who has studied, changed, and made history.
I was first turned onto this memoir with her appearance on The Daily Show. She is one of the few members of the Bush cabinet to make an appearance, and I was struck by the pleasant dialogue with Jon Stewart. The interview avoided politics and focused on her experiences and what she learned about herself and her family while writing this book.
Rice explains the evolution of her personal and political beliefs through a simple and straightforward narrative; each story provides greater insight into her very public choices. Her father was a lifelong Republican because the Democratic party refused to register him to vote. The segregated education system allowed teachers to demand more from every student without “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” a phrase from Bush that she clearly abhors. Regarding the 2nd Amendment, Rice recounts how, as a child during the riots in Birmingham, her father and the other men in her neighborhood stood watch against threats from Whites angry with government-sanctioned integration.
Had my father and his neighbors registered their weapons, Bull Connor surely would have confiscated them or worse. The Constitution speaks of the right to a well-regulated militia. The inspiration for this was the Founding Fathers’ fear of the government. They insisted that citizens had the right to protect themselves when the authorities would not and, if necessary, resist the authorities themselves. What better example of responsible gun ownership is there than what the men of my neighborhood did in response to the KKK and Bull Connor?
The book provides amazing insights into this amazing woman. I won’t say that it changed my opinion of her because I did not have an opinion to begin with. I simply attributed my feelings about Bush to Rice, which, although not unreasonable, is not fair. As I learned more about her, I realized that I agreed with much of her logic including, but not limited to, Roe v. Wade, identity politics, and affirmative action.
As an only child, figure skater, musician, academic, and woman with a funny name, I am astonished and inspired by the accomplishments of Condoleezza Rice. In 326 pages, she has easily become one of my favorite people.