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Rice's graceful memoir is a personal, multigenerational look into her own, and our country's, past. With vivid and heartfelt writing, Rice, U.S. secretary of state under George W. Bush, looks back on her grandparents and parents, then moves forward through her own life up to the 2000 election (this is not a political memoir for the most part). Some of the most moving parts are those relating to her early family life in Birmingham. Rice was a child during the height of the Civil Rights Movement while living in staunchly segregated Alabama. She knew the little girls killed in the 16th Street Church bombing and witnessed much of the violence of that time. Despite the circumstances of their lives, Rice's parents were dedicated to education and providing the best opportunities possible to their daughter, an only child. Her family was also very involved in their local community (they moved from Birmingham to Denver in 1967) and worked tirelessly to convince others to value education as they did. -VERDICT Readers will perceive Rice's emotion in relating her story, yet her portrayal seems fair and unbiased. This book by a truly fascinating woman is highly recommended to all interested readers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/10.]-Lisa A. Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Former secretary of state Rice only briefly treats her tenure during the second Bush administration in favor of a straightforward, reverential chronicle of her upbringing under two teachers in the segregated Deep South. Rice acknowledges upfront the complicated, intertwined history of blacks and whites in America, which lent a lightening of skin to her forebears that was looked upon favorably at the time. Her father, John Wesley Rice Jr., came from a family of well-educated itinerant preachers in Louisiana, while the family of her mother, Angelena Ray, were Birmingham, Ala., landowners; both were teachers at Fairfield Industrial High School and determined to live "full and productive lives" in Birmingham, despite the blight of segregation (e.g., poll tests in the largely Democratic South resolved John Rice to become a lifelong Republican). Cocooned in an educational and musical environment, Rice was a high-achieving only child. Yet the encroaching racial tension broke open in Birmingham in the form of store boycotts, bombings, and demonstrations. Eventually, the family moved to Denver, where Rice attended the university, majoring first in piano then political science, due to the influence of professor and former Czech diplomat Josef Korbel. Rice moves fleetingly through her subsequent education at Notre Dame and Stanford. Swept into Washington Republican politics by Colin Powell and others, she sketches the "wild ride" accompanying the Soviet Union's demise, but overall records a thrilling, inspiring life of achievement. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Having served under two Bush presidencies as national security advisor and secretary of state Rice is well known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a family that pridefully skirted racism never using the colored facilities or riding in the back of the bus. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael. He declined to march with Martin Luther King in nonviolent protests and was more inclined to sit on the front porch with a loaded shotgun to ward off white night riders. The Rice family personally knew the young girls who were killed in the church bombing, one of the more violent episodes the family endured before they eventually left the South. Rice presents a frank, poignant, and loving portrait of a family that maintained its closeness through cancer, death, career ups and downs, and turbulent changes in American society.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist