by Antonia Felix
New York: Pocket Books. Pp. 302 .
Notes, append., sources, index. $6.99 – paper. ISBN:0-7434-8623-4
Condoleeza Rice is the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor, and the second to be nominated to serve as Secretary of State. Her life is a story of overcoming many prejudices. It is perhaps fortunate for the country that she decided she wasn’t good enough to be a concert pianist. She instead was attracted to studying the Soviet Union. In 1989-1991, she was the one who provided President George H. W. Bush with the advice that helped America navigate the turbulent times during the fall of both the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
From learning at a young age that the world is a dangerous place (a friend of hers was killed in the bombing of a Birmingham church), she still maintained an optimistic viewpoint in life. Her love for football (a game much like world politics) also figures somewhat prominently. She is also candid about things. While President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act warranted support for the Democrats, she became a Republican over foreign policy issues (specifically, Jimmy Carter’s poor handling of the invasion of Afghanistan).
It is interesting to note that Rice has done well in dealing with the disagreements between her predecessor as Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. While not as difficult as some disagreements due to the immense respect that the two men have for each other, it is still a delicate task at times.
Antonia Felix’s biography is one that is honest and well-documented. One does not just rely on the author’s take on the individual – one can look at the original sources. Felix has made the decision to point to the original materials used so one can make their own decisions about her view of Ms. Rice. The book paints Ms. Rice in a very favorable light.
Ultimately, this biography is a very good overview of an intelligent, brilliant woman who has reached heights almost unimaginable for a black woman born in Alabama in 1954. Well, not for Condoleeza Rice, who predicted she would be “in that house” when she was a ten-year-old girl.