Madeline Albright, Madame Secretary
I chose to read this book as I have always been an admirer of Madeleine Albright. The
book certainly confirms my views on her as a person.
The book can roughly be devided into two parts. her life until she became secretary of
state and her life as secretary of state.
The first part of book is very good in explaining on how she as a child of refugees
became secretary of state. Her journey is remarkable and full of sadness and joy. Her
description of her homeland and how her own history has shaped her is very well
written and reads well. Her tough, but warm personality comes though as she speaks
of people, places and history dear to her. It also shows why her background was such
an advantage as secretary of state. She had been there, she had seen what war does
to countries and families first hand. The fact that she speaks many languages also
was an advantage as with language you learn the culture of a foreign country. Yet in
spite (or should it be as a result) of that knowledge she develops a very American
The second part of the book describes her time as secretary of state and I feel it is
more of a political summing up than a memoir. There are some really good parts (I
enjoyed the chapter on North Korea inmensely) but I cannot escape the feeling that
this part of the book was greatly curtailed by the fact that she could not talk openly as
state secrets may have been involved. It reads as if it is strained, almost as if the
person is different from the first part of the book. There is a genuine note that she
feels that the new govenrnment undid a lot of her work and I have to agree with her.
Yet on occasion her sense of humour comes through, but also her exasperation with
some of the other political leaders. You can sense her pragmatism and good
intentions. All in all this second part of the book I felt was hard going and soemwhat
on the borign side, due to the restraint that needed to be shown. It is a pity as it
made me feel unsatisfied reading it
The saterical cartoons in the book are so funny. Granted they are the best from her
tenure as Secretary of state but still they hit home.
Madeleine Albright wrote the memoir she could at that stage in history. I have a
feeling that in 10 years time the second part of the book would read differently due to
changes in world politics. I am looking forward to history opening up and showing
more of this remarkable woman.
I still give it 4 stars on the basis of the first part of the book and knowing that she
must have had some major constraints in the second part. My opinion of her having
been the best secretary of state the USA has had over the last 50 years has been
confirmed by this memoir.