An American Life: A Biography
Random House, Hardcover, 9781400065905, 432pp.
Publication Date: December 11, 2007
Condoleezza Rice, one of most powerful and controversial women in the world, has until now remained a mystery behind an elegant, cool veneer. In this stunning new biography, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller peels back the layers and presents a revelatory portrait of the first black female secretary of state and President George W. Bush’s national security adviser on September 11, 2001. The book relates in more intimate detail than ever before the personal voyage of a young black woman out of the segregated American South and also tells the sweeping story of a tumultuous half-century in the nation’s history.
In Condoleezza Rice: An American Life, we see Rice’s Alabama childhood under Bull Connor’s reign of terror in “Bombingham,’’ the name given to Birmingham when it was the central battleground of the civil rights movement; her education in foreign policy under Josef Korbel, a charismatic Czech intellectual who also happened to be the father of Madeleine Albright, the only other female secretary of state in U.S. history; and Rice’s confrontations with minorities and women while she was provost at Stanford University in the 1990s.
Examining the current administration, Bumiller explores in depth Rice’s extraordinarily close relationship with George W. Bush, her battles with Vice President Dick Cheney, and her indirect but crucial role in the ousting of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Bumiller shows us Rice missing clues to the September 11 attacks, waging war against Saddam Hussein, and counting election returns with Karl Rove in 2004. In addition, we watch Rice’s recent attempts to salvage the ruins of the Iraq policy she helped create and to avoid war with Iran.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Rice and more than 150 others, including colleagues, family members, government officials, and critics, this book offers dramatic new information about the events and personalities of the Bush administration. With great insight, Bumiller explores Rice’s effectiveness as national security adviser and secretary of state, her attempts to revive classic American diplomacy, her longtime political ambitions, and her future on the world stage.
Elisabeth Bumiller, a Washington reporter for The New York Times, was a Times White House correspondent from September 10, 2001, to 2006. She is the author of May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India and The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese Woman and Her Family. She wrote much of this book as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and as a transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Steven R. Weisman, and two children.
“Powerful . . . an intimate portrait of Condoleezza Rice that will set the standard for all future writing about this fascinating and complex woman.”
–Doris Kearns Goodwin
“A compelling portrait of the country’s first black female secretary of state . . . a cautionary tale about the gap between ambitious presidential appointees and their unwillingness to speak truth to power.”
–The New York Times
“In this singular, fascinating, well-reported, and well-written book, one of our finest journalists shows us heretofore unseen facets of the Condoleezza Rice story.”
–Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage
“Measured, insightful and comprehensive . . . [Elisabeth Bumiller] brings a keen eye to Rice.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“A careful, well-documented new.”
–Los Angeles Times