Condoleezza Rice – Extraordinary, Ordinary People


Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist. Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman – and the first black woman ever — to serve as Secretary of State.

But until she was 25, she never learned to swim – not because she wouldn’t have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he’d rather shut down the city’s pools than give black citizens access.

Throughout the 1950’s, Birmingham’s black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last. Condoleezza’s father, John, a minister and educator, instilled in her a love of sports and politics. Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezzas passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts. From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community.

As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mothers cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl – and a young woman – trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world, and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference.

Author: Condoleezza Rice
Narrator: Condoleezza Rice
Duration: 8 hours 49 minutes
Released: 10 Dec 2010
Publisher: Random House Audio
Language: English

User Review:

woodsman unreliable

I love Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice, because it speaks to me. My parents grew up in the South, but my family has none of the experiences that most people think of when they think of the southern living in the 50s. There are three reasons for this:

1. My grandparents were educated .My grandmother was a midwife who worked in the local community. I dont know what my grandfather did for a living but I know he worked outside of the home.

2. My grandparents owned their land. They farmed and often employed people in the community to help in the fields.
3. My grandparents raised their children away from racism and segregation. They had a big family so they are at home and a avoided issues like white only restrooms when raising their kids. My mother and her siblings went to the private family school so there was no segregation on that front either. My grandparents had their own car so there was never an occasion to sit at the back of the bus.

This means that my mom grew up in middle to upper middle class home. That is a stark contrast from what most people think of when they think of the deep south in the 1950s. The standard portrayal usually involves uneducated black people in the service community. People tend to ignore the stories of people who do not fit that image. The Help is an example of this type of love to adore the servant black character fiction and it is disgusting when a book like that gets such rave reviews for reinforcing negative stereotypes by having boring characters filling roles that we have seen over and over again. I often wonder if the people who give books like this great review are nursing some desire to return to a world like that.
Reading Condis book felt like coming home. It was the first time that I read a book about a black family in the south that resonated with me. Her stories are similar to my stories. I enjoyed reading about her journey because it was more similar to my journey