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on 8 December 2011
Dr Rice is undoubtedly a highly intelligent and gifted person who has had a demanding career in American political life. Her book is a fascinating insight into the demands and pressures on people who hold high office and have to make decisions that have far-reaching implications in a constantly changing world.

That said, however, the book is very much in the tradition of self-serving memoirs by people who have left high office: it is a vehicle for polishing one's own record and for settling old scores.

The book is much too detailed (766 pages) and reads like a committee's report of an official inquiry rather than a personal memoir. This should not come as a surprise, however, when you note in the acknowledgements section that she thanks her 'senior research assistant...who contributed to story lines...' ... and her 'invaluable research team' of four people, with 'important contributions' from seven others. She then thanks 'my team in California' including her 'new, indefatigable chief of staff', and several others including her 'longtime assistant' and 'others in my office' (five of them named). Quite a 'memoir'!

Although I read the massive tome from cover to cover I was surprised by some of Dr Rice's omissions. For example, she omitted to mention in her detailed account of the events of 9/11 that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers who flew the aircraft were Saudi nationals. No mention, either, of the dozens of Saudi nationals who scuttled back to Saudi Arabia from the US a few days after 9/11. Also, in her account of the events surrounding Joseph Wilson and his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, she does not mention that Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the leak of Plame's CIA cover.

To her credit, Dr Rice is honest enough to say several times that she was mistaken or that a particular policy was mistaken, or that she wished she had done something differently.

She gives several examples of her difficult relationship with Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. I am certainly not a fan of either of these individuals but it must also have been difficult for them dealing with her when they knew that she had almost continual access to George Bush and on a one-to-one basis. In fact, this close relationship with Bush, whom she clearly hero(ine) worships, might be said to cloud her objectivity at times. I was surprised at just how close this relationship was.

Still, if you want to read an account of the considerable stresses and strains of high office, shuttling around the world, and the frustrations of meeting and dealing with some very questionable people, then Dr Rice's book is well worth reading. But, set aside plenty of time to do so.
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on 6 December 2012
One of the most intriguing women in world politics Condi rice reveals very little of herself or her colleagues in what is an interesting but not fascinating tour de resume of her NSA and State career.
The admiration remains but shes clearly very loyal to Bush43 as she calls him and Coloin Powell. Not so pally with Rumsfeld and Cheney or one to lift the curtain much on how she really felt about some issues .
Too scholarly perhaps but then she is an academic and writes like one
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on 15 July 2013
My title probably reads as a criticism; in some ways yes - the book is a very long read and in places very detailed and the odd place l felt a little too detailed for my purposes. But this is a book that describes Dr Rice time in Government. It is a very good read, whilst many will view any writing by Dr Rice as an attempt to justify issues that the administration dealt with - actually l think Dr Rice achieves a good balance. She does not apologise for actions, but she recognizes were mistakes were made. Many reading this book will focus on Afghanistan and Iraq so it was pleasing that Dr Rice described the many other policies and situations that she found herself in. There was quite a few moments reading this book l raised a smile and a chuckle. A good read but yes be prepared for the long-haul.
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on 18 July 2014
I saw her interviewed a couple of times and thought she was an interesting lady.
Reading her book even though I may not agree with her politics, she is a good example
to woman that you can succeed in politics.
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on 5 July 2014
I found this a very interesting insight to the Bush years from a unique perspective. Ms Rice work as NSA and Sec of State so has first hand knowledge of the most inner workings and thoughts of the period. Very insightful and enjoyable to read.
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on 8 January 2012
Condoleeza Rice eloquently tells her side of the story surrounding various policy-making decisions in the book "No Higher Honor". I am a former active duty navy veteran who plans on rejoining the military via a part-time component between the time period of December 2012-February 2013 (shaped by my intent to permanently live in the D.C. area). This influences me to feel a responsibility of learning what I can about politics the longer I reside here. Reading about some of the difficult decisions she faced going into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts gave me further insight on what indirectly happens in all of the military branches (in terms of the aftermath regarding the military surges, manpower goals etc.).
The following are some of the vivid points made in her memoir:
Pages 1-12: Dr. Rice describes her first meeting with George W.Bush, and shares why she admires Dean Acheson. A heartwarming moment is illuminated during the discussion of encouragement from her father (John Wesley Rice Jr.). With joyful sentiment, she shares how John Wesley Rice Jr. inspired her achievements. Tragically, he passed away during the Christmas Eve of 2000 (before the beginning of her tenure as George W. Bush's national security advisor).
Page 61: Condoleeza Rice's first meeting with Vladimir Putin is mentioned. On page 85 she candidly tells her discovery that Osama Bin Laden had fought for the Soviet Anti-Resistance. Page 116-117 discloses the essential capture of Abu Zubaydah. It is listed that Abu Zubaydah was the mastermind behind the al Qaeda guide on holding the line against interrogation techniques. Page 118 features information on the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed was said to have bragged about being Daniel Pearl's executioner. For those who might not have heard of the original story, Condoleeza Rice mentions that Daniel Pearl was a Stanford graduate and journalist who was kidnapped in Pakistan and killed in 2002. Dr. Rice also notes the emotional challenge of being chosen as the one who had to break the news to Mariane Pearl (Daniel Pearl's widow).
Page 181: Dr. Rice factually lists that many of Washington D.C. policymakers are former academics. She confesses that this made her feel at home because various colleagues came from Stanford University.
Page 186: Saddam Hussein was initially offered one billion dollars to exit Iraq.
Page 208 (Ouch!): Vice President Dick Cheney had invited some of his close buddies to a party that commemorated the freedom of Iraq. Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz are a couple of the names that were invited. Apparently, Vice President Dick Cheney excluded both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice from his list of people to invite for the gathering.
Powerful people sometimes experience social trials/tribulations too (page 235): Condoleeza Rice was supposed to have dinner with a congressman that she thought was her friend. Apparently, a few days before their scheduled dinner, the "friend" cancelled on her claiming that they must be impartial. I appreciate that she had the courage to open up about this period in her life. This is because she helped me to see that even the most influential and famous people are not immune to friendships turning out differently than expected.
"Fairytale Birthday (Page 294): Condoleeza Rice openly shares a happy moment around a surprise birthday party that was thrown in her honor (for her 50th birthday). The additional bonus to this was it had happened shortly after she became Secretary of State.
Pages 366-367: Colorful photos highlighting pivotal moments are featured. The picture that stood out the most to me was where she was on the exploratory committee in March 1999.
Pages 454: Condoleeza Rice recalls a heart-wrenching moment of attending a dedication that paid respects to four little girls killed at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. Condoleeza Rice mentions that one of the four little girls was her kindergarten classmate Denise McNair.
Debate of Female Roles (page 548): An incident is documented where Senator Barbara Boxer indirectly implied that Condoleeza Rice was unaware of the sacrifices of those lost in war because she had no children. Naturally, Dr. Rice had a strong case for the question being insulting when she wondered if this would have been asked of a male Secretary of State (in a similar setting).
Celebrity Crush (pages 702-703): Qaddafi is quoted to have asked why he had to wait on his "African princess." On page 703, there was mention of how Qaddafi showed Condoleeza Rice a video that featured photos of her with various world leaders (set to the music of "Black Flower In The White House").
Page 717: With respectful sentiment, Dr. Rice shares how it was a smooth process of turning over the Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. She shares how they got along well then and still do now. Logically enough, Dr. Rice admits that one of the reasons for their connection stems back to her days as Stanford provost (when Chelsea Clinton came there as a freshman).
Many more informative details feature in this book. "No Higher Honor" by Condoleeza Rice is best for the open-minded who want to increase their political understanding on what can drive a high level policymaker.
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on 9 April 2015
 Condoleezza's autobiography was gripping... I felt like I traveled with her on her personal journey during her time Washington.

Christine Brown-Quinn
Author, Step Aside Super Woman
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2012
Condoleezza Rice is a remarkably assured person. Although her beginnings were modest hers was not a rags to riches story. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but as a teenager moved to Denver, Colorado, where her father, who was a Presbyterian minister, served as an assistant dean at the University of Denver. She considered a career as a concert pianist but switched to international relations and developed an interest in politics. In 1982 she left the Democratic Party and registered as a Republican partly because she disagreed with Jimmy Carter's foreign policy and also because it was the Republicans who registered her father to vote during the segregation era when the Democrats refused to do so. Although Rice was expected to be appointed National Security Advisor by George W Bush in 2001 she felt unable to leave her father who lived in California and was in bad health. Bush, who appears throughout the book as more sensitive than his public image, was prepared to accommodate Rice to make things work. Her father's death on Christmas Eve 2000 solved the problem.

Rice highlights the tensions which exist between the President, Secretary of State and the Department of State which regards politicans as transient and itself as permanent. Rice saw her role as achieving consensus in the National Security Council (NSC), a role Bush encouraged. She writes, "George W Bush had no trouble making decisions when the search for consensus failed." Rice and Bush were close enough for her to tell him when she felt she was being treated in an off-hand manner. On 9/11 she firmly told Bush, who wanted to return to Washington, he must not do so. When he did return Rice noted "he was absolutely in control and showing no strain whatsoever." When offered a bed in the White House bunker Bush calmly refused and took his family upstairs to their regular quarters.

9/11 defined Bush's policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq although Rice was adament that 9/11 was not reason for the removal of Saddam Hussein. It was Saddam's contribution to instability in the Middle East which led Bush to support regime change, a policy which had been approved by the House of Representatives by 417-5 in 1998 during Clinton's presidency. Rice states the invasion of Iraq took place because all other options had failed. Bush did not want to go to war and there was no policy of bringing democracy to Iraq. In the aftermath of war Rice supported torture as a means of extracting information from captured terrorists which she justified in the context in which it took place, including fear of further attacks. She places the responsibility on the CIA who said the torture techniques were necessary and the Justice Department who reported they were legal. She denies she was aware of the dubious nature of the intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and rejects claims the war was oversold.

Other problems arose from 9/11 and the war in Iraq. 9/11 occurred on Rice's watch and she felt obliged to give evidence to the 9/11 Commission rather than plead executive privilege. She told the Commission that too many officials were in charge of too little information which was uncoordinated. She advocated an integration of foreign and domestic terrorist intelligence to avoid a repetition. In Iraq, America's reputation was severely damaged by prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib. Rice states, "those heinous acts of abuse were committed by a small number of personnel acting in defiance of their orders." Her assertion is not accepted by those found guilty of the crimes who claim there were verbal orders to apply psychological pressure. Unknown to Rice, Donald Rumsfeld offered to resign over the issue but Bush refused to accept it. Abu Ghraib raised questions about prisoners held at Guantanamo. Rice reviewed the case of an Afghan man who she reckoned was about 93 and presented no danger to the United States. It took a long time for other cases to be reviewed.

When she was appointed Secretary of State in 2005 Rice endorsed a policy of spreading freedom by way of democracy. Her argument was democracies did not declare war on each other unlike authoritarian regimes. Dissenting Arab intellectuals were concerned about the negative effect such regimes had on the development of knowledge and education, female empowerment and freedom. She asserted "only the emergence of democratic institutions and practices could defeat terrorism and radical political Islam." She didn't find much support from European allies most of whom thought her approach was too simplistic. Bush, who had no time for the indirect language of the Middle East peace process, called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, despite Israeli opposition. Rice took this further, confronting the ideology of anti-Americanism and taking the message of the need for democratic change to governments. Those beyond the pale - Burma, Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe - were long term projects.

The fact that two of Bush's top advisers, Powell and Rice, were black is remarkable. The pair succeeded not because they were black but because they had and used their undoubted talents to the best of their abilities. Yet only fifty years previously black people were subject to segregation, often unable to register to vote and regarded as inferior by many whites. Texas was part of the segregated South but it was Lyndon Johnson who had signed the Civil Rights Bill and another Texan, George W Bush, who entrusted Rice with high office. Seeing her in person arguing a case quickly brings home the tenacity with which she fights her corner. She struck a chord with Bush but annoyed people like Rumsfeld and Cheyney. This autobiography is a good addition to an understanding of American politics but is probably best used for reference rather than cover to cover reading. Self-serving? Possibly. Worth reading? Definitely. Five stars, just about.
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on 9 June 2013
This book was a great read. Bought it for my dad and he just could not put it done. Come with photographs which he has enjoyed looking at too.
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on 29 April 2014
Very good read, lots of detail about her experiences in public office. This is a big book, over 740 pages!
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